Morocco Slideshow Video (Podcast 628)

Morocco Slideshow Video (Podcast 628)

For this week’s post, I’ve produced a video to showcase Morocco, containing fifty-something images from last year’s Tour & Workshop that I ran. As I’m running over time-wise, as is often the case when I create the music too, I’ve put a small version of the video in the Podcast feed, but the full-sized 4K version is below for you to check out.

As usual, the music is a bit rushed, but it should complement the video, so grab a cuppa, turn up your speakers, and sit back for a four-minute tour of Morocco!

Morocco Portfolio

You can also view most of these photos at your own pace in my Morocco Portfolio if you are interested. 

2018 Morocco Tour

We have actually had a few cancellations for this year’s Morocco Tour & Workshop, so if you might like to join us in November, check out the tour page here: https://mbp.ac/morocco

Morocco Tour & Workshop 2018


Show Notes

See details of our Morocco Tour here: https://mbp.ac/morocco

Music by Martin Bailey

Subscribe in iTunes for Enhanced Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.


Complete Namibia Tour 2017 Travelogue 3 (Podcast 580)

Complete Namibia Tour 2017 Travelogue 3 (Podcast 580)

This week we continue our travelogue series recounting my recent Complete Namibia Tour, as we move to our second day in Sossusvlei and Deadvlei, then move on to photograph the beautiful Himba people.

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We pick up the trail at dawn on our sixth photography day, when we were back in Deadvlei, for a second shoot with the iconic dead camel-thorn trees against the red dune background. I showed you my first day’s images from this spot last week, and I also mentioned that it’s getting really hard for me now to find a new composition.

The minimalist photographer in me wants to compose my images with minimal elements to provide impact, but the trees in Deadvlei are between 600 and 700 years old, so it’s not like we get new trees growing to provide new photo opportunities. I’d spent a lot of time the previous day looking for something new, and found a pair of trees that I was OK with, but then I went back and photographed the original pair that I’d shot on my first visit in 2013. I have been trying to get 50-megapixel versions of my old favorite images anyway, so that was nice to do, but now I needed to shoot something new.

The Gathering

I settled for a composition that I’d actually framed up and then given up on the previous morning. As you can see in this first photo for this week (below) the image is quite busy in some ways, with eight trees, instead of my usual two or three. I also don’t like the way the four trees on the left side all overlap, but there isn’t any way to avoid this because if I move sideways, either way, other trees creep into the sides of the frame and I lose the separation between the four right trees.

The Gathering

The Gathering

Having said that, overnight, this composition had started to grow on me. There was, of course, a sense that I had to abandon my search for a new composition with fewer trees. I spent more time on this second morning looking again, but as I’d expected, I came up dry. Like I say though, thinking about this composition overnight, it had started to grow on me, so I decided to go with this, and I’m now relatively happy with the results.

I also often find that with these images, there is an expanded version that brings in an extra element to enhance or tell a slightly different story. This first image is about a gathering of beings, as though they are meeting to talk about something. The largest tree on the right is perhaps talking to the others, maybe just gossiping or telling them something a little more sinister.

The Sermon

In this next image, I zoomed out a little from 360 mm to 278 mm and included an extra tree to the right. I entitled the previous images The Gathering, and I’ve called this one The Sermon. They aren’t a set necessarily, but with this image, I almost feel as though the gathering in the previous image was a group of townspeople waiting for the ninth tree in this image. Now they are listening to whatever that tree has to say.

The Sermon

The Sermon

It isn’t obvious, but the largest tree in this shot and the small crooked tree to the right of the main group, then the right-most new tree in this shot is actually the three trees from the shot I made in 2013 and the one that I shared with you last week from the previous day on this trip. That will probably illustrate how a different angle can create a totally different image.

Tree and Dune #40

Tree and Dune #40

Dune #40

After our morning shoot in Deadvlei, we took a steady drive back to the lodge, and had a few hours rest during the mid-day heat, then headed back out again at 3 pm to photograph the next dune along from the one we shot on the previous afternoon.

The dunes are numbered by the distance from the gate to the national park. The previous day we’d shot dune number 35, and on this day we traveled another five kilometers along the road to dune number 40.

This one is closer to the road, though still a bit of a walk out until you get to a point where you can photograph something like this image (right) with the camel thorn tree at the base and just the dune in the background.

There was some thin cloud cover on this day, so the contrast between the dark side of the dune and the light side wasn’t so great. You can still see the sand blowing off the right side though, over the crest of the dune.

I shot this at 248 mm, and all three of these first images for today were shot with my Canon 100-400mm Mark II lens.

My settings were f/11 for a 1/50 of a second at ISO 400. I was using a slightly higher ISO so that my shutter speed didn’t get too low, partly because of the wind, but also, in this case, so I didn’t blur the movement of the sand too much. 1/50 of a second will show a little bit of movement in that sand, but 1/13 or so if I’d used ISO 100 would have probably shown the sand a little bit too smoothed over, and perhaps start to reduce the definition.

The following morning, a number of the participants did a helicopter ride, and I’d planned to do a balloon ride with a few other participants, but the wind was blowing in the wrong direction on this day, so our balloon didn’t go up. The helicopter did though, and those guests got some amazing shots.

Zeila Shipwreck

After we gathered the group back together at 9 am we started our long drive to Walvis Bay, where we’d spend one night before driving up the Skeleton Coast towards Sesfontein. We made a number of stops along the way of course, and one that turned out to be nice and productive was the Zeila Shipwreck.

As we approached, with the morning mist still quite thick, our driver asked if it was worth going because the weather was so bad. Of course, my answer was hell yes! As you can see from this next image, we were able to photograph the Zeila not only in somewhat rough seas but with a bit of mist too. I’ve increased the contrast quite a bit, so the mist isn’t heavily apparent, but I think you can still get a sense of story from this image (below).

Zeila Shipwreck in Mist

Zeila Shipwreck in Mist

I don’t get too hung-up about trying to create a sense of story in my images, opting usually for the goal that I want my images to invoke some kind of an emotion in the viewer. But, when you have story staring you in the face, it’s definitely worth working with. A shipwreck sitting in a calm sea on a sunny day doesn’t really have any more story than, OK, it’s a shipwreck.

A shipwreck in mist with rough seas tells you so much more about why the ship ran ashore in the first place. Of course, it’s a fine line though. I left only a hint of the mist with my processing because I wanted to show the definition of the ship and the waves. The original picture has much heavier mist, but that led to less clarity.

I shot this with my Canon 24-105mm Mark II lens at 105 mm, with an aperture of f/14 and an ND filter to give me a 1.3 second exposure at ISO 100. I did some much longer exposures as well which I also like, but I like the texture left in the sea at just over a one-second exposure.

