2017

A year that was filled with wild, amazing and tender moments

This past year was my third official year not working permanently in the safari lodges. Which has it’s ups and downs, there are definitely things that I miss. The daily and constant “bush time” are things that keeps the soul sane and the heart strong.

So 2017 saw me completely my first year with Africa Photographic Services. An amazing year it was, with a few surprise along the way. Its exactly a year ago, right at the end of 2016 that we found out that our merry little band of Oosthuizen was going to increase by one.

… that Makuleke Sunset

that made the sun explode behind the clouds.

A sunset develops …

Our group of EcoTraining photographer had just been caught in a summer rain shower. So drenched and wet I decided it would be best to pop onto the Levubu River bridge to dry off and organise our gear. The bridge separates the Kruger NP from the Makuleke concession and provide great view to the west. By the time we had our drinks out and relaxing the clouds had opened up enough that sunlight was starting to break through. There was a lot of layers to the cloud structure and it did not take long for the tripods and cameras to come out as sun started in light show.

Big skies require big tree’s …

The Makuleke is probably one of the most scenic regions in the Kruger if not South Africa. With there clouds developing fast time is not on your side. So our plan was simple, find the biggest thing around to compliment the biggest sky I saw in 2017. Thankfully there are plenty of big Baobab trees in the far north of the Kruger.

A bull Elephant

is the one who makes the world problems disappear .. .

Being in the presence of something so massive and at the same time so peaceful makes you loose sense of time …

Keith Meadows (a Zimbabwean Author) made a commented in one his books (Sand in the Wind), That every politician should be charged by a elephant bull once a week, too let them keep a firm perspective of their place in the world (this could come in handy with Donald). Well one does not need to be charged by an elephant to appreciate their ability to make you feel very insignificant very quickly. This ability makes you live in that absolute present moment, the here and now. Making all your worldly problems just disappear.

I sat on me deck of my tent at Simbavati River lodge, when this gentleman of the Lowveld came and made me live in a present moment that will remain with me for many years to come.

We were stuck in the same moment for an eternity, until he decided to allow time too continue.

Competition between Lions

When Harry met Sally sighting, the violence of lions.

When Lions are not sleeping they tend to be quiet violent …

Competition between pride members are usually violent, but when an unknown lioness tries to feed from the prides kill. Some one is going to take objection to that.

There was more to this violence than mere competition for food, then the secret was revealed. Only when the Lioness arrived with her 4 cubs did we really see the real violence of a Lions. 

Yes Ostriches are crazy

Especially the further north you go in the kruger

As soon as I stopped taking pictures, she would peck at my shoulder …

Craziest sighting I probably had this past year. In the far north of the Kruger in the Pafuri region lives a lone female ostrich, she is some what lonely and consistently seeks out human interaction. Which does present some unique photographic situations.

Taken with Care

Just because you can pick it up does not mean you should pick it up …

We searched long and hard for just the right situation to photograph this chameleon. We could have just moved our first one to a better bush, but its a lot more rewarding and for filling when you put in the hard yards to get your photograph with minimal disturbance.

Fluke and repeat

When you see a moment and you hope it happens again …

The evening  before this fantastic morning, we checked the weather reports for the Southern Timbavati . We were hoping for a really crisp and cold morning. I was guiding guests as Makanyi private game lodge and we had discussed if the conditions were correct that we could get some great hippo images in the morning. We wanted to capture the mist rising off the water between the hippos and with some luck a yawn …

The following morning the conditions were perfect and while we were waiting for the light to reach the waters edge. The light beams were hitting the far bank and slowly creeping across the water from the east. A hippo below the light snorted and the warm breath just illuminated in the sunlight, then it just came down to waiting and hoping for it to happen again.

A Vintage Lion

Old school is the new school

I think there is a yearning within all of us to experience “Old Africa“, where animals were not limited by the boundaries of man.

This was the most amazing morning that I have spent with a stunning Male Lion from the Northern sections of the Sabi Sands. I was hosting a Safari on behalf of Pangolin Photo Safaris at Jaci’s Sabi House.

We had just witnessed a Young female Leopard make a near escape from this very Lion, what proceeded afterwards was photographic bliss. The light and the positioning of our vehicle was just spot on. All of which I only really appreciated after the fact, when the guests and I were reviewing the images back at Camp.

It made images that were just begging to be edited into vintage photographs …

The locals are Photographic Fodder

Photographing Vervet Monkeys around Camp

When the reply to your wake up call is, “lets sleep in” …

and you have been wide awake since 04:30, there is really only one option. Grab your camera and see what visitors are going to pass through camp when the rumbles other safari vehicle disappear. It did not take me long to find the local vervet troop terrorising the lodge staff setting up breakfast, so a found a suitable angel to capture the commotion.

