Botswana & Victoria Falls Instructional Photography Tour – Sep 2014

Join me as your tour leader to an amazing photography workshop in Botswana and the Victoria Falls! This exclusive African safari will take you from the Okavango Delta, to the Chobe National Park and to the mighty Victoria Falls. In September 2014, accompany me and a small group to the trip that made me fall in love with wildlife photography.
Botswana Victoria Falls photography tour

Are you ready to spend your days between game drives, photo critiques, Photoshop tutorials, drinks around the fire and great company? We will be exploring the African savannah aboard customized vehicles that are almost fully open, with side mounts to lay our heavy lenses on. Everything is thought to maximize the photography experience, starting with only one person per row in the vehicles.

African Safari Customized Vehicles

The photograph below is an iconic capture of life in the African savannah.

springboks walking towards a lion

Two Springboks walking towards danger. This photograph was created in Botswana – Africa.

ISO 250 | f/7.1 | 1/500 | Av Mode with no manual exposure compensation | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 300mm f/4 L IS USM lens (Canon 300mm f/4 L IS USM review), the Canon EOS 5D mark II supported on a bean bag. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

Those two Springboks are walking towards a male lion wandering about the African savannah. Big cat preys tend to be faster than their predators if they are given sufficient notice. African antelopes often directly face a predator or even start walking towards them to show that the cat has been spotted. It seems like an odd behavior, something you will certainly not see in a zoo!

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Steven

Flightless Cormorant’s courtship

The photograph below is a pair of Flightless Cormorant going through their courtship ritual.

Flightless Cormorant - Fernandina Island, Galapagos

Flightless Cormorants in love.

ISO 1600 | f/5.6 | 1/640 | Manual Mode | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens with a 1.4x III Extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III, handheld.

This pair of Flightless Cormorants is swimming around each other in the cold water current of Fernandina Island, in the Galapagos Islands. What are they doing? Courting each other! 🙂 I was lucky to witness this superb display of chase and pursue in the ocean. Note that Flightless Cormorants are amongst the rarest birds with only 1,500 individuals left. This Cormorant lost the ability to fly and rely on efficient swimming.

Image optimization: As there was not much luminosity and I had to capture the action, I had to rely on a high ISO of 1600 in dark set up. Though the 5D mark III showed great ISO performance as usual, there was still some noticeable noise left. While I had lowered the noise with Photoshop Camera RAW, I decided to apply a second level of noise reduction. After creating a somewhat detailed selection of the pair of birds, I inverted the selection and pressed CTRL+J to copy and paste on a different layer. Then I applied a surface blur filter and voila!!

The photograph below is a pair of Waved Albatross preening each other during their courtship ritual.

Flightless Cormorant at the seaweed nest - Galapagos Islands

Flightless Cormorant portrait at the nest.

ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/2500 | Manual Mode | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens and the Canon EOS 5D mark III, handheld.

This adult Flightless Cormorant is covering its seaweed nest. The male will come with seaweed leaves as presents for the female, while the female use the gifts as building block for a nest about 50 meters away from the water.

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Steven

Waved Albatross Airport in the Galapagos part I

Do you know where is located the International Waved Albatross Airport? The Galapagos Islands!

The photograph below is a Waved Albatross.

Waved Albatross Galapagos

Waved Albatross portrait.

ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/8000 | Manual Mode | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens with a 1.4x III Extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III, handheld.

This Waved Albatross had its head just above the tall grass, making for a fantastic opportunity of headshot in the midst of a green blur. This creation really did not need a shutter speed of 1/8000, but I was taking photographs of flying Albatrosses with a fairly bright sun when my attention was caught by this beautiful bird. The Waved Albatross spends most of its time flying above the seas and comes to the ground only during the mating season. The birds mainly concentrate on Espanola Island, in the Galapagos islands. They stay close to a cliff in order to have easier takeoffs. The resulting scenery is a spectacular airport for Albatrosses!

The photograph below is a Waved Albatross in flight.

Waved Albatross in flight

Waved Albatross in flight.

ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/3200 | Manual Mode | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens with a 1.4x III Extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III, handheld.

Photographing birds in flight from a cliff allows for stunning captures of the bird from above. That kind of setup is not very easy to find and it is definitely worth spending some quality time at those spots. See for yourself the nice view of this Waved Albatross flying above the ocean.

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Steven

The 5D Mark III now autofocuses with the 2X!

The photograph below is a Sally Lightfoot Crab.

Sally lightfoot Crab - Galapagos

Sally Lightfoot Crab posing on a lava rock landing in Santa Cruz – Galapagos.

ISO 1000 | f/6.3 | 1/250 | Manual Mode w/ evaluative metering 0 EV | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens and the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld.

YES! The new firmware update arrived for the Canon 5D Mark III. The main improvement is now the possibility of autofocusing at f/8 instead of f/5.6 only. This means that a lens with a maximum aperture of f/4 can now be combined with the 2X teleconverter and keep the autofocus with the central censor. This feature was previously only available for 1D bodys. Thank you Canon!

Go ahead and download the new 5D Mark III firmware update to benefit from this significant upgrade. Once the .FIR file is downloaded on your computer, save it on your compact flash by using a card reader. Put the card in your camera, go to the wrench symbol menu (4th yellow), then Firmware Ver.

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Steven

Pink display: Roseate Spoonbill vs American Flamingo

The photograph below is a Roseate Spoonbill with breeding colors.

Roseate Spoonbill at Alafia Banks - Florida

Roseate Spoonbill landing at the Alafia Banks rookery – Florida.

ISO 400 | f/7.1 | 1/1600 | Manual Mode w/ evaluative metering 0 EV | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens with a 1.4x III Extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III, mounted on a Jobu Design Gimbal head, over the Manfrotto 190CX carbon fiber tripod.

This Roseate Spoonbill photograph was created while landing on the mudflat. As the bird needs to brake over a short distance, one can admire the pink color of its under wings. Some people might confuse this bird with a Flamingo due to its pink colors, but as you see it is a quite different bird. The pink color comes from a pigment found in its diet. During the breeding season, the Roseate Spoonbill gets almost reddish spots on its upper wings, with a brighter pink and a rusty color on its tail, shoulders and around the eyes. The Roseate Spoonbill can be tricky to photograph as it has a white neck, which tends to easily get highlight burns when shooting. The trick is to dial some negative exposure compensation while in Av mode, or keeping an eye on the histogram while in manual mode. As often, I used a bit of Detail Extractor from Color Efex Pro 4 plug-in of Nik Softwares for the image optimization, and a bit of background cleaning.

The photograph below is an American Flamingo.

Flamingo - Isabela, Galapagos islands

American Flamingo at the Lago De Los Flamingos, in Isabela, in the Galapagos Islands.

ISO 400 | f/6.3 | 1/1250 | Manual Mode w/ evaluative metering 0 EV | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens, the Canon EOS 5D mark III, mounted on a Jobu Design Gimbal head, over the Manfrotto 190CX carbon fiber tripod.

This American Flamingo photograph was created in the late afternoon, in a lake where Flamingos often come visit, in the Galapagos Islands. As for Roseate Spoonbills, the pink color comes from their diet. Notice how the neck and head are of a brighter pink-orange than the upper wings feathers.

Support our blog by following our links for your purchases. It comes at no extra cost to you and it helps keeping this photography blog lively!

Steven

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