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A Photographic Safari and apparently not my last after all...


PCNW
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@@PCNW

 

Patsy, your photos are work of art ... you have again demonstrated to the rest of us what a skilled photographer and a skilled Photoshop master can produce! Works Of Art!

 

Re. long beast, what kind of a support have you used? Was it also delivered by the rental company or was it already found on the lodge game cars?

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@@soleson I'm guessing at this but I can't imagine that the 2 year drought hasn't taken it's toll on the general game. I know that the predators were killing animals left and right that were in a weakened state and animals were simply dying...that was said. So I think there has been a loss of the plains and general game that hasn't been replaced or recovered from that drought.....just my thoughts. I don't think not seeing the general game as we drove around had anything to do with our guide....it just wasn't there. Also thank you for your kind comments.

 

@@xelas I take a plated flat topped bean bag thing called a Lense On that I've attached to a Manfrotto clamp that clamps to the roll bar. It's perfect for my needs. Easy to lift the lens onto and off quickly and because we have a private vehicle and I have that whole seat I can quickly move it from one side to the other and into the middle by loosening and sliding. I know there are stabilization devices that are a little more stable but they take a lot more work getting the camera on and off and moving it around.

 

I photograph children and use a Nikon 200mm which is a big lens too. Staying eye level with this lens is tough on my quads so I use the Lense On attached to a tripod and it works perfectly....easy to quickly move around.

 

Here is a photo of it on my tripod.

 

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On our last drive at Phinda I wanted to have sundowners at a marula tree that I had previously photographed my daughter in as a silhouette and re create that image. But I didn’t remember that it took about an hour of tortuous driving to get there. We made it to the top, set up the sundowner table and waited for the sun to start to set….mission accomplished….same sun, same tree, same silhouette, different cast.

 

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The flight from Phinida to the Sabi Sands involved loading 8 of us on the plane, flying to Nelspruit, unloading our luggage, getting more tickets, a 1 1/2 hour wait then all of the exact same 8 passengers and our same luggage got back on the same plane with the same two pilots and flew to the Ulusaba landing strip in the SS and then the two of us had to fly outside of the SS to Skukuza and road trip in……even though Sabi Sabi has its own strip in the Sabi Sands…..I would think this new flight schedule is going to cost Phinda some business.

Some stragglers:

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Peeking through the trees of the sand forest.

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And on to the Sabi Sands and Sabi Sabi Earth, the most attractive African lodge I’ve ever stayed in. I always dread the moment with I meet my new guide and he turns around with hope in his voice and on his face and asks…..”so, are you a birder?….” and then I have to tell them the truth…nope, not much at all. They physically deflate. But because I’m trying and I’m reading trip reports I do know the name of this bird… it’s called The Undertaker……

 

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Actually I’m joking, I know it’s an eagle…or a buzzard…. or something….

We settled in and on our first drive were already seeing good game. A pride of lions sleeping in the drainage ditch but looking really raggedy, they needed a meal, a comb through their hair and the children needed a bath.

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And the following morning a great leopard sighting.

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Oh, you are willfully ignorant about birds. :)

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Peter Connan

The Undertaker is indeed a beautiful shot, as are all the rest.

 

In fact, that is a Marabou Stork. You asked me once which storks deliver the babies. I think this guy is responsible for delivering the naughty ones...

 

The series of shots you got of elephants drinking are absolutely magnificent. Were these at the pool you mentioned, outside your rooms?

 

That flight seems really stupid. Sometimes it seems to me as if South Africans are losing the ability to think ahead (I include myself here)...

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@@Peter Connan @@pault Actually the marabou is a bird I can name but I probably would have spelled it Mary Boo. And the list of birds that I now know is getting quite impressive but only to me I guess. To practice I call out the name of every bird we see but some birds get a new name like the long legged yellow breasted dewlap lapwing or it's a francolin, that's my go to name when all else fails.

 

The problem with birds as I see it is that they don't fill the frame even with a 600 mm. I do have a good photo of a roller that was cooperative but unfortunately he was sitting on a metal pole.... however when I post him here he won't be on a metal pole any longer.....

 

Yes Peter all of the elephant shots were taken while sitting quietly from the door of our room about 25 feet from them as they drank from our pool. One day a herd of 18 strolled by, moms, babies, daddies, it was 30 min of pure entertainment.

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Yeah, thar part I have seen before ... metal pole or other annoying and distracting elements disappearing magically The end result is so much better after. One day I will learn that trick also .

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Continuing on with the leopard sighting….this is Kelenge, a leopardess that liked posing for us.

 

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Justa’ dreaming about impala.

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She was named by Mike Palmer, our very excellent guide that also uses Nikon equipment and was great photographic help to me….I’m always looking for and willing to listen to suggestions or ideas. Plus he was easy on the eyes and that’s always a plus. I had asked for an experienced guide that knew about vehicle positioning, critical for getting the best of the light and Mike certainly knew that.

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Sydney, our tracker extraordinaire, was such a sweet soul.