Zebra Dust Trail

We continued our journey, photographing a number of other things along the way, and arrived at Sesfontein as the sun was getting close to the horizon. Just outside town, we noticed some zebras in the beautiful warm light, and I got a few frames. One with three zebras, and this shot, with just a lone zebra, creating a dust wake as he chases after the group.

Zebra at Dusk

Zebra at Dusk

We would spend three nights in Sesfontein to give us access to a number of Himba settlements. The Himba are a wonderful semi-nomadic people and incredibly photogenic due to the ochre cream that they make and spread on their skin, and their distinctive hair and various decorative items that the women generally wear.

Himba Girl Two Years On

The following morning, we headed to the nearby Himba village for a wonderful cultural experience that often becomes the highlight of the tour for many people. As we talked to the Himba, via our interpreter guides, of course, I asked if the girl that I’d photographed in 2015 was still in the village. I showed photographs of the girl in Episode 489 but you can initially see her in this photograph (below) on the right, looking over at her own photograph on my iPhone.

Seeing Oneself

Seeing Oneself

Two Years Older

Two Years Older

I didn’t get a photograph of it, but the look on her face as she realized that the photo was her was priceless. The Himba don’t have mirrors, so their mental view of themselves isn’t as strong as in other cultures. The rest of the group initially seemed more interested in the photo, because they have of course seen this girl from their own perspective as she’s grown.

I asked the girl if I could photograph her again, and she agreed to go inside one of their huts so that I could repeat my previous images. I got one of her looking towards the light, which is one of my favorite images from my 2015 trip, but as we’re already going to be showing 11 images today, we’ll skip that one.

Here (right) you can see her looking very proud, and if you compare her to the images from two years ago, you’ll see that she’s pretty much lost that childlike roundness from her face, as she grows into a beautiful young woman.

To photograph these photos inside the hut, I crank my ISO up to 5000. This is one of those times when I take great pleasure in blowing one of the most spoken 5Ds R myths clean out of the water. People love to come up with excuses to not like high-resolution cameras, and one that I hear about the 5Ds R the most is that it has terrible high ISO performance.

I can assure you, that if you expose to the right, and ensure you are recording good quality image information, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. For these images, I was shooting at f/5.6 for a 1/80 of a second shutter speed, and at ISO 5000 this gives me images in which the white on the girl’s neckband was just starting to blow out, becoming slightly over-exposed. The rest of the image is actually quite a lot brighter than what you are seeing here. I darken it down in post for this effect, but the point is, if you are careful with your exposure, you will not see any noticeable grain, even in a photo like this, at ISO 5000.

Himba Smile

Himba Smile

I couldn’t resist also asking this girl to give me a smile, as you can see in this photograph (right). Of course, as I only speak a few words of her language, everything is relayed by mannerisms. When I want her to smile, I lower my camera and give her a big smile.

I was also surprised by how much this girl has grown in two years. When I photographed her before, she was standing in the hut, making her about the same height in the hut that you see in these photos, but when I asked her to stand this time, her head was almost touching the roof, and her face was out of the light from the doorway.

I initially asked her in words to kneel, but she didn’t understand. I then touched my own knees, and then the floor, but she didn’t understand that either, so as a last resort, I lightly touched one of her knees, then touched the floor, and she understood that.

It can be difficult, and of course, as a middle-aged man in a confined space with a young girl you have to be careful what you do, but with thought, it’s possible to relay posing instructions to a degree.

As a thank you for these photographs, in addition to taking supplies to the village, I bought one of this girls trinkets, as they set up a stall to sell us their wares after we’ve photographed them. My current wish is that I’ll be able to photograph this girl as she grows, and hopefully one day be able to photograph her children as well. I think that would be an amazing project to watch grow.

Later in the day, we revisited the village to photograph the Himba bringing their goats back into the corral. I have lots of frames but thought I’d share this one (below) which I found a little bit comical. The Himba lady looks like she’s saying “Really!” as the goat rears up to butt another. The hand and body posture just struck a funny chord with me.

Really? You're Going to Butt Him?

Really? You’re Going to Butt Him?

For this shot, I’d set my ISO to 800, so that I could freeze the motion in the goats with a shutter speed of 1/500 of a second at f/11.

Giraffe on the Plains

On our way out to Purros the following day, we passed through some beautiful countryside. To me, the countryside in Namibia often isn’t quite complete without a beautiful animal in it, so I was happy when we found this giraffe strolling across the plains, looking like it doesn’t have a care in the world (below).

Giraffe on the Plain

Giraffe on the Plain

It was nice to see so much foliage out on these plains as well. It’s often a lot arider than this. I photographed this scene at f/8 with ISO 200 at 1/400 of a second, at 400mm. I was trying to keep a relatively fast shutter speed to freeze the motion of the giraffe and also matching my focal length with my shutter speed helps to avoid camera shake.

Kiss

Kiss

Purros Himba

We drove over to another Himba settlement near Purros and had another wonderful cultural experience. Most of the women were down at the river gathering firewood when we arrived, but we were able to photograph the children until they came back.

Once back, they needed a few minutes to put their traditional headwear on, before we started to photograph them. My favorite image from this shoot is this one (right).

Unfortunately, I don’t know if this is the ladies baby, but I thought the show of affection with the kiss was beautiful, and a lovely moment to capture. The Himba people don’t openly show their feelings, so this warm and caring gesture was a nice surprise.

This was actually in the doorway of a hut, so I had my ISO set to 1600 for a 1/125 of a second exposure at f/8.

There were a number of people in the village in regular clothes as well, and it makes me wonder how much longer these people will continue to live in traditional dress on the whole. At this point, we are not able to tell them that we are going, and most of the villagers are always in traditional dress when we turn up, so I’m sure it’s still very much a part of their culture, but I imagine as Western values and amenities become more available, we’ll start to see more people in regular clothes in their villages.

The Himba people are photographed often during trips to Namibia, so I don’t necessarily have anything unique here, but I do feel incredibly fortunate and privileged to be able to photograph these people, especially if they do start to lose their current grasp on their rich culture.

We’ll wrap it up there for today, and next week we’ll pick up the trail as we head into the Etosha National Park for the last four days of the trip. I have 257 images from Etosha in my final selection, and my first pass through these to select images that I’d like to show you resulted in a collection of 76 images. I’ve tried to whittle this down to just ten, but I got to 24, so we’ll probably run for two more episodes to complete this travelogue series in a total of five parts.

