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Mashatu Madness/Tuli-tastic: our first trip to Botswana, August-Sept 2014


Tdgraves

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graceland

@@Tdgraves...I do not bring a USB cable, but a little adaptor that plugs into the IPad and you plug your memory card into that. It's great as you can upload your photos daily and get rid of the ones that are not perfect.

@@marg, I just found one of those stuffed in a box...I am going to take it with me to the Mara; I think it'd be fun to go through immediately instead of waiting as usual to get home! Of course I don't take as many as most here..but perhaps if as lucky in the Mara as MAC and Michael, my days will be photo filled!

 

Thanks for reminding me to put it aside. Now I need to find my camera instructions :rolleyes:

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Afternoon drive, 31/8/14   The new guests had all arrived. A group from Australia, including a man in a wheelchair with their pilot/guide and a group of 12 South African friends who come to Mashatu

Morning 2/9/14 - Mashatu Elephant Hide   One of the novel things about Mashatu is its' elephant hide. A man-made structure dug into the ground so that you are looking and shooting practically at th

Morning drive: part two   Had to separate the posts as I was worried that I'd lose what I had done and there are rather a lot more photos to come.   A mother cheetah and cubs, less than 24 hours a

Tdgraves

I delete a lot of images on the camera, before downloading. How many do you really end up looking over again? Or using in books, presentations and trip reports on Safaritalk? If often take 10-20 images of a single event (say two wild dogs playing), then quickly go through them and delete anything not sharp, and then anything 'double', and only keep the ones with the best compositions, ending up with 2-3 images. Similarly, I find a leopard in a tree and take a bunch of pictures, then move the vehicle to and have a much better viewpoint and take some new images and delete all the ones from the initial view point. This saves a lot of space.

Fantastic report and photos!

 

@@egilio I try not to delete on camera as the screen is so small, unless something is obviously wrong. We end up deleting a couple of hundred in the first pass for technical reasons (usually focusing). The remainder then gets whittled down into a favourites folder, which is usually about 1500 shots. The photo books have 120 pages, so depending on the number per page, about 200 photos make it into the book. I am aware that I have a trigger finger. I don't know how I would have survived in the days of film....

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@@Tdgraves Such warm and rich colors on your lion photos...but those cheetah cubs are unbeatable!

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egilio

@@Tdgraves I started in the days of film, and am so happy with digital! The small screen on the camera is not ideal to review photos, but I've been teaching myself to just keep the best. I realize though that I was really lucky with the many opportunities I got through my work.

But I actually really started doing it when I was told by a guide about how Marsel van Oosten (www.squiver.com), a photographer I admire, especially because he has developed a very recognizable style, works. Contrary to several other professional nature photographers this guide worked with, Marsel van Oosten, took very few photos. Every photo was meticously planned. Move the car half a meter forward, half a meter to the left, frame the subject, meter the light and wait for the right moment, and then he took 1 picture and the whole process started over again. That made me think more about what I want to photograph, and how I want the photo to turn out.

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love the images... especially the elephants and the cheetah cubs.

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Tdgraves

@@Tdgraves I started in the days of film, and am so happy with digital! The small screen on the camera is not ideal to review photos, but I've been teaching myself to just keep the best. I realize though that I was really lucky with the many opportunities I got through my work.

But I actually really started doing it when I was told by a guide about how Marsel van Oosten (www.squiver.com), a photographer I admire, especially because he has developed a very recognizable style, works. Contrary to several other professional nature photographers this guide worked with, Marsel van Oosten, took very few photos. Every photo was meticously planned. Move the car half a meter forward, half a meter to the left, frame the subject, meter the light and wait for the right moment, and then he took 1 picture and the whole process started over again. That made me think more about what I want to photograph, and how I want the photo to turn out.

 

My husband is a bit like that, although he takes more than one shot. I guess it is easier when you are surrounded by opportunities on a daily basis :)

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Tdgraves

Morning 2/9/14 - Mashatu Elephant Hide

 

One of the novel things about Mashatu is its' elephant hide. A man-made structure dug into the ground so that you are looking and shooting practically at the level of the water. I wasn't really sure about doing this, as we have never really done anything like it before and I am reluctant to miss a game drive, but the more I looked on their website, the more I thought it would be a change. Also our agent strongly suggested it. The fact that the winning BBC WPOTY shots was taken there, was icing on the cake! It is run by a third party company, so is additional to the per night costs as you are paying for a professional photographer to join you in the hide. There are a maximum of four guests at any time and they recommend AM viewing. We thought we'd do this day, is it was the OH's birthday.

