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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a solo photographic and birding tour
Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:30 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Day 3 continued

After the drive, I took a nap. Now, anyone that knows me is fully aware that I slept enough during holidays when a student to make up for the rest of my life, so naps are not something I even do on a rainy Sunday while not on standby. Nap time is a time either to watch TV or get done with that admin or tidy or play games or something, but not nap. But, 3.5 h later, what a new person I was. Rested. On holiday! The inner fun started here.

As I was preparing to leave the chalet to find necessities, I noticed that something was wrong. Something distressing. Later I would encounter scary creatures on my path. This was different. Jail… Well, sort of. My door could close and lock as a door should; unlocking worked too; ummm, but opening, not so much. Now I did not unpack my tools from the car as I would most likely need them in the wilderness, so I was trapped. Luckily there are no burglar bars, so I broke out through a bedroom window and opened the door. There was something whimsical about the predicament that made me smile a little, something about childhood oddities and memories coming back. It was almost mischievous getting out, nice. Later I would use a dish cloth wrapped between the two door handles to allow the mechanism to slip out the pillar – engineering in the bush.

Once on parole, I filled up the transport. R733 got me a full tank (at R13.70). Many may complain about the price, but, considering the distance to be covered just to get the fuel there, and let’s face it, having fuel is a luxury not a right although we are so used to it that seems counterintuitive, I think it is cheap. Also, the tanker has to get to KTP and that is it, no other purpose. Out and back. Plus the fuel providing infrastructure has to be built and maintained (I still remember the hand operated pump at Nossob years ago) – without correct design and maintenance, dirty fuel, or worse, dirty soil near the sump, would be a reality. The service was also great, on such a hot day, nice to see a working man smile.

I had some time now to wait out the heat before going out again. So, I fetched a few bags from the car and marched to reception where I was told I could ask for the office where I could leave items for the clothing drive – some blankets, clothes, shoes and travel magazines that I was not using could make someone else happy. Thanks to the organisers of this, you make it easy to want to participate.

Having dropped my stuff off, I decided to reward myself with something cold. I really ambled, much like one does on a Karoo farm when inspecting troughs from the homestead, nothing too fast. The heat was hot, but not that bad, but being so drying just drained every ounce of energy from me. I bought a 2 litre Coke Light (yes, I prefer its taste) and a Rolo ice-cream for R34. Taking into account that someone else brought it to the park for me and that both were kept properly chilled, bargain. I always feel that if you want to complain about prices of anything at a SANParks shop, just bring all the stuff with you. Or budget for it. But don’t complain, it is not that expensive when you again think that someone had to pay for someone to drive a refrigerated truck from far so you could have a frozen ice-cream of flavour you choose on the day. Again, a privilege, well sort of, on holiday, at least one ice-cream is a tradition for me. Passing me in the shop was a friend from the homelands, Secunda – one of three groups of friends from town I knew all on holiday there at the same time, who knew Secunda had that many people?

I got aspeaking to Robbie (a game ranger – not sure if this is offensive as a lower rank or something, but I mean it here as a general term). He was leading the night drive and noted that there were only 2 places booked so far. So I marched myself down to reception (by that I mean I ambled back to my hut to put the drink in the fridge and get the car and drove down) and booked a seat. I had cleared with Robbie that a flash was allowed with the proviso that he could tell me to stop using it if he thought the animal I was targeting was taking offense at the relentless paparazzo – seemed more than fair.

While at reception I mentioned the door issue. Oh the apologies. Shame, I can imagine that many other guests kick up a fuss; I anyhow was pleased with my dish cloth motif, so I said that they could rather fix it when I was gone. Given, partly as I had many thousands in equipment that I would then rather have packed away, but mostly as I did not feel the need to make someone rush out and fix it in the heat, rather a leisurely planned job when I left.

I packed my flash, making sure the batteries were freshly charged. I paired my 6D and 70-200 f2.8 to maximise my low light capabilities. Also, the 500 would be really clumsy in a game drive vehicle. I took my monopod along too. However, as a general rule, while I will always have my camera with me on a drive like this again, such activities should rather be approached as experiences and less as photo ops. To me anyhow. Perhaps my settings were rubbish. Also, as I had feared, 200 mm was never going to be enough.

While waiting for the magical drive which started at 1900 if memory serves, I phoned home. I agree that cell phones are overused these days and ringtones and loud conversations on them are all annoying when in a serene palace like this desert, but being able to check in and make sure that all is well with the SO and little one, that’s pretty cool.

“Okay then, gotta go… Yes, I have everything… Talk to you later then… Bye.” It was time for the drive.

Getting to the vehicle I noted that it was full. Oh no. I was planning on taking some serious pictures and now there was only one seat left and other people and how was I meant to take from both side of the vehicle and what if they were bored and I wasn’t finished – see, don’t make it a photo trip. Luckily I had no such issues, well, except that nobody else cared about birds at all, but oy vey. There were 8 students with me, 7 girls from Holland, 1 German, and 1 other guy. By the end we were all in good spirits with some good conversation, albeit light – they were exchange students studying at Stellies, so how could I not like them? Also, their wanderlust had made 5 of them travel in a Polo Vivo through much of Namibia, coming to KTP via Mata Mata, good solid people. They even let me lean over them when needed.