Complete Namibia Tour 2018

If you would like to join me in Namibia on my 2018 tour, please do check out the details and you can book from the tour page at https://mbp.ac/namibia. For another culturally rich tour, you might also consider my Morocco trip from the end of October 2017, which you can find at https://mbp.ac/morocco.

Complete Namibia Tour & Workshop 2018

Complete Namibia Tour & Workshop 2018


Show Notes

Check out details of my 2018 Namibia Tour here: https://mbp.ac/namibia

And my Morocco Tour details can be found here: https://mbp.ac/morocco

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).

Download this Podcast in Enhanced Podcast M4A format. This requires Apple iTunes or Quicktime to view/listen.


Namibia Full Circle Tour 2015 Travelogue Part 4 (Podcast 489)

Namibia Full Circle Tour 2015 Travelogue Part 4 (Podcast 489)

This is part four of a series of travelogue style episodes to walk you through my recent visit to Namibia, co-hosting an amazing photography tour with my friend Jeremy Woodhouse.

Himba Boy

Himba Boy

We pick up the trail on August 20, when we visit the first of two Himba villages that we visited during our tour.

The Himba are a nomadic people with a strong culture, and visiting their village is a highlight of the tour for many participants, including me of course.

This first photo that we’re going to look at is of a Himba boy, or maybe we should call him a young man, that posed for me in the doorway of one of their huts (right).

Direct sunlight is very harsh, so we generally ask the Himba to stand in shade or go inside their huts, like this. It really helps to reduce the contrast, although it does require a high ISO to get your shots, as you’ll see later.

As this was still in the doorway, I set my ISO to 320 for this first photo, at f/5.6 for a 1/100 of a second exposure.

I also used the Radial Filter in Lightroom to highlight the boys face, by reducing the Exposure of the rest of the image by 0.6. It’s not a huge change, but subtly changes the feel and atmosphere of the image.

There’s one thing with this photo that I can’t quite make my mind up about, and that is that if you zoom in on his eyes, you can see me crouching down in front of him with my camera. It produces a nice catch-light, but I would prefer it if I wasn’t there, so I might at least desaturate my shirt later.

Himba Lady Taking Smoke Bath

Himba Lady Taking Smoke Bath

This next photo (right) is shot inside a hut, at ISO 6400, f/4, for 1/80th of a second. I know that this will have some of you cringing, thinking that it must be full of grain, but it simply isn’t, because I was exposing to the right.

I have actually reduced the Exposure by 0.55 in Lightroom to darken the lady’s skin to a natural level, but the original was brighter than this, with the highlights close to being over exposed.

This greatly reduces any grain that creeps in at high ISOs. Most people get scared of the grain and select a lower ISO, but that makes the exposure lower, recording the image data in the middle or on the left of the histogram, and that in turn ironically introduces more grain.

The moral of this story of course, is don’t be afraid to increase your ISO in situations like this, even if you reduce the Exposure later. Your photos will thank you for it.

The Himba lady here is actually taking a bath. When we asked her to go inside her hut, she quickly picked up a small pot with some dried twigs inside, and set light to them with the fire in a hearth near the center of the room, and then covered it with that ocher colored cloth which she draped over the smouldering twigs and her lower body. This is how the Himba people cleanse themselves, instead of bathing in water, which is too scarce in this areas to use for washing.

These next two photos are of the same Himba girl, with the one of the left also inside the hut. The only light in the hut is that which comes in through the doorway, so it really does light up the subjects face with a soft light, which I had the girl look into for this first shot (below, left).

I shot this as f/5.6, ISO 5000 for 1/80 of a second. I reduced the ISO for this one partly because she was closer to the doorway than the last image, but also because the white on her shells was starting to blow out, and I wanted to protect those highlights.

Himba Girl

Himba Girl

Himba Girl

Himba Girl

The photo on the right was shot at f/5.6 still, but this time she was in the doorway, so I had my ISO at 400, for a 1/100 of a second (above, right). Once again, I used the Radial Filter in Lightroom for these, to highlight the face a little, by reducing the Exposure of the rest of the image.

Himba Lady with Baby

Himba Lady with Baby

This next photo (right) is of a young Himba mother, with her child. Jeremy, the tour leader, asked her to walk out into their enclosure for about 50 paces, and then walk back again.

This is probably my favorite shot. A view from the back, which has more story to it in my opinion. We can imagine them walking away to start something, and we think about what it is that they are going to do, or maybe they are leaving us, and we consider our feelings about being left behind.

We had actually left the village before lunch, and had returned with some supplies later in the afternoon, so here, the light is much warmer at this time than it would have been during the morning, so this was a nice opportunity to get some shots outside the huts.

I shot this with my 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, at f/4, for 1/400 of a second at ISO 100. This is one of the few times that I actually used my 70-200m lens during the tour, but I wanted the wider aperture for portraits, which I why I put it into my vest pocket before we entered the village.

There’s actually a relatively sad story attached to having the 70-200mm lens in my vest pocket. Most of the Himba people don’t speak much English, and yet there is one word that the children seemed to whisper to us often, and that is “Water”.

They’re having a dry year, and often the small children would point to my pocket, and get closer to my ear and whisper “water”. They thought it was a water bottle in my pocket. I felt terrible when I had to tell them it was a lens, which they had zero interest in. We did have some water in our vehicle though, which we gave them as part of our payment for their kindness in letting us into their village and their lives.

We continued shooting after this, as the Himba people kindly allowed us to photograph them herding their goats into the corral for the night, as we can see in this photo (below). The are hills behind this scene, so the sun goes behind the hill before it gets close to the horizon. This means that the light is getting warm, but not as warm as it would be later, if the hills weren’t there. There’s nothing we can do about that of course, and I still like the resulting photos a lot.

Himba Goat Herding

Himba Goat Herding

This image was shot at f/8, ISO 500 with a shutter speed of 1/320 of a second. I needed a fast-ish shutter speed to mostly freeze the action, which is what I did here.

The light did start to warm up more as it clipped the top of the hills, as we continue to shoot. The dust in the air also helped as it’s a brownish color from the dirt, as we can see here. I particularly like how we can see the sun’s rays in the dust in this photograph (below), which was shot at f/9, ISO 800 for 1/320 of a second.

Goat Herd in Sun's Rays

Goat Herd in Sun’s Rays

After shooting the goat herding for a while, we joked with the ladies in this photograph, and then started walking back to the main enclosure, and to our vehicles which were outside. I walked back with two of the children, which I lifted up, one in each hand, time and again as they laughed, and seemed to enjoy the experience. I absolutely loved playing with the kids, and the cultural exchange that we had here. The girl of the two children even danced for me for a while, which I caught on video with my iPhone. I have a lot of clips from the trip, and will probably embed them into a slideshow at some point, as time allows.

