Africa Wild Safaris Safari Report
Wild Times News Letter
Issue 20: African Spring 2016

In this issue I share with you the highlights from 3 fantastic African springtime safaris. Also included are some tips for using Lightroom for processing your photos, our 2017 & 2018 safari schedule, links to our travel planning resource, safari photos, and more.

Safari Report

We started our safaris in early spring: the evidence and consequences of the prolonged drought were very apparent. The winners in these conditions are the predators and this fact provided us with many memorable wildlife encounters. The lions, cheetahs, and leopards thrive on the weakened herbivore species. We had frequent sightings of lion kills throughout all three safari groups. It was thrilling to see the prides of lions who had worked as a team to bring down some very large buffalos and giraffes. Each carcass then became a battleground between pride members and then a struggle between species all wanting a turn at the feast. As we watched one morning, a large male lion aggressively appeared to claim the kill and the right to feed first. Other times it was more peaceful as females escorted cubs to the feed. As the lions became satiated and gathered in the shade, the jackals, hyena, and vultures moved in. At one carcass I watched the humorous antics of adolescent cubs readying themselves and pouncing on vultures if they came too close.

As the spring progressed we received the first good rains of the season. From then on the bird activity picked up as the trees set buds and some of the grass started to grow. You could see the excitement of the grazing animals - they were oblivious to us and just kept eating. We saw several species of birds building nests and courting such as the African hoopoe and the red headed weavers.

Our first group was an all ladies group and very interested in the conservation efforts in South Africa. We had many discussions of current efforts and challenges and they enjoyed honest discussions with rangers and other locals. All of our groups enjoyed the great weather and close encounters with giraffes, zebra, and kudu coming to drink at the lodge watering hole while guests watched from the deck. Many of our guests had been on safari with us before and we were able to show them some new reserves and do some new activities. Everyone enjoyed each other’s company and formed new friendships

female lions on a recent buffalo kill
Mother and Baby Giraffe

A photographic highpoint, of course, were the leopards in Sabi Sands. We were able to find the same leopard on successive game drives giving us an insight into the daily life of this incredibly successful hunter. Seeing them guarding their kills stashed up in a tree was very exciting. We worked with each guest to make sure they had the right equipment and know how to take excellent images. We also spent time with them to show them post processing and organizational techniques to save them time and make the most of their images.

Each guest returned with great memories and thousands of images. I was happy to have exceeded their expectations for fun, adventure, and wildlife. I would like to thank each of them – it was a joy to meet them and provide them with the adventure of a lifetime.

I share some of my images in my Blog: Favorite Moments from the September 2016 Safaris

Photographing Leopard
Male Lion

What our Guests Say:

Thank you for making this dream of safari even better than I expected! The wildlife was way more than I expected and I liked that you and other rangers educated us about the animals, their role in the environment, and the overall challenges of conservation in this area. I can not wait to come back again. - Stacy& Mike

(her 2nd safari with us) I can't thank you enough for another amazing time in Africa. It was great to see and reconnect with old friends and make a few new ones along the way. Frances, Chris and myself are still laughing over some of the adventures we had and I'm sure it was all quiet once we left. Now I can sit down and start going through all my photos from the trip..Hopefully I'll have a few good ones. Everything was top notch from the drives, zip lining, the food and the accommodations. Hopefully one day we will be able to all gather again on another adventure. Her Trip Advisor Review - Heather

I returned on your safari just 16 months later and everything is even better. The work you have done to the lodge makes it even more amazing. I really enjoyed the bush babies at my tree house and even on my camera tripod and the giraffes making their daily call on us. The meals were mouthwatering and all the game drives, activities, and lodges were excellent. I really enjoyed the company of the other guests – you get the nicest people on your trips. - Chris

Elephant family in a line powerful male leopard
Read Comments from our Guests Our Tree House Lodge on Trip Advisor

Don't Miss Your Chance to Join Us on an Adventure Packed Safaris in 2017 & 2018

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2017 will be another great year of adventurous photo safaris. We will be hosting safaris at the best time of the year: April/May (African autumn) and Sept/October (African spring). We only have space for a couple and a single traveler for our September 2017 Safari. We are putting together our 2018 schedule now which will book up well in advance.

Reserve spaces now for individuals or your groups of 4 - 6 !

