Archive for Safari

Photo Editing

Posted in Photography Technique with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2015 by chamimage
3 day old Elephant Baby

3 day old Elephant Baby

I had a recent epiphany about photo editing. In the past I have spent a lot of my time editing old folders of images that I felt guilty about not having finished with editing all of the images. The problem with that is that I have already gleaned the family jewels images from those folders so I am spending a lot of my time editing and Photoshopping my second best images.

Samburu Elephants

Samburu Elephants

That thought occurred to me as I looked at my Google Analytics one day and confirmed that Guanajuato, Mexico at night was still my most viewed image on my web site again for another week, as it has been for much of the past year. I don’t know why. But the point is that I also realized I had many more images of Guanajuato that I had never optimized.  Guilt be damned! I worked on Guanajuato images.

So now I let the fickle winds of supply and demand determine which images I will be editing, not guilt about old un-edited images. I check Google Analytics and my stock sites to see what images are being viewed, both my own site and in general. Today it was Australia, France, and elephants. I have elephants, so I’m working on elephants.

Elephant and Crocodile

Elephant and Crocodile

Being an elephant means you don’t have to bother about no stinkin’ crocodile.

Masai Mara

Posted in Photo Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2013 by chamimage
Cheetah

Cheetah

Usually when I get an image request from my agency I find it is so specific that I don’t have the image. “A male deer in autumn with a western mountain range in the background; north of the 45th parallel and west of the Rocky Mountains. Must be a deer tick of the genus Ixodes in his left ear and he must be situated 45 degrees to the camera facing away”. I exaggerate, but not much.

This week I found out how much work it creates when the opposite happens and the image request is vague.

The request was for a vertical image of the Masai Mara for a magazine cover. No problem. I have 5,957 images from Africa. About 80% are from the Masai Mara. About 10% are verticals (I don’t shoot as many verticals with four-footed animals, which may or may not be running horizontally). That leaves something like 477 images to locate among the 36 subfolders that may contain them.

Masai Mara Sunrise

Masai Mara Sunrise

It would have helped, I decided, to at least know what genre of magazine this was for. Is the emphasis on travel, on wildlife, on birds? There was no way to narrow it down. I was allowed to submit ten images.

Marsh Pride Male

Marsh Pride Male

I just tried to submit a balance between wildlife and scenics. I decided birds were not likely to be chosen in a non-birder magazine. Not enough Mara atmosphere. That being said, my last cover shot was of a lilac-breasted roller from the Masai Mara, but that was for Birder’s World. It could have been perched on the back of a rhino and their readers would only have noticed the bird.

Stormy Mara Sunset

Stormy Mara Sunset

The above image was from the first afternoon game drive on arriving at our camp in 2010. The thunder clouds move in every day around 2 pm off of Lake Victoria in the fall. Convection currents, I’m told.

Common Ostrich female

Common Ostrich female

In the end it looks like they have short-listed a couple of rhino photos. My experience with rhinos in the Masai Mara is that they are heavily poached so they run like hell as soon as our Land Rover came into view. All of my rhino photos are from Lake Nakuru where they graze like cows along the lake shore. Lake Nakuru is a small reserve for flamingos, black rhinos, white rhinos and Rothschild giraffes. A poacher might slip in at night by foot, but any gunshot would be heard by a nearby lodge and reported. And the poacher might well be eaten by a leopard long before he saw a rhino.

Sunset, with Vulture

Sunset, with Vulture

On a somewhat related note. I quit Getty Images, so will soon have sole possession of many of my best images again, including some Masai Mara images. I recently sold three images from Italy for a sum that made me realize that my best Italy images were on Getty and I would probably be better off having them back. No more exclusive agreements for me.

On an entirely unrelated note. There was high drama at Yellowstone Park this week with a fox den in the picnic area that everyone has been visiting. A badger came along and the ensuing battle with the fox vixen was photographed by Max Waugh. See his photos at http://forums.yellowstone.net/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=16236. The badger made it into the den despite the fierce defense of the vixen, but the pups escaped out a back entrance. The parents dug a new den uphill and then stood vigil on the den with the badger still in it. Last report was not good. The badger picked a moment to escape the old den and made a beeline into the new den with the pups in it. It seems doubtful there was time to make a back entrance to the new den and the pups may be gone. This stuff happens every day out there, it is just not often happening in a place where we witness it. This is all being reported on Facebook so ‘like’ Max Waugh’s page (and Deby Dixon’s page) if you like that sort of thing. I wondered, at first, why the fox parents didn’t move the pups further away, but then realized the badger would have just followed them. They couldn’t travel all that far with such young pups and they would be vulnerable the whole time they were traveling. It was best to stay put and play it out the best they could.

