JHP Newsletter - 2016, No. 3, 27 August
Greetings from Upington, South Africa!
I've recently completed a trip to Tanzania where I visited three new parks, and before that I was in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado for the wildflowers.
Travel: Colorado Wildflowers
Jan and I were in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado for about one and half weeks at the end of July to photograph the wildflowers. We got there just in time for the peak bloom and it was one of the better wildflower seasons. I find larkspur difficult to photograph because the flower cluster is highly three-dimensional, but this Barbey's Larkspur (Delphinium barbeyi) had a great background that I couldn't pass up (below left). Monkshood is similar to larkspur, and once again I found this Western Monkshood (Aconitum columbianum) with a great background (below center). Conditions were also good to make an iconic image of Blue Columbine (Aquilegia coerulea) in a nice Alpine basin (below right).
0.7 sec, f4.5, ISO 100
1/125 sec, f4, ISO 100
1/60 sec, f16, ISO 100
Parry's Primrose (Primula parryi) is difficult to photograph because they start to bloom a little earlier than the other flowers and don't last very long before they start to decay. I found this cluster while it was still close to prime (below left). American Pika (Ochotona princeps) are fun to photograph, and we found a group that was extremely tolerant. This one posed nicely with a great background (below right).
While looking for flowers one morning, I spotted a White-Crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) that kept returning to a favorite perch. I set up to photograph it, and it returned with a beak full of food (below left). Least Chipmunk (Tamias minimus, Neotamias minimus, or Eutamias minimus) were plentiful at one location, and one was particularly accommodating. Here it's standing and reaching to pull down a seed head (below right).
1/350 sec, f8, ISO 1000
1/1500 sec, f8, ISO 640
Travel: Tanzania (Selous, Mikumi, and Ruaha)
I had a great time in early August when I visited three parks in Tanzania for the first time: Selous Game Reserve, Mikumi National Park, and Ruaha National Park. It was quite exciting to go somewhere I haven't been before, and also challenging to act as a guide for two repeat clients who were along for the adventure. It was a great learning experience and we also captured some great images.
We started off with six nights in Selous Game Reserve, one of the largest game reserves in the world. It covers 21,100 sq mi (54,600 sq km), which is larger than New Hampshire and Vermont combined. Most of the reserve is set aside for hunting, and that could be why most of the large grazing animals were quite skittish in the photographic zone that we visited. However, the birds were quite cooperative, so we spent a lot of time photographing them. Our first afternoon in the reserve started off with a bang — a White-Fronted Bee-Eater (Merops bullockoides) with a bee (below left). Later during our stay, we spent some time with this African Open-Billed Stork (Anastomus lamelligerus) with a snail (below right).
1/750 sec, f5.6, ISO 400
1/125 sec, f5.6, ISO 1600
A new species for me was the Angolan Black-and-White Colobus Monkey (Colobus angolensis, below left). We were able to spend time, on three separate days, with a small pride of lions (Panthera leo) that had two cubs. In the image below right, one of the cubs has a muddy chin from drinking.
1/1500 sec, f5.6, ISO 250
1/750 sec, f5.6, ISO 640
Then we spent one night in Mikumi National Park, mainly as a layover between the other parks. We had a very productive morning at a waterhole that had high sides around most of it where we could photograph birds from near eye level from the comfort of our vehicle such as this Common Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides, below left). As we were busy with the birds, a herd of African Elephants (Loxodonta africana) approached, so we got into position to photograph them drinking (below right).
1/1000 sec, f5.6, ISO 1600
1/1000 sec, f4, ISO 400
After the elephants left, a herd of Common Zebra (Equus burchelli) came to drink too (below left). Before we left, an Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiacus) came in for a landing (below right). I told you it was a very productive morning!
1/1000 sec, f5.6, ISO 400
1/1000 sec, f5.6, ISO 400
Then we went to Ruaha National Park for six nights, and it was my favorite park by far. The landscape was interesting with a mix of lightly wooded rolling hills and mostly open flat grassland. On our first full day, we had two male lions try to take down a cape buffalo (one had jumped on its back but couldn't take it down) and a little further along the road we had a pair of lions (Panthera leo) mating (below left). Later in our visit, we had a small pride of lions take down a yellow baboon. The grazing mammals were much more relaxed than in Selous, so it was a lot easier to photograph them. The birds were also cooperative, so we spent a lot of time with them as well.
1/500 sec, f5.6, ISO 400
1/500 sec, f5.6, ISO 1600
I was really looking forward to photographing at the hippo pool where we could get out of the vehicle and shoot from near water level. However, I was shocked that there wasn't much of a hippo pool because almost the whole Ruaha River was good for hippos. When we arrived, there were only half a dozen Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) in the area, but most were out of the water including this mother and baby (above right) which was great for photography.
While waiting for some lions to do something interesting, this male Red-Headed Rock Agama (Agama agama) posed nicely for us (below left). There were lots of baobab trees in the park, but it was difficult to photograph them because most were surrounded by lots of brush or the sky was clear when we found a good subject. One day, at almost high noon, conditions came together for me to make this black-and-white image of one (below right).
1/1000 sec, f5.6, ISO 800
1/350 sec, f8, ISO 100
We had a few Leopard (Panthera pardus) encounters. Only one was shootable, but boy was it shootable. We had her to ourselves for about 40 minutes as she searched for prey on the ground in nice morning light! She paused at one point atop a small boulder to get a better look over the tall grass, and it was a great setting for photography (below left)! The Yellow Baboon was another new species for me, and I was able to photograph the youngest baboon infant I've ever seen — less than a week old (below center)! We stopped to photograph a couple of Common Zebra (Equus burchelli) one morning, and this one became bored being our subject and started yawning (below right).
1/500 sec, f5.6, ISO 640
1/180 sec, f8, ISO 2000
1/1500 sec, f5.6, ISO 250
I'll tell you about South Africa next time.
Take care and happy shooting.
James Hager Photography :: www.jameshagerphoto.com