Giraffe up Close powerful male leopard

Our safaris in 2017 will be 10 day photographic safari in private reserves in Limpopo, South Africa and Kruger National Park with 2 nights in the famous Sabi Sands reserve, a stay at our tree house lodge, and on a big 5 reserve. All of our safaris are hosted by photographer Gregory Sweeney.

photo safari schedule may

Photo Safaris 2017

May 2 - 11 & May 17 - 26 - SOLD OUT

August 29 - September 7 - 3 Spaces

September 12 - 21 - SOLD OUT

Visit South Africa during their autumn or spring and see all of the great wildlife of Kruger and Private reserves. Some dates already sold out - dont miss out!

Learn more
photo safari schedule september

Safaris in 2018

May 9 - 18 & May 23 - June 1 2018

August 29 - 7 Sept & Sept 12 - 21 2018

groups of 4 -6 contact us early!

Another exciting of season of safaris with some new surprises! Both fall and spring seasons have comfortable weather and good wildlife action.

Learn more

Stay at our Tree House Lodge

Our safari guests will enjoy several nights on our Nature Conservancy in our own lodge, Bona Ntaba Tree House Lodge. Here they will enjoy game viewing and wildlife activities during the day, our resident roaming plains game species while they relax at the tree houses, and delicious meals in our boma under the stars. After dinner we enjoy listening for and spotting night creatures at the watering hole just off our deck and pool. The thatched roof and wood floors give you a sense of adventure with ample protection from weather all the while catching a nice cooling breeze. At night you can hear the lions roar and the haunting sounds of wildlife all around you. Guests comment that Bona Ntaba Lodge and its food were a highlight of their stay. Learn more about our lodge or See more Photos

During our safaris we stay at other small, special lodges. Each has characteristic South African features, fine meals, and friendly staff. Above all, we choose our lodges for the quality of their wildlife and reserves. Each has excellent rangers who are very tuned into the needs of photographers and are as commited to education and adventure as we are.

tree house lodge
Dinner under the stars

Also on my Blog:

Which is the Best Season for Safari? Safari Travel Resource

Adjusting Safari Image using Lightroom's Dehaze Tool

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before and after

Last year Adobe released a new version of Lightroom CC which contains their newest adjustment tool: The DeHaze slider. It is found in the FX menu of the Development module (way down toward the bottom of the list).

You must have the CC version of Lightroom to use it, but if you have Photoshop, there is a way to access the tool and take it further using a few medium/advanced PS techniques. (see at the end of this article for details). Also this tool works on the entire image - in Photoshop you can target the area where the effect takes place.

The purpose of the Dehaze slider is to either add or remove atmospheric haze from a photo. The obvious use is for adjusting landscape images, but I have found it useful with safari images where there was quite a bit of dust in the air and even for some underwater images where the water was not clear. (the underwater equivalent of dust)

For me, it is a tool that combines Contrast, color saturation, and midtone sharpening into a single tool. Using a combination of tools it is possible to achieve similar results to the Dehaze slider, but if time is an issue, you can get great improvements with just one adjustment. Investing a bit more time you can build on the improvements Dehaze adds to your images by combining it with further adjustment tools.

Using Dehaze on a dusty image

Here is an example of how I used Dehaze for an image that was not a landscape.The drought has made everything very dusty and it really effects this image taken in the mid morning light.

with dehaze

With just one adjustment, the colors pop and the contrast is greatly improved.

Now I experiment with doing some Exposure adjustments first before applying the Dehaze.

My method for this is to temporarily Desaturate the image so I can analyze it without the distraction of color. More details in the full article

exposure adjustments

I used the Tone Curve tool (you can also use the 4 sliders under Exposure) to add contrast by darkening the Shadows and Darks and lightening the Lights. I left the Highlights as they were since there is a bit of bright light in the mane and sky. I then restored the color to see the following improvement.

Now I add the Dehaze adjustment - a little bit less than I used when it was my only adjustment.

exposure adjustments wit Dehaze

Dehaze has taken the image a step better than exposure adjustments alone.

The new Dehaze tool is now one of my goto tools for quick improvements to a raw image. I also include it among other adjustment tools when I am doing detailed adjsutments to an image either in Lightroom or Photoshop

Read More of this article and see more examples in the full article on my blog

Parting Shot

mother and baby elephant

A baby elephant uses its mom as a rubbing post. As the dry season progresses, the water holes dry up and become shallow and muddy. Elephants love to refresh themselves in the water and these waterholes and mud holes are a gathering place for herds of elephants. In the absence of surface water, elephants dig down to find underground water forming their own mudbaths. The mud on their skin cools them and protects them from biting insects.

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