A general note if on a night drive, when you stop, keep the torch far outside the vehicle lest you be plagued with moths (and other insects I am sure) until someone swots their neighbour to hospital. I got to hold the torch (made me think of simple times doing the same on a farm, only then it was for more sinister appearing activites); there is an art to scanning the vast bush with a torch.

On the drive we spotted, scrub hare, springhare (kangaroo), sociable weavers nest, spotted eagle owl x3, 2 PCGs roosting, jackal, bat-eared fox, brown hyena, lion, AWC, porcupine; we learnt about the rats that split trees, that there is 17% protein in kameeldoring pods and their seeds can be used for coffee (incidentally, the kameeldoring pods also make lovely rattles for 16 month babies, plus then the baby gets some streat cred as who else has such retro play things?). Thanks Robbie for such a relaxed and informative trip. I will not go into much detail as I am sure much gets repeated with each drive I would like others to enjoy the knowledge imparting as much as I did. A special mention though to the porcupine that continued to scurry in the road although our lights were off – what a special sighting.

There were only 2 decent shots I got on the trip. The others are memories, sure, but not worth sharing.
Image

Image

After the drive, partly owing to the long nap but fuelled by the adrenalin of such a fun activity (which was like R203 or something, bargain! Especially if you are alone and that is almost how much petrol you would have used, for a family of 4, perhaps not cheap, but consider budgeting for 1 drive, on a trip, sometime, just for the memory) I had supper. 2 pies, some coke and a crossword by headlamp. Uh oh… the wind is blowing… uh oh… (please read that as if a pantomime) I knew to be wary if the wind blew, and sure enough, a small but scary scorpion came my way. Luckily I noticed it and moved away from where it may have wanted to walk. I quickly noticed that it moved away from my headlamp’s light, so using that, I persuaded the fella to move on and cause a nightmare somewhere else. It is owing to creatures like these that I did not want my littlun to join me on the trip, on curious poke and ouch, no more fun panto scream, real pain and rush to Upington yelling.

After the crossword, it was off to bed.

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Follow my solo KTP photographic and birding TRAVEL TALE

Photograph all moments of beauty not to forget, but treasure them in your heart to remember


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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a solo photographic and birding tour
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 4:24 am 
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I love your narration MxM! You can really tell a story! :clap: :clap:

Your night drive sounds superb with all those wonderful sightings! :dance: :dance:

Thanks for sharing! :popcorn:

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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a solo photographic and birding tour
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 9:35 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Thanks for the kind words, hilda. Enjoy telling stories :D

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Follow my solo KTP photographic and birding TRAVEL TALE

Photograph all moments of beauty not to forget, but treasure them in your heart to remember


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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a solo photographic and birding tour
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 11:49 am 
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marvellous bird pictures, MxM :clap: :clap:

Do you have an idea what happened to the tiny bokkie? It looks like it is bleeding. :(

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KTP 23.09.-08.10.2014
TR KTP 2013 In search of honey badger, porcupine and whistling rat
TR KTP 2012 It is almost time to go back to KTP
TR KNP 2013 Gatita's KNP - will we visit a green park again? March 2013


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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a solo photographic and birding tour
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 1:29 pm 
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Hi gatita

I am not sure what happened. Both it and its mother seemed quite distressed by my presence (was really close to the road) so I moved on. However, all seemed well with nor predators around, so perhaps birthing issue? The mother was still cleaning the little thing.

John of MxM

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Photograph all moments of beauty not to forget, but treasure them in your heart to remember


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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a solo photographic and birding tour
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 3:28 pm 
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I was asked the question by a serious hobby wildlife photographer via the pm system but thought I would share the response if there are others with the same Q:

May I kindly asked what your white balance is as I really struggle to get this right sometimes. I prefer daylight for daytime and cloudy for cloudy days etc but I sometimes wonder if the "Auto" white balance is the right way to go.

This is a really good question. As one of the pros that has mentored me said, this is the only thing to leave on auto. There are times, particularly when I would like a specific effect that I go manual, but then I also do not use the presets but rather set the exact temperature that suits me. This is initially a little trial and error but after a day or two your eye will be well set in. This is of course only really good when shooting from the same spot for a few hours and something specific is in mind, you may be limited on other options if shooting on a specific WB setting.

So in short, to get all the pics right on WB, it is best to shoot auto. Of course, the better the camera the better this will work. For example, in tricky light conditions I find that my Canon 1D4 works better than the 60D, but the 60D still does a good job. It is also easy to forget to check your WB the next day (as I effectively did) and then many pics require significant pp work!

