May 222012

After drinking copious amounts of wine and petting cheetahs (preferably not in that order) this is your view as you leave Spier Winery. This is where we started our wine tour and from here we went for what may have been the best meal we had in South Africa. It’s called bobotie and it’s delicious. Our guide described it to us in much the way that I’m going to describe it to you and all we could think was that it sounded odd. We decided to go ahead with our guide’s recommendation just the same and were certainly please.

Bobotie is a minced beef dish. The beef is mixed up with raisins and spiced up. It has a bit of a curry flavour. It’s cooked in a small casserole and topped off with a really thin layer of egg. They served it with mango chutney and sliced banana. Like I said, this combination of ingredients sounds odd but it really is delicious.

Long straight road of brown soil between lavender and bushes leading to Spier Winery in Capetown, South Africa

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Apr 302012

Operation Horseshoe Bay: Day 3

My original plan to head down to Horseshoe Bay for a week didn’t really pan out due to a couple of alarm clock errors. I went down this morning and got exactly the conditions I was hoping for. I shot the photo I’d been picturing based on the Photographer’s Ephemeris and went about taking some more creative images. I now have so many shots from the 40 minutes I spent down at the beach that I don’t know where to start.

Cute Cheetah

In the meantime I’ve decided to upload this cute cheetah today. I’ve been reluctant to upload it as I’m not sure how good a photo it is. The composition isn’t particularly interesting. It certainly doesn’t measure up to the other cheetah cub photo I uploaded here. But, in the end I decided that this cheetah is so cute and has such amazing eyes that I had to upload it. At this point in time one of the cheetahs’ handler was preparing a ball on a rope for the cheetahs to chase.

Cute baby cheetah with intense brown eyes taken at Cheetah Outreach in South Africa.

Jan 302012

I’ve uploaded photos from our day of wine tasting around Stellenbosch before. This photo is from the same day. Before heading to our first tasting, we stopped off at Cheetah Outreach on the Spier estate. Quoting their website, they are “an education and community-based programme created to raise awareness of the plight of the cheetah and to campaign for its survival.  Founder Annie Beckhelling launched the project in January 1997 with just one hectare of land provided by Spier Wine Estate and two cheetahs.”

We arrived just as they opened and were the first group of people through the gates. We were split into two groups for our  encounters. My first stop was with the two adolescent cheetahs below. They had a lot of energy. The handlers were keeping them entertained with balls on the end of ropes. They’d swing the balls around them, and the two cheetahs would chase them around and around. During the brief moments they’d calm down, we were able to pet them and listen to them purr. Following this, we set out to go in the enclosure of an adult cheetah. This proved difficult – like the young ones they all had a lot of energy too and were pacing their enclosures. We couldn’t go into the enclosures when they were in this mood so we had to wait. We kept getting ushered from one enclosure to the other as word was received that this cheetah and that cheetah was lying down. But, they’d always hop up again by the time we got there.

Then, finally one stayed calm long enough for us to enter. It’s a weird feeling petting a full-grown cheetah. It purred as well and you could feel it rumbling through it’s whole body.

For this shot I set my shutter speed good and fast and took a ton of photos. All the time I concentrated to keep the cheetah’s eyes in focus. I then created an HDR image from a single raw by adjusting the exposure levels and then combining the resulting three images in Photomatix.

Two adolescent cheetahs with intense staring eyes at Cheetah Outreach in South Africa.