Purros

The following day, we started another long drive to a place called Purros, where we would start the first of four nights bush camping. Not long into our drive, we came across these men herding long horn cattle to a bore hole for them to take their daily drink (below).

Herding Long Horns

Herding Long Horns

Jeremy’s car drove ahead, and asked if it was OK to photograph them, and we pulled back a way and got out of our vehicles to do just that. This first photo was shot at f/8, ISO 200 with a shutter speed of 1/800 of a second. Here I shot at 286mm, and included the man on his donkey and the entire herd.

As the cattle grew near, I pulled back a little to 158mm, and captured a smaller number of long horns (below). I also adjusted the shutter speed to 1/500 of a second, to keep the data on the histogram over on the right, then I actually reduced the Exposure in Lightroom to -0.20 in this shot. Again, this is a subtle change, but keeping the information as far to the right as possible helps to keep the image quality as high as possible, so even when there is only a small amount to be gained, I tend do this by reflex.

Long Horns

Long Horns

Later that day, just outside Purros, we started to see lots of desert adapted giraffes, such as this one (below). I have a lot of giraffe photos from this trip. And I mean, a LOT! But this is probably one of my favorites, mainly because of the texture created by the tree in this image. The detail is amazing, and I’m looking forward to printing this one to see how it looks on paper.

Desert Giraffe

Desert Giraffe

Next week we’re going to wrap up this series, with one last episode of images, starting with a visit to a second Himba village, and then we drive around the riverbed of the Hoanib River. Although the results aren’t great due to the environment, we had came across a pride of desert lions that had just brought down a young giraffe, and some amazing encounters with desert elephants, so do stay tuned.


Show Notes

Music by the Staff of the Kulala Lodge in Sossusvlei – Thank you!


Audio

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Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).

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Google Plus 2nd Anniversary Photo Walk in Tokyo (Podcast 377)

Google Plus 2nd Anniversary Photo Walk in Tokyo (Podcast 377)

It doesn’t seem like two years since Google Plus was launched, but last Saturday, on June 29, we celebrated Google Plus’ 2nd birthday with a photo walk here in Tokyo. I ended up with 21 photos from the day, and have select 10 to talk about with regards to my thinking behind the photos, and also just to fill you in on the day.

I’ve uploaded my 21 shots to the event photo gallery on Google Plus, and I’ve also uploaded them to my own Google Plus gallery, if you’re interested in taking a look. Because I want to put out a Podcast on this walk today, just two days after the walk, I won’t be making a decision as to whether or not any of these photos will end up as long term keepers, as the emotional connection with the day is too strong still.

Sky Tree Reflection

Skytree Reflection

I’ve got a feeling that a few might make it, but a number of them won’t. I’m definitely happy enough with the shots to talk about these ten today though, especially when you consider that this is really just a bit of fun. If I can make anything worth keeping out of it, that’s an added bonus.

So, we started at the Tokyo Skytree, a new broadcasting tower that was completed in March 2011 and has just started broadcasting it’s signal out to the Tokyo area. It replaces the wonderfully characteristic Tokyo Tower that for me, as for many, will probably remain one of the iconic structures symbolizing Japan’s economic growth as they rebuilt the country after World War II.

Tokyo Tower isn’t going anywhere just yet though. It will remain open and you’ll be able to travel to the top in the elevator etc. for a while yet. It’s just that there have been so many high-rise buildings built around Tokyo Tower that with it’s relatively low height of 333 meters (1,093 ft) it was no longer able to broadcast to the entire area, leaving some parts of Tokyo without a proper digital TV signal.

Anyway, I arrived at about 10am, 30 minutes before the meeting time, as I’d left early enough for the trains to run a little late, which they didn’t, but my plan was to walk around the tower trying to find some interesting angles if I had any free time before we started. This first image is one of a few of the Skytree that I’ve uploaded, and here I’d found a spot where the tower was reflected in the windows over an elevated passageway between the tower and the adjacent shopping area etc. I lined up the shot so that the reflection kind of completed the tower, as though you are looking up at an open railing rather than a set of windows.

I used Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2 to convert to black and white, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I love black and white skies. They always seem much more dramatic than a straight color shot, and I also just like black and white architecture. I’ve found over the years that the majority of Tokyo architecture photos that I’ve shot just look better to me in black and white. This is true of all black and white photos of course, but removing the color helps us to see the structure and form of the subject, without the added color information, which can often be distracting. I was also conscious here of the amount of roof I placed on the right side, and that patch of textured siding at the bottom, wanting to give them weight, minimizing the space for the tower and sky, to add a little drama to the photo.

After photographing the Skytee alone for a while, I went around to the meeting point, and found a good sized crowd already gathered. I met a few friends that I hadn’t seen in person since the first anniversary walk a year ago, and there were a lot of new faces. Remember names was going to be difficult. I’m terrible with names at the best of times…

I found the registration queue, and let them know I was there, paid my money for the boat we’d ride on later, the entrance fee to Hamarikyu, and most importantly, my $40 for the party that we’d have when the walk finished. I was given a sticker with my Google Plus profile photo and name on it, a map and key times for the walk, and a Google camera strap, which is actually quite cool.

We had a steady walk around, and shot the tree some more before starting to walk towards the Asakusa area. We passed through a small park, in a small corner of which is the Ushima Shrine, and we were lucky enough to find a wedding ceremony in progress (below).

Mohican/Japanese Wedding

Mohican/Japanese Wedding

I switched between Aperture Priority and Manual exposure modes throughout the day, still trying to get used to Aperture Priority, which I had set when I shot this. I had Auto ISO set too, to give the camera more wiggle room, and with Plus 2/3 Exposure Compensation for this shot, the camera set my ISO to 1000 with a shutter speed of 1/80 of a second, at f/4.0. I had added a little exposure compensation to stop this from going dark, but I didn’t need much.

Yagishita-san Doin't His Thang!

Yagishita-san Doin’t His Thang!

I have to admit that I didn’t even notice that the guy in this shot had a mohican, which I thought was quite cool to say the rest of the wedding still seemed to be very traditional. We can also see the Shinto Priest wafting his Ounusa, like a wand with paper streamers on it, to purify the happy couple. We heard from the Shinto priest that blessed us during our Winter Wonderland Tour here in Japan this year, that bad spirits are sucked into the paper on the Ounusa, and then sent on their way, removing them from the people being blessed.

We had to shoot this from outside of course, and as my longest lens was the 24-70mm, I had to crop just a little bit from around the edges here to clean it up a little. Note too that I used the new Upright feature in Lightroom 5 to straighten the vertical lines, and it worked like a charm with one click.

