Sunday, July 19th, 2009 at
Photo Details: A pair of Blue Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) gallop off as we approach in our game drive vehicle, Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana.
Camera: Canon EOS 450D (Canon Rebel XSi 12.2MP); Lens: Canon EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM; Focal Length: 300mm; Shutter speed: 1/30; Aperture: f45; ISO: 400; 31 May 2009, 9.25am.
Additional Info: I deliberately used a slow shutter speed and panned the camera to emphasise the movement of the running wildebeest. This required a quick change of camera settings, switching from Aperture Priority (AV) mode to Shutter Priority (TV). Under normal circumstances, I would have also reduced the ISO from 400 to 100, as I certainly didn’t need an aperture of F45. In this case there simply wasn’t enough time, so the the ISO had to stay on 400 and hence the extremely small aperture to compensate for the slow shutter speed. In case you’re wondering – yes, the image has also been digitally manipulated to give a more painterly effect, using a program called Buzz Simplifier that’s no longer available.
Wednesday, July 15th, 2009 at
Photo Details: Trio of Zebras (Equus quagga) partially lit by the slanting rays of late afternoon sunlight, Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana.
Camera: Canon EOS 450D (Canon Rebel XSi 12.2MP); Lens: Canon EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM; Focal Length: 225mm; Shutter speed: 1/80; Aperture: f8; ISO: 400; 30 May 2009, 5.15pm.
Book Review: Recently I wrote about Elephant Reflections, the book by Karl Ammann and Dale Peterson I’d started reading. Well, I’ve now finished reading the text by Peterson, gone back to pore over Ammann’s photographs, and had a chance to write a review of the book. This is much more than a pretty coffee-table book and deserves to be read as it contains an important message about elephants and their long-term survival.
The photographs also deserve to be studied and enjoyed, but this should only be done after first reading Peterson’s text. In my write-up I’ve been less enthusiastic about the photographs than have other reviewers, but maybe that’s because I’m looking at the pictures through the eyes of a photographer. It’s also probable that I was simply expecting too much and have become spoilt by constantly looking at images made by many of the world’s best wildlife photographers. In any event, you’re welcome to read my Elephant Reflections Review and certainly encouraged to buy the book, which is available for around $26 from Amazon.
Wednesday, July 8th, 2009 at
Photo Details: A pair of African Hawk Eagles (Hieraaetus fasciatus) watch for potential prey from their perch on the upper branches of a dead tree, Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana.
Camera: Canon EOS 450D (Canon Rebel XSi 12.2MP); Lens: Canon EF 600L F4 USM + 1.4x converter; Focal Length: 840mm; Shutter speed: 1/640; Aperture: f8; ISO: 200.
Additional Info: These handsome raptors, usually seen in pairs, occur in well-developed woodland where there are large trees where they can perch and watch for prey before swooping down. Males are usually less heavily spotted, which suggests that in the above picture, the female is on the left with her male partner on the right.
Although not a large raptor, the African Hawk Eagle is a versatile hunter known for taking large prey in relation to its size. It has been described as “an extremely bold and dashing bird” that hunts after the manner of a Sparrow Hawk, “dashing among trees and surprising its prey, often pursuing and killing it on the ground”. It will also hover at times and can soar to considerable heights. (Ref: Roberts Birds of South Africa, 4th ed).
Sunday, July 5th, 2009 at
Photo Details: Big Eland bull (Tragelaphus oryx) looks up during a grazing session on the surrounding short green vegetation, Mashatu Game Reserve, Tuli Block, Botswana.
Camera: Canon EOS 450D (Canon Rebel XSi 12.2MP); Lens: Canon EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM; Focal Length: 120mm; Shutter speed: 1/40; Aperture: f8; ISO: 400; Date: 29 May 2009, 5.15pm.
Additional Info: The eland is the largest of Africa’s antelope, with males weighing up to 1 000kg (2 200lbs). Shoulder height is around 1.7m (5ft 6in) for adult males, while that of adult females is about 1.5m (5ft).
Both sexes have straight, slightly diverging horns, although the male’s are thicker and heavier with a spiral ridge near the base. Both males and females also have the characteristic, prominent dewlap, which in the males can be fringed or tufted.
Eland are nomadic and occur usually in small herds, but these groups can at times band together to form very large aggregations numbering in the hundreds.
In spite of their huge size, eland are prodigious jumpers and can easily clear fences 2m (6ft 6in) high. Says Richard Depard Estes (The Behavior Guide to African Mammals): “Fleeing elands often diplay their prowess by jumping effortlessly right over a neighbor, and youngsters can sail over a 3m (10ft) fence from a standing jump”
Although they are predominanty browsers, Eland will happily graze on fresh, sprouting grass and they can survive without water, obtaining their liquid requirements from their food.
Sunday, July 5th, 2009 at
Elephant Reflections (right) is a recently published book from the University of California Press by Karl Ammann (photographs) and Dale Peterson (text).
Although the book is physically quite large and features more than 100 of Ammann’s photographs, it’s certainly not a coffee table book in the traditional sense and is meant to be read. And that’s what I’m doing now – reading Peterson’s compelling account of the elephant’s natural history and the recent field studies undertaken by intrepid researchers, working mainly in Kenya.
It’s quite amazing that as recently as the late 1970s so little was known about the African elephant that researchers initially believed the condition of heightened sexual activity in male elephants we know as “musth” was a form of sexually-transmitted disease they termed “GPD” or Green Penis Disease.
Once I’ve finished reading Elephant Reflections, I hope to add a comprehensive review, including more about the elephant images which form such a substantial part of the book.