 

Inspiration

Posted in Philosophy and Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2012 by chamimage

Burchell’s Zebra

I get inspired by various things through a typical week. Last week I was inspired by this article on the PDN Newswire about Florian Shulz. Florian is a German photographer that tackles big projects. His books have included Yellowstone to Yukon and Baha to Beaufort Sea. His latest is To the Arctic.

This kind of inclusive photography takes a lot of planning and a lot of financial backing because it takes months to years.

I was inspired by a couple of quotes in the article. Florian went to college because he was counseled that his dream of being a wildlife photographer was too risky, It was just too hard to make a living. After college he had to decide what to do and decided, “I’m not going to live a life based on fear that I’m not going to be successful at something.”

I remember hearing all of those people telling me that medical school would be too hard and take too long. Sometimes it doesn’t matter. Some people like a challenge. Why else would anyone volunteer to become a Navy Seal?

The other thing Florian said that got my attention was that rather than think of wildlife photography as his career, he told himself, “This is my life.” It is a lucky person that gets to live his passion and make it into a career.

Vervet Monkey_Samburu

This all got me thinking about who inspires me. I broke it down into mentors, contemporaries, and peers.

Mentors are those that are successful and who taught me the basics. John Shaw, George Lepp, and Galen Rowell come immediately to mind. Kind of dates me, but there it is.

Peers are those I go shooting with, who I share an image or a laugh on Google + or Flickr, or Facebook. If you like photography and you aren’t on Google + you ought to be. It is the single best place to have a conversation with and be inspired other photographers. Facebook is sooo 2009. This week we talked about Piper McKay’s persistent focusing problems with her old Canon bodies and whether she should give up and switch to Nikon rather than risk upgrading to a newer generation Canon. (Of course I think she should switch to Nikon, but not because I think Nikon will be any more willing to replace a lemon camera body). Vincent Versace (a mentor, not really a peer) asked whether a work is art when it is created, or does it become art according to the viewer’s opinion? Karen Hutton went to Florence, Italy and shared photos that took me back to that gorgeous city.

Contemporaries is what I decided to call people that I have been following on Flickr for a long time and I have watched their growth and their ultimate success. I’ve watched Miss Aniela (warning: nude content) go from a college student doing self-portaiture to a conceptual artist with books and workshops. I’ve watched Hennie Van Heerden get recognized for her incredible wildlife photography with a Japanese Canon commercial and a book and workshops.

Samburu Woman

The internet has opened up so many ways to get inspired, especially the social media sites where you can discover photographers you would never have otherwise known existed. It seems like I discover somebody new every day. I think possibly the best way to get a daily dose of photographic inspiration is to go to PhotoExtract on Facebook and Like it. There you will get to view about ten of the best photographs posted on Google + on any given day. Prepare to be awed.

Lioness with Gerenuk Calf

 

Clouds

Posted in Photo Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2012 by chamimage

Samburu Clouds

With apologies to Judy Collins – I really don’t know clouds at all.  I was looking for cloud images recently and came across this one. As usual it evoked some pretty strong memories.

When I went to Africa fo the second time in 2010 I had thousands of images from my previous trip under my belt so was ready to be selective about what I shot. Not just any lion would do; he had to have a wind-blown mane.

Fabio

I ran into a little problem with this philosophy on the days I had Chris in the vehicle with me. Chris was one of those guys that shot pictures of clouds. And wildebeest. Millions of wildebeest. Our vehicle couldn’t get 100 yards down the track without Chris wanting to stop and shoot some more clouds and wildebeest.

Clouds don’t change much in the course of 100 yards, and either do wildebeest, so it got kind of old really fast. I found myself wondering silently if they didn’t perhaps have clouds in Boston that he could photograph when he got home. Nobody complained out loud beyond the muffled groan. The thing with Chris was that he had an inoperable brain tumor. This Africa trip was a bucket list endeavor.

I’m not sure if the tumor made him see things differently, or if the prospect of his situation just made him see the beauty in the mundane. It was interesting to watch Chris experience Africa and be overwhelmed by everything, including clouds. He bought every kind of souvenir you can imagine.

I felt kind of bad that he was from the city and he seemed to miss everything. If we saw a leopard, he couldn’t see it until it was too late. He always seemed to be in the wrong place and pre-occupied with the wrong things when something interesting happened. When asked in the morning by the driver what he wanted to see that day it was always the same – “Lepaard”. All day it was “When are we going to go find the lepaards?”

By the time we hit Samburu three weeks into the trip he must have been rubbing off on me because I was photographing the heck out of the clouds. And we finally found a beautiful leopard on the last evening that even Chris couldn’t miss out on as she sat right next to our vehicle waiting for her oryx dinner she had spotted from up a tree to come back into view. Maybe she somehow knew that he just really needed that moment before he left.