Next up we see Shuhei Yagishita (right), a Tokyo Plusser jumping for us on a wall, in front of the Skytree. It was a relatively narrow wall, but luckily there wasn’t much of a drop on the other side, as I had visions of him doing a duChemin on us when I first saw him climb up there. He was a great sport though, and jumped a few times on request. I like the leg position and dynamism in this frame.

Note that with the black and white conversion here, I didn’t go as dark with the sky as I usually do, because Shuhei had a black t-shirt on, and we’d lose the separation if the sky was too dark. It would have been great if we could have done this when there was a big fluffy cloud behind his upper body too, but we didn’t have that luxury.

By this point, it was 12:30, and we would now have a couple of hours of free time to go and get lunch in the Asakusa area, and I found this next scene under the highway as I headed over.

Downtown

Downtown

This was actually quite a colorful store, and the first of these images that I considered leaving in color, but as I worked through my set, I found myself with so many photos that would be black and white, I started to really want to do the entire set in black and white. I processed each of them individually, using various settings, and various color filters and color channel tweaks to emphasize or deemphasize colors depending on the photo.

Old Gentleman Taking a Rest

Old Gentleman Taking a Rest

Note too that as this was under the highway, the only light in the scene was that which was pouring in from the left of the frame, so I reduced the Highlights slider in Lightroom to -18, and then reduced the highlights in Silver Efex slightly too, to tone down the left side which was slightly overexposed in my original.

Sitting on the bench on the left of the last photo, was this old gentleman (right), enjoying his cigarette. This is one of those times when I turn on the under-excercised street photographer in me, and fought my anxiety to ask permission for a photo. Although I’ve started to enjoy this type of photography over the last couple of years, I still don’t give it enough time to really get comfortable with this, and as far as I believe, many people never get over the anxiety of walking up to strangers and asking them if it’s OK to photograph them.

It makes it a lot easier when you speak the language though, and although this gentleman looked quite stern as I approached, I smiled and said hello, and knelt down so that I wasn’t looking down at him, and asked if it would be OK to photograph him, adding that I thought his beard was absolutely incredibly cool, and I did.

I shot two frames, and then showed him them on the camera, and his face lit up, so I shot a couple more. This was the second to last, as he blinked in the last photograph. I found that he was a local, living in this area, and after a very brief conversation, I thanked him again, and moved on.

Sensouji (Temple)

Sensouji (Temple)

I entered the street of old stores that runs up to the Sensouji Temple from the side, just past the middle, and started to make my way up to the main temple. The Google film crew stopped and videoed me standing in the middle of the crowds for a while, but despite our group being over eighty strong, once I’d left the the video crew, I didn’t see a single person from our photo walk group until I made my way around to the afternoon meeting point at around 2:30, about half an hour after this shot from inside the main Sensouji Temple building (left).

I didn’t see any no photography signs, and none of the officials asked me to stop, so being somewhat respectful that this is a place of worship, I shot a handful of images like this. If you’ve ever been to a large shrine or temple like this in Japan though, you’d know that they aren’t quite the same as religious building in most other countries.

Although the Japanese will throw coins into the box in front of the area where the main ceremonies are held, then clap to alert the gods to their wishes, before holding their hands together and praying for a while, it’s not as serious as most countries, for want of a better word. Maybe sullen works better, but to many Japanese, a visit to a shrine is part of the tourism or day trip that they’re probably on, and although many locals will feel very attached to this place spiritually, for many here, it’s just another stop, something to tick off, before they move on to see the next Tokyo sight.

Again in Aperture Priority at f/11 for a deep depth of field, my ISO jumped up to 8000 here for a 30th of a second, but the 5D Mark III ensured there was too much grain in the shot. This also allowed me to capture all the beautiful detail in the roof of this building that I honestly had never really noticed before. There is always so much light pouring in from the doors that the ceiling is usually very dark, so this was a fresh look at the building for me.

After Sensouji, I headed back around to the banks of the Sumida River where we were to meet, and half the group would ride the water bus to Hamarikyu, a park that we’d walk around later in the afternoon. The meeting time was 2:30, which seemed a little over cautious when you consider that our boat wouldn’t leave until 3:20, but I got there on time, and chatted to others as I waited.

This photo (below) was shot from the roof of our boat, as we pulled away from the pier. By now, the light was further around the Skytree, so unlike the earlier shots, it was now easier to capture it’s metallic surface and all the detail. The other reason I shot this of course was because Himiko, the futuristic boat to the left had entered the picture.

Himiko with Sky Tree

Himiko with Sky Tree

Himiko was designed by Reiji Matsumoto, a Japanese anime and manga artist behind Space Battleship Yamato and a plethora of space adventures. I find it fascinating and incredibly cool that Japanese society, often considered very serious and staid, would commission an artist to design and create a boat like this. I think it’s things like this that help to keep the Japanese sane in their otherwise often very restrictive lifestyles.

The sail along the river to the Hamarikyu gardens was nice, with most of the group on top of the boat, and as we set off, a Google video crew had set up on one of the first bridges we’d travel under, and we all waved and cheered for the camera as we approached. They were filming on the boat amongst us too, with wide angle lenses extended out on monopods, swinging them over our heads. I’m quite looking forward to seeing the video, and I’m hoping it doesn’t turn out to be just a promotional video for one of their recommended plussers like last year’s video. I don’t see that happening this year though. They didn’t seem to be focusing on any one person.

I got a few shots from Hamarikyu, but this is a difficult spot to work. It’s very Japanese in some ways, and has great contrast with the towering architecture behind the park, but I’ve never really been able to get anything spectacular there. I spent most of the afternoon walking around with a guy named Camilo Medina, a talented photographer living here in Tokyo, and was enjoying the conversation as much as the photography.

We walked through the city a little more, then got on the Oedo train line for a few stops, over to Azabujuban, then walked for about 15 minutes from there to Roppongi Hills, where Google Japan is based. They’d kindly used there super-powers to get us press passed to the Sky Deck on the roof of the Mori Tower, the huge cylindrical building there, and we were given permission to use tripods, which was great!

As the sun drew close to the horizon, this first shot is before the city lights really started to come on. You can see from the blur in the clouds that this was a long exposure, but it was only 30 seconds. This was one of the first I did, but although I tried to go longer, there weren’t that many places where you could get a clear view out over the city with a wide angle lens, but without getting the railings around the deck in the shot.

Tokyo from Sky Deck

Tokyo from Sky Deck

The best place I found was where the resident photographers stood people for their tourist “I’ve been to the Sky Deck” photo, and there were people that kept coming down to the left side of this same spot, so timing was really difficult. I’m happy with this shot mind, which I basically shot with the camera pointed further up that I wanted to, to avoid people’s heads. It allowed me to get some nice sky movement in though, and we can see out to the sea in the distance, showing that Tokyo is very much a port town, though people don’t really think of it that way.

