Etosha Wildlife

I went to a travel expo when I was around 15, and came home with nothing but brochures about African safari tours. Twenty-odd years later, and I finally had the opportunity to go, assisting Martin Bailey to lead his Complete Namibia Tour and Workshop over the last three weeks.

The trip ended with three days in Etosha National Park, a 22,000 square kilometre game reserve, home to hundreds of species of animals, including several which are endangered, including the black rhinoceros.

I don’t do a lot of wildlife photography, so I found myself struggling a little on the first day with an interesting problem to have – there were just too many animals! At the Okaukuejo Waterhole, there was literally a rotating cast of hundreds of zebra, wildebeest, oryx, impala and springbok. It was hard to decide where to point the camera, and then once you’d composed a shot, another animal would come along and stick their head or butt into the frame. Like I said, a good problem to have.

The following days I found my groove a little more, relishing the opportunity to photograph lions, elephants, giraffes and more. The trip came to a wonderful conclusion with an afternoon spent watching and photographing a herd of around 40 elephants arrive, drink & play, and then leave a waterhole.

Click below for the full gallery.

Sleeklens Lightroom Workflow

I’ve been meaning to get out and shoot some landscapes for the last couple of weeks, after the folks at Sleeklens sent me a copy of their “Through The Woods” Lightroom Workflow for Landscapes. I finally managed to get out the door early this morning and head out to Oxley Creek Common, an area of grazing land not far from home.

Turns out it’s not a great spot for my usual wide-open landscapes, with power lines and warehouses running through the background, so I focused first on this fence running away into the early morning fog.

Here’s the straight-out-of-camera photograph. A little dull, huh?

And below is the final product after running through the Sleeklens workflow. Remember that word “workflow”. More on that later.

And of course, although it’s called a Landscape Workflow, the presets can be used on non-landscape photos too. I came across this kookaburra sitting on a low branch, no doubt waiting for some prey to stir. Again, the straight-out-of-camera versions of each shot is first, followed by the finished product.

I’ve tried a lot of Lightroom Presets, most of which are a blunt instrument – one click results in broad scale changes which, if you’re lazy, give you a final product. Or, of course, you can use them as a starting point for further refinement.

The Sleeklens presets work differently. Sure there are some “All In One” traditional-style presets, but the real power comes from the stackable workflow, which allows you to select a base tone, then make some exposure adjustments, colour corrections, tone and tint adjustments and final polishes.

But it doesn’t end there. Sleeklens also includes thirty local adjustment brush presets, which let you go in and make adjustments and corrections to specific parts of the image. The end result is a much more customisable use of presets and adjustment brushes than the one-click “instagram filter” approach of many other presets.

If you’d like to try the Through The Woods workflow yourself, it can be purchased for $39 USD from Sleeklens.

Weekend Wanderlust – The Great Ocean Road

Those of you who have known me for a while may remember that, back in 2010, I drove from Brisbane, through Western New South Wales and South Australia, to Adelaide. After meeting my wife in Adelaide, we then drove across the southern coast to Melbourne, via the Great Ocean Road.

I’ve been thinking about that trip recently, particularly this snake which I lay down on a boardwalk and got very close to in order to photograph. Mostly, I found myself wondering what kind of snake it was, and how much danger I placed myself in. Turns out it was a White-Lipped Snake. Slightly venomous, but mostly harmless.

While digging these photographs out of the archives, I thought I’d revisit a couple of landscapes from the Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road. You can click on the second one to download it as a desktop wallpaper.

Click the image to download a desktop wallpaper version Click the image to download a desktop wallpaper version

Kangaroos in the Rain

I bought a new tent. And a new sleeping mat. I made plans. I was going to camp and photograph my way down the NSW Mid-North Coast. The weather had other ideas. So, in the end, I drove to Newcastle and visited my parents.

Today, I began the drive home, choosing to take some coastal back roads instead of the highway. One of the originally planned stops was Diamond Head, in the Crowdy Bay National Park. I first stumbled across Diamond Head while working in the Lake Cathie & Bonny Hills area around 15 years ago. With a long break between meetings, I chose a road and drove down it, ending up at a tiny campground with kangaroos hopping around on the beach.

Even the kangaroos were smart enough to keep away from the beach today, instead grazing on the grass at the back of the dunes.

Misty Morning

(or, when options come in handy)

Photographers often say “the best camera is the one you have with you”, meaning any camera, even if it’s just your phone, is better than no camera. While that’s true, yesterday’s outing demonstrated the benefits of sometimes overpacking and giving yourself a few options to choose from.

I had planned to make a trip to Mount Tamborine, to walk and photograph the Palm Grove and Jenyns Circuit bushwalks. Since this loop is around 5km, I initially decided to just bring my light camera. But at the last minute I thought that, with the recent warmer weather, I might see some snakes beginning to emerge after winter. So, I left the big, heavy camera with the 70-200mm lens in the bag as well.

Good choice. As I drove through the fogged-in valley before heading up the mountain, I noticed some horses off in a misty paddock to the right. I checked for oncoming traffic, u-turned and parked beside the road. The horses were a little way off in the field, so the 18-55mm lens on the little camera really wouldn’t have been useful. So, out with the 70-200mm for a few photographs before continuing up the mountain.

The photos from the bush walk were nothing worth sharing, so present-Heath is pretty pleased with past-Heath for his incredible foresight. Didn’t see any snakes, either.

Hokkaido Day 6

We’re now in Japan’s most northern city of Wakkanai, where we will spend the next couple of days exploring the coast before making our way across the north of the island and down the east coast.

On the drive today, we stopped suddenly on the highway when someone noticed a fox and a couple of Stellar’s Sea Eagles feeding on a deer carcass in the snow. I was reminded of this post by David duChemin, who is travelling with us, when my attempt at a photograph of the fox failed because I still had the shutter on a 2-second timer from a previous landscape location. I hit the button and the beeps started. By the time the shutter released the shot was missed. But, I recovered in time to get this shot of one of the eagles coming in to take advantage of the newly vacated buffet.

And now, for a few more in what is in danger of becoming my “Twigs of Hokkaido” series.

Snoring Snoopy

Snoopy, doing what Snoopy does best. Sleeping on the couch with one eye slightly open.

This shot was processed in Lightroom using one of Matt Warrell’s Summer Lightroom Presets as a starting point. I’ll have a review of the presets sometime soon, but if you don’t want to wait, you can pick them up here for $15.

Kinsgcliff

I’m in Kingscliff in Northern NSW for the weekend. Time for some fun with the camera.

Fun with flora
Fun with flora
Fun with fauna
Fun with fauna
Fun with clouds and rainbows
Fun with clouds and rainbows
Fun with the Lee Big Stopper
Fun with the Lee Big Stopper
Fun with camera movement
Fun with camera movement

Monkey Magic

We spent the morning at the Arashiyama Monkey Park, an area where around 140 wild monkeys live. I took some photos.

That almost – almost – makes up for not getting a chance to go to the monkey hot springs near Nagano.

Followed by a stroll through the famous bamboo grove.

Tokyo Postcards 2

A few shots from the Imperial Palace East Garden and Koishikawa Korakuen

And a couple from around the streets of Shibuya