 

The photographer helped everyone get set up and suggested what birds may arrive in which order and he was pretty much spot on. He gave tips on how to catch the queleas drinking and other general photographic advice. I've never had any lessons or exposure like this before and I wasn't sure what to expect, but I think he gauged it very well, interacting with those who responded and leaving the others to it. We saw several birds that we had not seen before and got some good close-ups of old favourites. I was surprised at how small the waterhole is when we arrived. the website photos were all taken on a wide-angled lens, so I was expecting it to be bigger.

 

Some birds (new ones first):

 

 

Natal francolins

 

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Green pigeons

 

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Jameson's firefinch

 

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Meyer's parrot

 

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Cape turtle dove

 

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Laughing doves

 

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Meve's starlings

 

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Grey lourie

 

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Red-billed buffalo weavers

 

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Helmeted guinea fowl

 

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Red-billed quelea

 

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Dark-capped bulbuls

 

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Crested barbet

 

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Saddle-billed stork

 

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And this little guy appeared just outside of the window hatches!

 

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Unfortunately the eponymous creatures were reluctant to show up. Everyone was packed up and halfway out of the hide when this guy showed up. We had to hastily get our equipment back out again....

 

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A great experience and I would definitely do it again. Back to camp for breakfast. Apparently the drive we missed was quiet :D

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graceland

Awesomeness with the birds. Beauties.

 

As we walked with Craig Van Zyl in Zimbabwe we sat on the ground with elephants much like above.

 

It is an entirely sobering and absorbing way to spend time with the majestic creatures. I left them feeling I had left friends.

 

Mashatu truly was golden for youall!

 

I need photo lessons. (sigh)

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The elephant was worth the wait, based on your results. But that is some impressive birding regardless. I especially like the guinea fowl. You don't always see them (or other birds) photographed from that angle/level...it puts them in a new perspective.

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Tdgraves

The elephant was worth the wait, based on your results. But that is some impressive birding regardless. I especially like the guinea fowl. You don't always see them (or other birds) photographed from that angle/level...it puts them in a new perspective.

Just a shame all of camera stuff had been put away. My memory card got full while he was there and I had to scrabble around in the bag for a new one. Of course prior to this, I had a blank one on the shelf ready :(

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Haha, of course Murphy's Law would dictate that it would happen that way. Just think, maybe you would have seen the whole herd if you had forgotten your camera altogether! :P

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Tdgraves

Probably, as well as dancing leopards, vaulting polar bears and talking honey badgers.

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Tdgraves

Evening drive, 2/9/14

 

As our South African vehicle-mates were only here for 3 nights, they left after breakfast and we had another private drive. :D When they had taken them back to the border post, the guide had seen some fresh drag marks, so we went in a different direction today, towards main camp and the gate to investigate. We followed the drag marks for a very long distance into a clump of trees and bushes on the river line. However, we could find no evidence of a kill or a spotty cat :(

 

We bumped into a vehicle from main camp who told us of a leopard on a cliff.

 

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They raised their head a few times, but wanted to be asleep.

 

We had a lovely close encounter with a family of elephants

 

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Richard had a radio message that the mother cheetah had made a kill, but given the distance we had to cover and the quota system, the sun was pretty much down by the time we got there - time to rack up the ISO....

 

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Most of the cubs were more interested in playing though...

 

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Not a bad drive

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Atravelynn

And more little cheetah cubs!

 

I felt like I had my morning bird bath along with those birds. You were right at water level for birds and eles. Whatever the memory card issues, you ended up very well.

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Tdgraves

And more little cheetah cubs!

 

I felt like I had my morning bird bath along with those birds. You were right at water level for birds and eles. Whatever the memory card issues, you ended up very well.

Cheetah cubs are definitely good value. It was very peaceful just sitting and waiting for the birds, rather than bumping up and down in the back of a land cruiser. It was an excellent 4 days and that was what lead to the memory card issues, but in the end it was all ok. And now we have bought more....

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Those Cheetah cubs are real scene stealers...god they're cute! Excellent job capturing such dynamic and endearing photos.

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Tdgraves

Those Cheetah cubs are real scene stealers...god they're cute! Excellent job capturing such dynamic and endearing photos.

Thanks. Given that the sun had gone and I had to rack up the ISO, I was pleased. It was a bit frustrating to be en route to a good sighting and watching the light go. We had to wait for a vehicle to move off, as they only allow 3 per sighting. It is amazing how slowly time passes when you can see the light fading. The only time on safari when I have been stressed...