As the city lights came up, I shot this next image, which is just a six second exposure, no longer using a neutral density filter as I was for the last image. I wanted to do longer, but the obstructions were stopping me, and although there were times when I could get a clear view, there was a family that that come out on the deck, and their kids were jumping up on the hand rail, then time and again jumping back down onto the wood deck on which we were standing. This of course meant that during most of my longer exposures the deck would shake, and my shot was ruined, so I gave up on the longer exposures.

Tokyo Tower from Sky Deck

Tokyo Tower from Sky Deck

Again though, I’m happy with this shot, probably another that I had a hard time converting to black and white, but I like the way increasing the red and orange channels enabled me to make Tokyo Tower stand out as it does here. We can also see the red tail lights of the cars streaming along the highways that weave through the city too. Plus, the shorter exposure enabled me to tilt the camera down a little more, shooting between people going down here, and this enabled me to get the curve of the highway in, which I think adds a nice touch, kind of forming a circle around Tokyo tower. I love driving through the city at this time of night, and have driven around the tower on that road many times, so it was nice to get a shot from this perspective, thanks to Google.

Tokyo Plussers (Look in the Reflection)

Tokyo Plussers (Look in the Reflection)

Although it would have been nice to stay out on the Sky Deck for about another 15 minutes, we were being called in, and were already late for the party that had been planned, so we made our way back down. As I approached the last meeting point, I noticed a whole bunch of plussers’ reflections in some glass roofing over the open area where we’d meet, so I got this last shot for the day (right), looking up at the Mori Tower. To deal with the low light here, this was shot at ISO 6400 at f/2.8 for 1/25 of a second. If you are wondering why it’s all sharp at f/2.8, note that I shot this with my 16-35mm lens at 17mm, and at 17mm, the hyperfocal distance at f/2.8 is 3.4 meters, or 11ft, with the near focus starting at 1.7m or 5.6ft, so I was safe to go this wide. If that last sentence confused the hell out of you, stay tuned for an exciting announcement shortly. I have something for you that will help with that.

The party was a lot of fun, with great conversation with Camilo and also Brian Kemper, another Tokyo based photographer who is just a laugh a minute. The bear flowed, somewhat hindered by the shear numbers of our group, but a great evening was had by all. A great day in fact.

Any of you that follow me on Google Plus will know that it’s where I spend most of my social media time now. That’s not a lot of time, but of the time I spend in Social media, these days I’m probably on G+ 95% of the time, with a further 3% on Twitter, then 2% on Facebook. The thing that I enjoy about Google Plus is that it has shaped up into a real community. A photography centric community in many respects, so I really enjoy spending time there, when I have time to go online and share, or look at others’ work or what they’re posting about.

The other thing of course is that it enables us to bring that online community into the real world, as we did for this photo walk. It’s only the third I’ve been on, and it was a year since my last, but it’s great to be able to jump on a train, and go and meet some of the people that we interact with online, and I’m sure it’s like this in every city around the world. If you haven’t gotten involved in Google Plus yet, jump right in, and have some fun, and maybe also consider joining the MBP Community while you’re there. Our conversation is getting more lively by the week too, so I’ll put a link into the show notes, and it would be great to see you there.

My New eBook – Sharp Shooter!

Before we finish, I have some really exciting news to share with you, and that is that my second eBook from Craft and Vision, Sharp Shooter: Proven Techniques for Sharper Photographs, was released last week, and is now available from the Craft & Vision Web site! We start by covering what makes an image sharp in the first place, then I cover some hand-holding techniques, stabilization for long lenses and focus stacking among other things, and we also go into sharpening in post when it didn’t quite work out, and also sharpening for final output. I wrote a blog post to introduce you give you some more details, which you can find at https://mbp.ac/sharp if you are interested.

sharpshooter_spreads_cover-NEW

Remember these books are incredible value at only $5 a pop, but for those of you that pick up and listen to this episode quickly enough, if you use the promotional code SHARP4 when you check out, you’ll only pay $4 or use the code SHARP20 to get 20% off when you buy 5+ products from the Craft & Vision Library. These codes expire at 11:59 PM (PST) July 4, 2013, so just a few days from now. If you miss that, it’s still only $5 and if you sign up for the my newsletters with the buttons on my blog, you’ll receive an email when I release any future books, so you won’t miss the sale in future.

I’m really happy to get my second book in the Craft & Vision library, and I really hope you enjoy it if you decide to pick up a copy.


Show Notes

Martin’s 21 Images on Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/102227359845636175866/albums/5895503804877505873

Google Plus Event Photo Gallery: https://plus.google.com/u/0/events/gallery/cav22j3eo2rtheqmjqf756jfigc

MBP G+ Community: https://mbp.ac/community

My New eBook — Sharp Shooter: https://mbp.ac/cvss

Music by UniqueTracks


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Namibia 2013 Travelogue Part 4 (Podcast 375)

Namibia 2013 Travelogue Part 4 (Podcast 375)

Continuing our travelogue style account of my recent trip to Namibia, I’ve selected the next ten favorites to take a look at today, and I’ll include a little background and my thought process while shooting. We pick up the trail on the morning of May 17, at the Himba village, that we started to look at photos from last week.

To give you an idea of where the Himba village is, let’s start by taking another look at the map that I included in part one of this series.

Namibia Trip Map

Namibia Trip Map

We started our journey in Winhoek, where you can see the number 35 in the middle of Namibia, and worked our way southward over the first couple of days, and then as we traced our route through part two and three, we’ve gradually worked our way up the country.

The flamingos were where it says 148 about half way up the country on the coast, and then we continued north, with the shipwreck shot where it says 96, and that was also where we shot the seals, that we didn’t look at. Where you can see the number 20, was an old abandoned oil rig, which I got a couple of nice long exposure shots of, and then the 1625 and 861 was were we started to shoot lots of wildlife that we were looking at last week. Otgendunda, is the name of the Himba village that we visited, and this is the furthest north that we went, and you can see it here where it says 228 on this map.

We looked at one shot of some of the Himba children before we finished last week, and I want to look at a couple more shots today too, but I’d like to start today by giving you just a little bit of information on the incredible culture of these proud people.

Festus, our guide, gave us a talk on the Himba people over dinner the night before we visited, to prepare us. I had thought the Himba people were nomadic, but they are only semi-nomadic, sometimes spending time away from their homestead to find good grazing ground for their goats and cattle.