Leopards in thier pale habitats

Looking for situations of Hi-Key opportunities, specifically for Leopards

Shadow activities of Leopards

So many of my guests images (and subsequently my images) start as a conversation around a table during a meal. I am not a guide that can just float around the bush hoping for a photograph to present it self. I much rather try and imagine or create a photograph well before the we even lift up a camera. These images could be complete fantasy or they could be a situation of trying to problem solve a distinctive situation we have or may encounter. So when that situation appears, by change or fate, we are best prepared to photograph it.

Leopards moving through deep shadows, is exactly such a situation. The essence or secret of capturing a great leopard image while it is moving through the undergrowth is found in the background. The back ground must be in light and it must be bright.

Framing the light with shadow

Framing is a great way to eat up empty space, here I used it as a contrast element as well with my composition. There a three elements of contrast with in this image, the dark leopard in shadow. Walking on white sand and we purposefully positioned the vehicle to create a frame of dark brush around the scene.

The Amazing Fujifilm GFX

Downsizing a 50mp file so it looks good for web is next to impossible, so please understand that the amount of detail and sharpness is not well represented in the image.

I only got one opportunity to use the GFX in a sighting and I was absolutely blown away by it as a tool to make you enjoy your photography. If you have read some of my posts about my experiences with the Fujifilm XT2, well the GFX takes it to the next level.

It is like a slow donkey for wildlife, which would frustrate 99% of wildlife photographers. I find it very refreshing to have a slow camera, you have to take each individual image on its own merit. You think very carefully about the moment you press the shutter, because it feels like an eternity before the camera is ready to take another picture (3/fps). Then the shutter goes off its a big fat clap of the shutter, you feel like you have just made a photograph. Because all good things come with time.

Gone but not Forgotten …

2017 saw the death of the Piva Male

The royal blood line

Each photographic experience that I facilitate at Londolozi for Africa Photographic Services, is an opportunity to realise a childhood dream of seeing Leopards in this iconic patch of bush made famous by John Varty’s (JV) numerous documentaries that I watched endlessly as a child.

So the first time I saw the Piva Male leopard I got very excited with James Souchon mentioned that he was a direct descendent to the Mother Leopard that JV habituated in the 70’s. So it was saddening to hear of his death just after a safari i had conducted at Londolozi, so this photograph is one of my last of the Piva Male.

Taking a rest

With distant roars, this Lioness was determined to get her last remaining cub as far away as she could. He just needed a rest …

Giraffes

Giraffe just have this innate ability to make you want to take pictures of them …

The Quintessential African Photograph

I still maintain that there is no other subject matter that screams AFRICA after like a Giraffe Silhouette.

Hear me out, which African animal (large mammal) do you only get in Africa. I mean its a one of a kind, no close related kin are any where else. Yes only Giraffe, there may be a case for an Aardvark and a Zebra. All other large mammals require the environment to shout Africa at you.

You welcome to challenge me on this, find me on Facebook here … @etienne.oosthuizen.photography

Manipulating depth of field

Have you ever waited for a photograph to load on a screen and the machine gives you this blurred view of your image while you wait for it to render properly … well I often really like those image previews

My tea not too your liking?

Look this is very experimental at this stage. Getting focus on the eye of an animal is very easy, trying to find a depth of field that renders your subject out of focus and nothing else in focus is pretty tricky … #butwatchthispace

Op ’n Koppie

Every free moment I had in the first 4 months of 2017 were spent creating a time-lapse from a single Koppie (rocky hill).

A tale of an Owl and a Cub

This was a small chapter within a larger leopard story, of a female Leopard moving her cubs to a new kill.

Focused

As a mother Leopard was moving her cubs towards a fresh kill, she was hugging a deep drainage line that provided safety and cover for her two cubs. There is always plenty of animals look for this safety in the boulders, fallen over trees and thick canopies of the large tree that grown along these dry water ways.

Our tracker Richard broke the our excitement with a soft call to “listen”. A very strange call was imitating from a small cluster of Tamboti trees. Only when we saw one of the cubs climb one of the tree did we learn who was making this out of the ordinary sound. It was an alarm call of the Spotted eagle owl and it was not the focus of this cub. This game of cat and bird continued up until the Leopardess call from much further up stream for the cub to follow.

A mothers playful love

This was the bigger story of a mother leopard playing with her cubs while moving them to a kill.

When the bush takes notice of moving Cats

One of the best times to photograph prey is when they are looking at a predator, this impala ram noticed the leopard family through the tree line.

Pop the bubbles and have a great 2018

Thank you for the surpport …

My 2017 was crazy and very busy, I am very fortunate to be able to say that I was so busy that I did not update the blog as regularly enough. My own family commitments will have me at home more this year, so looking forward to updating more and actually getting through the my image and hard drive back log of the last 5 years. I have probably over shared a few years over others and I aim to correct that.

Again thank you for the surpport and please follow the blog, where I will be sharing my experiences, advice and adventures .

Regards

Etienne

a new venture for 2018 …

African Canvas Prints

Africa Photographic Services launched a great platform for both commercial and private art buyers to get amazing quality African Canvas prints.

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