Sep 212012

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
ISO: 100
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

Lone old lioness who seemed tired and had a sadness in her eyes lying on the ground camouflaged in the brush in Zambia.

Jun 272012

Late Night Tonight

I’ve decided to stick with my rule of not posting photos from the same country two days in a row (I know I’ve broken it in the past), but I’m desperate to work up some of my Iceland photos. I expect I’ll be up late tonight doing just that. On top of that I was in the middle of redesigning the site when I had to take a break to travel to Iceland. I really want to make a little more progress on that tonight.

For those of you patiently waiting for my tutorial, I did make a lot of progress before leaving. I find I work best on the weekends when I can really dedicate a lot of time to it. I’ll be putting in some more effort this weekend.

Today’s Photo: The Journey

Canoeing down the Lower Zambezi makes use of the old cliché “the journey is half the fun” really come into its own. Drifting casually down the river (while carefully keeping your limbs in the canoe) is punctuated by moments of intense activity and excitement. A lot of the time this is brought on by hippos hanging about in the shallows. The problem posed here is that when hippos get scared they head for deep water. So, if you’re in between the hippos and the deep water, you’ve got a problem. As a result, the approach is simply a bold game of chicken, in which you steer straight at the hippos in an effort to move them into the deep. Other exciting moments resulted from elephants coming down to the water to drink and play, which Chris and I may or may not have gotten dangerously close to. Other times the excitement was that we had an opportunity to get out of the canoes, whether it was to eat lunch, make camp, or go for a swim in a “safe” stretch of river. I say “safe” because, when asked, our guide said we were safe from crocodiles in the shallow water because we could fight off a crocodile there. Now, I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, if I’m having to fight off a crocodile I am already in serious trouble!

This photo was taken at one of the calmer moments as we floated through a narrow channel of the river. I’ve changed my approach to photos with moving subjects. Rather than trying to combine three different exposures I’m working with one RAW. Using Photoshop’s RAW converter I create three images by adjusting the exposure of the original. Then I combine these three images using Photomatix. This way, I don’t have to deal with loads of ghosting issues. If you look through my gorilla photos by clicking the category to the right, the last few have employed this method and you should be able to see an improvement over my earlier attempts.

Two canoes floating through a narrow channel of the Zambezi River on safari in Zambia

Jun 062012

Traverse Earth Now on Facebook

You can now follow Traverse Earth on Facebook. I like the look of the page, it’s nice and crisp and inspiring me to redesign the homepage here. It’s also the first place where you can see the new TraverseEarth logo. Likes and shares on Facebook are very much appreciated!

Today’s Photo: After Dark, Lower Zambezi, Zambia

It’s a fairly long journey from Livingstone to Zambeezi Breezers, where our canoe safari started. We stumped up for the first class bus with 4 seats across rather than 5 and air conditioning so it was pretty pleasant.  I spent the time watching the scenery unfold and sleeping. It was actually probably the first bit of rest I’d had in the past week.

The rest continued when we arrived at Zambeezi Breezers and discovered this deck. We plopped ourselves down and had a few beers as the sun went down, watching the hippos commute alongside dugout canoes. Then it was dark and all we could do was listen to the vast expanse in front of us. I decided to try to capture that.

Safari-bound at Zambezi Breezers, sitting on the wood deck over the Lower Zambezi in the night with golden lights in Zambia.

Something Interesting: Carved Book Landscapes

These are really cool! Guy Laramee takes big old outdated books and uses them as his medium to carve striking landscapes. I find the seventh one down particularly impressive. It’s a Buddhist statue set back in a cave.