John

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Follow my solo KTP photographic and birding TRAVEL TALE

Photograph all moments of beauty not to forget, but treasure them in your heart to remember


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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a solo photographic and birding tour
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 4:49 pm 
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Day 4 teaser

This was arguably the best day anybody in the world could ever have, and that includes Noble peace prize winners at the awards.

I will just show some images from one of the sightings. The full story and day report and many other images of this and other sightings will follow.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

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Follow my solo KTP photographic and birding TRAVEL TALE

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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a solo photographic and birding tour
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 8:19 pm 
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Hey MxM - the day 4 teaser is unfair! I need to know all about those lions asap! I really like the one where he is snarling (or is it Flehmen response?).

Looking forward to the next read.

Pete of Paarl
(who has 103 sleeps before he gets to KNP)

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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a solo photographic and birding tour
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 8:47 pm 
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Location: The planning is on again.....
Wonderful and extreme impressive bird shots, Matt :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:


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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a solo photographic and birding tour
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 9:05 pm 
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WOW! MxM
Enthusiastic, informative TR with stunning images!
:popcorn:
:popcorn:
:popcorn:


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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a solo photographic and birding tour
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 9:16 am 
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Absolutely stunning photos! That male lion is thrilling

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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a solo photographic and birding tour
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 5:58 pm 
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11.4. Day 4 – The big loop

Distance covered: 268 km
Route travelled: Nossob river-upper dune road-Auob river
Daily fuel consumption: 8.4 l/100km
Maximum temperature: 37oC (only 23oC at noon)
Food: TR restaurant, oats biscuits
Highlights spotted: lion, honey badger, cheetah
Favourite moment: male lion’s stare
Birding lifers: lanner falcon, namaqua sandgrouse
List of birds for this trip: martial eagle, bateleur, lanner falcon, greater kestrel, namaqua sandgrouse, African hoopoe, sabota lark, capped wheatear, wattled starling, southern grey-headed sparrow,

I was up at 0510. Took a really quick shower (partly for time, partly to save water in the desert). First I checked to see if I could escape my prison, yup, more of a cave than a prison then – the cloth from the previous day still worked. It is so much fun making things work as you go along, well, I enjoy it anyhow. I grabbed my gear, made the juice (this time a mix between a “makes 1 litre” iced tea of some flavour and a pair of scoops of orange Game, worked well, lots of ice, as in a tray; refilled the tray), put it all in the car, did a tyre inspection, and I was off to the permit office.

Today I planned the mammoth task of the UDR. I had told myself before I started the trip, that I would drive on every road a non-4x4 could. Just that I could report of all places in this report as well as know, for my next trip, where I want to go and what I may skip.

The intention was to go up the Auob this time. However, when I got to the split I noticed a large bank of heavy dark cloud lingering over that side of the dunes, so I decided that I would be better off rather going up Nossob and down Auob. What a good choice that would turn out to be!

The start to the drive was slow, in retrospect anyhow, as I saw only the normal grazers and common birds. But, all was to change…

Yes, it is brown, but this marico flycatcher was a new one for my list. This was one I really wanted as I do not get them my way.
Image

As you can see from the skies, the light was low but at least it was bright, if you know what I mean by an overcast day having strong light. Note: overcast weather, especially if the overhead conditions are not too heavy, allow for great photography! So long as there is enough light getting through, the cloud/mist acts as a filter and prevents heavy shadows, this means that you can take decent images until much late in the day. I was still enjoying the dunes and, although common, still enjoyed finding a springbok.
Image

Image

Although not always successful, and until you have practiced a lot (and I mean more than 1 hour a lot), slow shutter panning shots can be very effective. The background has a large role to play in that it allows you to shadow the movement but look for colours and that will complement your subject and contrasting pieces (like some shadows or trees) of something that will add lines to further enhance the movement. A general rule of thumb for these shots is 1/100s is good, but, it depends on what effect you are looking for (how much blur, especially relevant with birds and wing blur), how fast your subject is, what your focal length is (longer focal lengths may be able to be set faster), et al. What is important is to first learn the technique and then apply it to a situation you like until you get a good sharp head somewhere - that eye is the key, even here.
Image

Image

I next came across a new guy for the trip. Instead of a boring portrait I tried a high key shot (basically deliberately overexposed using the exposure bias setting). The idea was to get the darker subject to stand out from the background, but dont think this is really a good example. It is an idea though. Better to try and fail than lose an opportunity. Also, these sorts of okay images allows me to learn what works and gives me ideas on how to work a scene the next time.
Image

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Follow my solo KTP photographic and birding TRAVEL TALE

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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a solo photographic and birding tour
Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 3:30 pm 
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Stunning pictures once again MxM! Springbok are always nice to photograph! :clap: :clap:

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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a solo photographic and birding tour
Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:00 pm 
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Great sightings and pics. :clap: :clap: :clap: Did try to compare your lion to the one we saw at Rooiputs and Kamfersboom, but definitely another chap. Where did you spot him. :wink:

:popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:

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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a solo photographic and birding tour
Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2014 12:44 pm 
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Great photos! Thanks for the panning tips!
Will have to try it next time!

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