Leopard

 

Serval Kittens

Posted in Photo Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2012 by chamimage

Serval Kittens

It turns out that serval kittens play pretty much like any other kitten. We got to observe these guys at their den in a termite mound in the Masai Mara in Kenya. Like any kitten, they are a riot to watch and photograph.

Take That

They would explore for a while, then one of them would start something. It was usually the same little rascal that instigated the play.

And That

This image is not as sharp as I would prefer, but hard to shoot sharp photos when you are laughing.

That Look

Every cat owner knows what that look means.

Momma Serval

This is the mother serval, just so you know what the kittens will look like when all grown up.

Lake Nakuru

Posted in Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 22, 2011 by chamimage

White Rhinos

Lake Nakuru is located in central Kenya in the Rift Valley. It is a small national park and it is located close to a major city, Nakuru, but it is quite an amazing place. It is apparently safe from poachers (it is fenced to make it safe from poachers) because they have chosen to bring white rhinos, black rhinos and Rothschild giraffes here to save them from extinction. There seem to be less big cats here than elsewhere, though it is forested with fever trees and the leopards are out of sight in the forest.

Greater Flamingo

Lake Nakuru itself is an alkaline lake, or soda lake, that attracts up to a million lesser flamingos. The flamingos eat the blue green algae found in the shallow water at the lake edges. The algae are, in turn, supported by the flaming droppings. The flamingos retreat to the center of the lake at night for safety so there is quite an opportunity for flight photography as the fly to the edges of the lake each morning.

Spotted Hyena

The major predator of the flamingos (there is always a predator, isn’t there) is the spotted hyena, whose main strategy is to run along the shore and panic the flamingos. Flamingos need a bit of a runway for take-off so it is quite a sight (not to mention the sound) to see them all running through the water flapping their wings. I am told flamingo’s long legs are very fragile and it is the flamingo that breaks a leg on take-off that becomes lunch for the hyena.

Rothschild Giraffe

The Rothschild giraffe is a subspecies that has never had a significant population. Loss of habitat in Uganda and Kenya have brought it to the edge of extinction so a population was established here in Lake Nakuru. They are known most for their bobby socks legs, with no markings below the knees. They also have five horns, which is a bit of an exaggeration, the other three are nubs. at best. They are also taller than other giraffe species.

White Rhino

The rhinos are ubiquitous at Lake Nakuru. We mostly photographed white rhinos because they are grazers that prefer the grassy meadows that border the lake. The black rhinos are browsers that inhabit the forested areas, nibbling leaves.

Cape Teal

Lake Nakuru National Park is a very popular park. It is on the itinerary for the major European travel agencies. These tours seem to have a dizzying pace. They usually use small minivans (filled with many people) that line up at the gate at noon, which is when the park allows the day’s groups to enter. Once in the park they race to the lodge, have lunch, and then go for a drive. They are back in time for supper and the next morning they are packing up for the next leg of the journey. Whew!

Great Egret

We had every kind of light imagineable during our day and a half at Lake Nakuru. Good morning light, harsh mid day light, approaching storm light, and sucky gray rainy day light. A worthy photographic challenge.

Great White Pelican

500px.com

Posted in Photography Technique with tags , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2011 by chamimage

Bareback Bronc

I’ve had my eye open for an alternative to Flickr as a site to share images with colleagues for some time now. The problem I have with Flickr is that my images just don’t look good on that site. They don’t look good on Photo Shelter, either. There is some technical thing about flash versus HTML that supposedly makes a difference. Does it ever. I am told that there is a difference in Google visibility depending on Flash versus HTML, as well (HTML is better).

Tie-down Roping Horse

Today I learned about a new site called 500px.com that has both better image quality, and better quality of images than Flickr. I checked it out and was amazed at the quality of the photography on the site. Apparently, it is popular with professional photographers, not that there is any barrier to enrollment. And it’s free!

I liked it so I joined and uploaded a couple of images and so far they look great on that site. I hope it works out and the quality of the site remains excellent.

So, for what it’s worth, 500px.com and Photo Deck display my images in a manner that I really like. Flickr and Photo Shelter do not. The colors change and the exposure changes and there is just no fixing it.

Incoming Storm

I will continue with Flickr because I have many friends on there and I do some business on there. I will continue with Photo Shelter for now because for some reason a lot of my sales queries come from that site, though they usually mention having seen the actual photograph on another site. .

If you like to view great photographic images then it is definitely worthwhile to at least go to 500px.com and look over the popular and the editor’s choice photographs. They inspire me.