The homestead is surrounded by a fence made of tree branches and sticks, and inside is a circular corral. This corral we were told is where the ancestors remains are buried, but also where the livestock are kept. In the Himba belief system, the livestock are closely links to their ancestors in the corral. There is also a circle of stones about 10 meters from the front of the corral with an ancestral fire that is kept burning by the fire-keeper. We were told that under no circumstances should we walk between the fire and the corral entrance. When we asked what the punishment for doing this is, we were told, “just don’t walk across that line”.

Young Himba Man

Young Himba Man

The Himba women wear their hair in two plaits and the men wear one plait, as we can just about see in this first photo of a young Himba man. We had many of the subjects sit in the door of their huts, as the light was way too harsh outside for flattering or artistic photos. I shot this with the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, with an aperture of f/3.5 for 1/60 of a second, at ISO 400. I used a wide aperture because I wanted the focus clearly on the face but the rest of the man’s body is slightly soft.

I also reduced the blacks slider in Lightroom to -40 for this shot, because I wanted to plug up the dark background a little more. Here we can only really see the center pillar of the hut, but without this modification, there is just a little more clutter inside that didn’t really help the shot.

That was after we’d had them move a few water containers etc. as well. They were incredibly accommodating, and even broke into a smile for us every so often. I found the best photos were when they weren’t smiling though. Although they have beautiful smiles, there initial pose is always with a very serious, almost sullen look, so most of the photos I chose were with this look.

I was kind of surprised to see the Himba wearing plastic beads, but after our few hours of photography, when they broke out their craft market, we’d see that they use all sorts of modern material in their crafts, as well as traditional material. I guess for me this just reinforced how well these people are holding on to their rich culture.

They are surrounded by and exposed to western culture and materials all the time, but they choose to maintain their own values and way of life, which I applaud. On a very different scale, this is actually one of the things I like so much about Japan. They have taken on many western ideas and values, and yet you still see lots of tradition everywhere, on a daily basis, and this makes life a richer, fuller experience in my opinion.

Uapahongua - Young Himba Woman

Uapahongua – Young Himba Woman

This next photo of Uapahongua, a young Himba woman, was shot in the same doorway as the young man we just looked at. I think they were brother and sister, but I’m not sure. Another interesting factoid from Festus is that the Himba are not monogamous. The men will often marry up multiple wives. The guy that was helping with our visit and spoke really good English introduced us to his three wives.

What I though was even more interesting, is that, in Festus’ words, “affairs are tolerated”, so families can include brothers and sisters from multiple mothers, and although this usually centers around one father, because affairs are tolerated, there is no saying that he is actually the father of all the siblings.

We also heard were that most marriage partners are decided by the Uncle of the children. There are virtually no marriages where the couple choose each other. It’s always the uncle that decides.

Again, I shot this photo with the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens at f/5.6 at ISO 800, for a 1/60 of a second. I chose a deeper depth of field for this photo so that we can see better detail in all the decoration that the woman wear, honestly. Apparently the shell that the women wear means that they are eligible for or actually married.

The orange color on their skin is because they grind ochre stones and mix the powder with a type of butter fat, and smear that on their skin. This is both to protect the skin from the harsh sun, and for cosmetic reasons. From the decorations to the extensions in their hair, which as you can see here is also covered in ochre clay, the Himba women are very particular about how they look. After every photo Uapahongua here would ask to see the back of the camera, and then nod with approval if she liked what she saw.

We also heard that the Himba never bathe, which is pretty incredible when you consider the heat in which they live. The women actually sit in smoke huts, and smoke themselves as a way to keep clean. When we set off from their homestead, we actually two women with a child each about 10 kilometers down the road, to a place where they would travel in another direction to a hospital, as the children were sick. It was quite a surreal experience to be sitting in a safari vehicle with two Himba women and children on board, but I have to say, despite them not bathing, they actually smelled pretty good. The mixture of the butter fat and the smoky smell gave them an earthy aroma that was in no way displeasing.

We had lunch under a tree at the side of an almost dried up river on this day, and then spent the afternoon tracking lions that we would not find. The following morning, as we left the lodge and pulled onto the large gravel road running through the area, something large darted across the road in the car lights, and Festus our trusty guide, immediately recognized it as a cheetah. When Festus saw something like this he was incredibly gutsy with his off-roading. Within seconds we were being tossed around as we navigated the basalt boulders strewn evenly across all terrain in this area that had not been cleared as a road.

It was still dark, but the car lights provided enough light for us to be able to make out a mother cheetah and her three almost full grown cubs. I started with my ISO set at 25600, and was able to get a few shots. If that was all I got, I’d have missed the opportunity, because it was still way too dark, even with the ISO cranked up that high. The image was being recorded on the left side of the histogram, which meant it was grainy as hell. Even at 25600 though, as the light got up, the grain became much less of a problem, and the images would have been usable, again, if that is all that I got.

By the time I shot this image though, the light had increased to the point where I could drop my ISO down a stop to 12800, and I was now exposing to the right, so the amount of grain recorded was very manageable. Apart from adding +40 on the Clarity slider in Lightroom, this shot is straight out of the camera. We see one of the cubs sitting in front of a euphorbia bush, looking quite relaxed. This was shot with the 300mm f/2.8 lens with a 2X Extender fitted, giving me 600mm.

Relaxed Cheetah

Relaxed Cheetah

The aperture was set to f/6.3, so stopped down just a third from wide open, and the shutter speed was 1/125 of a second. We had raised the roof panel of the safari vehicle and were resting on the roof for stabilization. I had a bean bag with me, but no-one actually filled them. The vehicles were fine to just rest the lenses on our hands, and we weren’t doing enough wildlife work to make this tiring or uncomfortable.

This next shot was just a few minutes later. I called it “Stalking Cheetah” but that’s really just artistic license. The only thing this cheetah was stalking was it’s brother or sister. The sun was coming up, and I’d changed my settings to f/5.6 for 1/160 of a second, which is basically the same exposure value, but a little hazy cloud had covered the sun, so I increased the exposure of this by 0.1 in Lighroom. Because I was still over the right on the histogram though, this shot is still very acceptable on the grain front, and I like the pose, so I was happy to be able to include it in my selection.

Stalking Cheetah

Stalking Cheetah

We watched the cubs playing, and although I got more shots, these were probably my favorites. I will probably end up picking something else out later though, as I revisit my images in another six months or so, to see what I missed.

Mukaandora - Himba Girl

Mukaandora – Himba Girl

We were out tracking lions and elephants again, and the cheetahs were a lucky bonus. Once they’d headed off down the valley, we pulled back out onto the main road, and literally within a few more minutes, a leopard darted across the road in front of us, but this time he was too illusive. We saw where he went, but we weren’t able to find him again.

