While on a booze cruise just above the Victoria Falls in Livingstone Zambia I spotted this guy resting on the bank. He’s actually a baby, which is probably why his teeth are such a bright white. Even at his age he’s got that menacing, sly look crocodiles are so good at it.
My first trip to Africa was entirely inspired by a forwarded e-mail showing people swimming in the Devil’s Pool right on the edge of Victoria Falls. In order to do this we had to go at low water, which was an incredible experience. However, I can safely say that a return at high water was necessary to truly appreciate the grandeur of the falls.
Where you can see the fall in this picture is where we walked across the last time we were here, it was bone dry. This time, mist swirled everywhere and it didn’t take long for me to get completely soaked.
I’ve been talking with my travel buddy a lot today about our future plans. We’re confident that we’ll be going to Livingstone and the Victoria falls. This will be my second visit and her first. As you may be aware the last time I was there I went swimming in the Devil’s Pool. As it turns out, it looks like the water levels will still be low enough when we get there for us to take a dip atop the falls. I am very much looking forward to watching the look on her face as she takes the plunge.
With that in mind, I thought I’d post a picture capturing what we’re likely to see as we make the walk to the Devil’s Pool. Last time, this beautiful double rainbow greeted me shortly before we prepared to swim across the top of that waterfall to the Devil’s Pool. When I hung my head over the edge and looked down from the Devil’s Pool I realized that rather than a double rainbow there was actually a triple rainbow in the swirling mist. Next time I’m there I hope to get down to the falls for some sunrise/sunset shots.
The Victoria Falls during the dry season was an incredible experience. The gorge ripped open by the force of the Zambezi was clearly on display. We were able to walk across the top of the falls to swim in the Devil’s Pool and hang our heads over the edge, and I was able to take this photo of the rainbow born of the spray from the torrent just around the corner.
I enjoyed my time there so much that I’m planning on going back in January. This will give me the chance to experience the full power of the falls as it will be during the wet season. I’m also hoping to coordinate my visit with the full moon in the hope that I’ll get to see the lunar rainbow.
I found this image of a fisherman in Zambia, with his dugout canoe, that I processed quite a while ago but never posted it. I think at the time I was going through a panoramic phase and decided I needed to post something that wasn’t in this format. Then, I forgot about this image. Upon finding it, I remembered I like it and that it should be online.
Baobab trees really are fascinating. Grand in stature they loom over the Zambian landscape like giants frozen in time. Surprisingly, they are completely hollow on the inside. We got to experience this first hand when our guides took us to a lodge where they’ve actually put a door in the side of one of these mammoth trees that opens up to reveal a bathroom! This discovery was pretty shocking, but I found that people actually used this toilet more shocking. Just above head height, sleeping inside the tree were a handful of bats. I wonder how many people wound up running out with their pants around their ankles after startling the bats.
Another interesting thing about baobabs is that their greatest enemy is elephants. Using their tusks, they peel the trees and eat the bark, causing big holes to form. We can see the result of this practice in today’s picture.
Today’s Photo: Warthog on the Move
We needed to make a decision. The river branched off to the right, but our guide informed us it was a dead end and led the rest of the group to the left. Up ahead, I could see a number of animals by the water’s edge, including a couple of warthogs, right where the group was heading. It gave me the feeling that if we went right, when the animals got spooked by the rest of the group, they’d run past us. Also, I’d discovered on this trip that warthogs may be my favourite animal in the world. I don’t think anyone could not look at a warthog and smile. They’re funny little creatures, that just about live up to their portrayal in The Lion King. Although, I get the feeling the real ones are a little bit smarter than Pumba.
So, we went right, and paddled hard to get up enough speed to beat the group to the point where the two stretches of water nearly met. We were careful to stop paddling and glide quietly onto the beach, bringing the nose of the canoe up onto the sand so as not to send any animals scampering. Sure enough, as the group passed, the warthogs were first to get spooked and ran back into the brush, taking a route just in front of the nose of our canoe. I fired off a few photos frantically and got the one below.
Now came the tricky part of catching up to the group. Fortunately, on the way into the little inlet, about 2 thirds of the way down, I’d spotted a shortcut. The spit of land dividing this section of the water from the main river narrowed to about a canoe’s length. Again, we paddled hard, but didn’t glide in gently this time. We rammed the shore sliding up as far onto the shore as we could. As I was in the front I hopped out. The water was deep enough to disguise a crocodile so Chris couldn’t get out until I pulled the canoe in far enough. Then we quickly slid it across and I hopped back in as Chris pushed me out into the river and jumped in the back. We were safely back with the group.
Today’s Photo: Lonely Lion
Our junior guide, who typically stayed at the back of the group paddled up ahead and caught up to our main guide. Then, they made for the shore. It was about lunchtime and I thought that was why we were stopping. Instead, we were told to stay in our canoes and just beach them slightly. Then, we saw her, camouflaged extremely well amongst the brush, a lone lion, just 30 meters away.
We sat and watched her for a while as she sat and watched us, very casually. She’s an old lion, we were told, and had likely had to leave her pack and attempt to fend for herself. She seemed tired and had a sadness in her eyes, that I think you can see here.
After pushing off and continuing down stream our guide praised his assistant for spotting her and confessed it was a good thing as he’d planned on stopping there for our lunch break!
The Technical Bits
Camera: Canon 5d Mk II
Lens: EF 70-300mm f/2.8L USM
Exposure: 1/50 at f/8
Taking the Photo: I zoomed in far as I could and made sure that I set the focus on the lioness’ eyes as she gazed back at us. I was shooting handheld as I was sitting in a canoe at the time. I shot three bracketed images but chose not to use them.
Processing: I decided not to use the bracketed images as there was too much movement in the scene, from the lion to all of the foliage around her. I tried creating an HDR image by adjusting the exposure levels in Adobe RAW, but realized that I preferred the single exposure to the output from Photomatix so just adjusted contrast in Photoshop and bumped up the detail in Topaz Adjust.
I had to make a substantial crop in order to zoom in further on the lion. As the 5d mk II uses a full frame sensor this was possible without the resulting photo being too small.
Software: Photoshop, Topaz Adjust