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Soukous

 

 

I now that feeling only too well. The quota system for sightings is almost always preferable to the free for all you can get in Masai Mara and Serengeti, but god it can be excruciatingly frustrating if you are stuck behind vehicles that are unwilling to move on.

Edited by Soukous
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Tdgraves

I now that feeling only too well. The quota system for sightings is almost always preferable to the free for all you can get in Masai Mara and Serengeti, but god it can be excruciatingly frustrating if you are stuck behind vehicles that are unwilling to move on.

 

In general I am in favour of quotas as it has less impact on the game and gives more photographic opportunities. The vehicle wasn't being too slow in moving off (it probably felt longer than it actually was) it was more the time it took us to get there. In general I felt that the sightings were well managed (on radio headsets, so no chatter). It happened in timbavati as well, but I got the impression that was more a problem with vehicles not moving on, as of course they are all from different lodges, whereas these were all from Mashatu and therefore are all on the same "team"

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graceland

I don't know how I missed those adorable cubs; well , I did - however, even without the light they are so enjoyable. This adventure of yours was truly chockful. Botswana really does deliver.

 

And your photography skills show through!

 

We have been fortunate not to stay too many places where there is a queue. I'd not want to leave some of your sightings :D

Edited by graceland
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Tdgraves

I don't know how I missed those adorable cubs; well , I did - however, even without the light they are so enjoyable. This adventure of yours was truly chockful. Botswana really does deliver.

 

And your photography skills show through!

 

We have been fortunate not to stay too many places where there is a queue. I'd not want to leave some of your sightings :D

Thanks @@graceland

 

Most of the places we have been have a quota system (sometimes you are unaware of it). Mostly this is private concessions, but they also do it in SLNP and LZNP. As we were the last to arrive, we never had to move on, we just had to wait....

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Tdgraves

Morning drive 3/9/14 our last :(

 

There were new guests in camp, so we knew that we would no longer be alone. This is when we suffered our @@Wild Dogger moment http://safaritalk.net/topic/13622-kwando-nov-2014-a-mixed-safari-experience/page-3?hl=kwando. A good five minutes before our departure time, the three new people had vanished from the coffee area, so Richard gathered us up to go to the vehicle. When we got there, we found all three people seated and ready to go! The single guy was in the front next to Richard, which was fine, as he was alone. The front row was occupied by two British men who did not say "hello" or turn to look at us, let alone ask if it was OK that they sat there. GRRRR. Why is it always your fellow countrymen who behave like this?? Richard and I shared a look and we set off. I got the impression that they had asked to see lion, as we spent a long time driving around and tracking. Once I realised this and that their behaviour hadn't changed, I was willing Richard NOT to find them!!

 

Our first sighting was of some eland in lovely light

 

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The British men weren't very interested in general game and were a bit bemused that we wanted to photograph birds

 

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Richard eventually gave up on the lions and went to find the cheetah. First we found a mother and adolescent daughter who looked to be hungry, always moving

 

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We followed them for a while, but they were on a mission, so we left them to it and went to find the cubs. I don't think that the others in the vehicle were impressed by this sighting. Unfortunately, as it was already getting hot, the cubs were just relaxing in the shade. However, we did see a black-shouldered kite harassing a tawny eagle, but it was a bit far away.

 

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We stopped for some mongoose as well

 

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And then we really confused our vehicle mates by asking Richard to wait and see if we could catch impala jumping, which we did

 

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Our British colleagues' behaviour did not change during our coffee break. They wandered off for a cigarette, but even when they had finished, they were not interested in conversation :(

 

We didn't see much on the way back to camp, but a family group of elephant were going to drink and RIchard positioned the vehicle perfectly to photograph them

 

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Breakfast is served at 11am and the staff announce when it is ready. However, the British guys decided that they were back in camp, therefore it was time for breakfast. They then proceeded to complain that the toast wasn't ready and that their eggs were taking too long (despite being able to see the chef having issues keeping the gas flame alight in the wind). A***holes. We sat down the other end of the table and only then did they decide that they wanted to speak to us. We did not reciprocate. Aren't we all lucky that this is an uncommon experience in the bush?

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Atravelynn

You caught the young cheetah girl striding nicely. Perfect line of eles!

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Tdgraves

You caught the young cheetah girl striding nicely. Perfect line of eles!

 

All thanks to Richards perfect positioning of the vehicle as they crossed the hill - he knew where they were going!

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Shame about having vehicle-mates unwilling to get along...luckily it appears your photographic opportunities didn't suffer. The leaping impala and eles in a line are excellent.

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