As we started heading back to the lodge for breakfast, we saw a small hut on a hill, with some Himba women sitting outside, so we decided to go and see if we could photograph them. Festus negotiated with them so that we could do so. Whether you agree with this or not, the thing to do apparently is to just pay them. The village we visited the previous day were paid a small amount, and given food provisions for their time. This group got fifty Namibian dollars, which is about $5 US. We photographed them all, for about 40 minutes, and after a while I set up this shot of a young girl named Mukaandora, looking out across her land.

I like this because it shows the decorative hair extensions, and the pelt that the the Himba women wear, almost like a skirt, but just at the back. Mukaandora did not have a shell on her chest, as she was too young to be eligible for marriage. They told us she was only 10 years old, but we reckon they’d lost count somewhere along the way.

An interesting experience here was that as we were leaving, one of the women started to complain about something. I asked Festus what the problem was, and he told me that she had not been part of the original negotiation, and wanted paying for having her photo taken. I hadn’t even taken her photo, but asked how much would be appropriate, and Festus told me $20 Namibian would be plenty, so I gave her a $20 note. This is like $2 US, so not a big deal for me, but the look on her face changed instantly. She snapped the note out between her two hands, clapped with it on her palm a few times, then started clapping at having received the money. I don’t think as tourists we should spoil the locals with large sums of money, and this is why we agreed at the start of the trip that all of these kind of negotiations would go through the guides, Festus and Jeremiah. They don’t want to spoil their people any more than we do, so I was happy with the amount, and if I can make someone that happy with $2, I’m happy too.

Later this day, we drove about 50k south, to our next lodge, on the rim of the Etendeka Plateau looking out across the Klip River Valley. In the afternoon we went out for a game drive around the basalt rock strewn plateau, but the main reason we were here was to track black rhino the following day.

After descending the steep road from the lodge down into the valley, we were immediately faced with three magnificent elephants. The foreground foliage actually made it difficult to get a nice shot, but here’s one that I quite like, of a large bull. This is the only elephant shot that I didn’t feel compelled to convert into sepia, because I quite like the sandy tones  here, and the greens don’t get in the way too much.

African Elephant

African Elephant

This was shot with the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens with the 2X Extender, wide open at f/5.6 for 1/500 of a second at ISO 400. While shooting this, there was actually another elephant much closer to our right, but the foliage was really spoiling the shot.

As we stopped for lunch in the shade of a large tree again, three boys sped past on their Damara Ferrari. This was the tour leader Jeremy Woodhouse’s term for the carts that we saw quite often here, that were made of old car axels, and pulled usually by donkeys. Damara was the name of the area that we were in. Earlier in the trip they’d been Kalahari Ferraris.

After lunch, we caught them up, and asked them to wait as we set up a little further down the road to photograph them from the front as they rode past. This is one of my resulting photographs. We also shot some of them speeding down a hill a little further along, but one of our local guides decided that it would be dangerous for them to do that alone, and jumped on the cart with them to help them steer, which kind of spoiled the shot. It was a better action shot, but I think I prefer this one, with the boy in the center smiling broadly as they head towards us.

Three Boys on Damara Ferrari

Three Boys on Their Damara Ferrari

For this I stopped down to f/8 to get a deeper depth of field, and selected a shutter speed of 1/125 of a second, at ISO 125. The boys aren’t quite in the depth of field here, as I focused on the donkeys, but they’re sharp enough to make this photo work I think. I’d prefer them to be a little soft than get too much of the background in focus, so I’m happy with the decision to go with f/8 for this shot.

We’d spend the entire day, literally around 10 hours of driving on the incredibly bumpy basalt tracks, and although it was enjoyable, we almost didn’t see any black rhino at all, but then, way past the time were were supposed to be back at the lodge, the guides from the lodge climbed a hill, and located two black rhino down-wind of us. The rhino apparently have terrible eyesight, but a very good sense of smell, and because we were down-wind, once they’d smelled us, they ran out of the valley where they were, further down into the valley, and we were able to get a few quick shots as they passed us on the other side of the valley wall.

Two Black Rhino

Two Black Rhino

I did opt for a sepia toned image here again, as the color was getting in the way, but this is more of a trophy shot that something I’m really happy with. Again shot with the 70-200 with the 2X Extender, at f/8 for 1/250 of a second at ISO 400. I actually wished I’d gone to ISO 800 for a faster shutter speed because these guys were moving pretty fast, but the movement was adequately frozen, so I got away with it. I also of course wished I’d taken my 300mm lens, but we’d been told to bring just one lens, as there wouldn’t be room for more, though that turned out not to be true. I could have placed a second lens on the seat next to me, so I was kicking myself for not just bringing it, but there’s no use crying over spilt milk as they say.

After the rhino, we started to head out of the reserve, but we were still a good way from camp. Almost an hour and a half later, still driving out of the reserve, we came across the same heard of elephants we’d seen on our way in, and they were still eating very close to where we’d seen them in the morning. I’d love to finish with this shot today, but to keep the images in chronological order, here’s one of my favorite shots of an elephant’s ass.

Elephant's Ass

Elephant’s Ass

The light was dropping, so I increased the ISO to 1600 for this, at f/5.6 for 1/200 of a second. I converted to this sepia tone in Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro, and added just a touch of additional structure on the elephant to accentuate the wrinkles in the skin, which I think is a wonderful feature of these magnificent animals. It might not be that obvious to shoot a butt shot like this, but I think they’re really effective, and I actually prefer this to this next shot, of an elephant from the side.

Elephant's Curly Trunk

Elephant’s Curly Trunk

I like this because of the shape of the trunk as the elephant fed, and I’d included a bit more of the environment here. I ended up not choosing an even wide shot that I took of these, with some sky in as well, as I’ve switch around again to prefer these more intimate images, but I do like to have the surrounding in like this. Here by the way, I’d increased the ISO again to 2000, still at f/5.6 for 1/200 of a second.

The day after this, we would have another long drive to a place called Okonjima, where we’d shoot cheetah and leopard for the last few days of the tour. this is where you can see the number 995 on the map, just above the capital of Windhoek, where it says 35, right there in the middle of Namibia. I’ve selected 10 more photos from those last few days though, so we’ll conclude this travelogue series with one last episode, number five, next week. Remember that if you would like to see all of the images that I selected from this trip, you can see them on my Portfolios page here https://martinbaileyphotography.com/portfolio/namibia/.


Show Notes

Martin’s 100 Impressions of Namibia: https://martinbaileyphotography.com/portfolio/namibia/

Music used with kind permission from the staff of the Kulala Desert Lodge.


Audio

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