 

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You’ll see this elephant and calf again….I did two exposures of our bathroom and view and blended the two. My kids suggested adding some wildlife so this pair got the nod from Photoshop. In fact their suggestions consumed some time, I had a leopard and giraffe, my twin grand daughters and then in one image one child riding an elephant.

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And this next image is a failed attempt that I’ll share anyway. Having worked with a children’s photographer one of the things she does is not only shoot quickly around the subject to composite later for space if needed but also to shoot some backgrounds manually out of focus. I did this here know the background was a distraction but it doesn’t work since the focus is much too different from the leopard….quite frankly a long run for a short slide….

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Patsy

 

I had revisited your Moroccan pictures as that old thread was recently revived here. Your pictures continue to astonish me. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder as the old saying goes, your photography is amongst the finest I have ever had the pleasure to encounter. These latest images have just made my jaw drop.

 

I hope for all our sakes you have several more safaris.

 

Thank you for sharing.

Edited by AKR1
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Atravelynn

Some stunners ya got there! Clever idea to shoot some out of focus background shots that you can place behind your subject in post processing. The ele in the dark with the dust is art!

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Patsy, your photography is not only beautiful but also very creative, bravo!!!!! I'm really impressed.

 

 

@@Peter Connan

 

Are you sure that the Undertaker is a marabou? For me, it's more looking like a woolly-necked stork?

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Peter Connan

Patsy, your photography is not only beautiful but also very creative, bravo!!!!! I'm really impressed.

 

 

@@Peter Connan

 

Are you sure that the Undertaker is a marabou? For me, it's more looking like a woolly-necked stork?

 

Indeed, @@Bush dog, you are correct!

 

My apologies @@PCNW.

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Truly excellent photography @@PCNW, both in creativity and post-processing skils!

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@@AKR1 You always say the kindest things, thank you. I still think about that Morocco trip….a Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride sort of thing for us.

@@Atravelynn He’s a favorite of mine too. The buffalo that looks like I’ve tried to get creative with some kind of over lay but haven’t is another….almost deleted it because so much of the image was obstructed by grass.

@@Bush dog @@PeterHG Thank you, I sit for hours watching tutorials to get one new tidbit of a concept. I sometimes wonder if I ever get to be a really good photographer and my images don’t need a lot of PP work would it be as fun? Creating something from nothing is quite satisfying.

@@Peter Connan Dang…..the one bird I actually thought I knew.

A few more from that long leopard sighting…we were able to follow her from one backdrop to another…”ok, have you got enough of me here? Then let’s go over to this spot for awhile…..is this good?” It was so considerate of her.

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Edited by PCNW
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I had warned Breck that the down side to the Sabi Sands was that it really wasn’t beautiful….more like the scruby, flat landscape of Florida. But we kept seeing so many lovely locations…how could I have not seen these before? “Kopjies?….these weren’t here before….when did they put those in?…they almost look real…..” became our theme whenever we pulled up to another beautiful location…..“nice addition.”

 

The evening drive brought us a boat full of trees filled with buzzards leading us to believe that there had to be a kill nearby but after and hour searching we gave up and settled for a G and T and the beautiful sunset.

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I know, I know….call on me!….Lilac breasted roller!

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@@PCNW...your photos are absolutely stunning. Thank you for sharing with us!

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@@marg Thanks for commenting...it makes the effort worth while.

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@@PCNW I am very interested in your editing techniques. Would you consider posting a 'Master Class' showing before and after and the process you took to achieve the results? I would suggest one of the fantastic leopard or the elephant. Pen

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Pen I'd be glad to. Do you use Lightroom and/or Photoshop?

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@@PCNW I have Lightroom 5 but am considering upgrading. Thanks very much it will be fascinating to see your process. Pen

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Pen I'd be glad to. Do you use Lightroom and/or Photoshop?

 

Add me the list that would be extremely interested to read this too!

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Pen I'd be glad to. Do you use Lightroom and/or Photoshop?

 

Me too! I have Photoshop 4 and 6 (4 is more familiar to me so I usually use that one).

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@@penolva and @ImSA84 have shown an interest in some of my editing techniques and asked if I could do a “Master Class” which is humbling since there are so many great photographers on this forum. I’ve selected the cheetah image since it took a fair amount of time and has a lot of the techniques they might be interested in.

I was using my 600mm when this cheetah jumped into this pose and I didn’t have time to switch to my D4/70-200 combo. I knew I couldn’t get the whole scene so I quickly took two images and I always shoot around the subjects for possible compositing later.

I used these three images to composite in Photoshop. If you don’t know how there are tons of You Tube tutorials on building a composite but it’s fairly easy…..lay one photo on the other, add a mask and erase what you want to show blending carefully.

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I combined these two to get this then added the background which I shot using the same focal length.

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Once I’ve built the composite I’ll take it back into LR to do the basics. And I know it could all be done in PS but I’m just used to LR for some things. The rest of the cheetah edit would be similar to my edit of the leopard below.

The original:

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The basic LR edit: I straightened the image…mine are frequently crooked. I usually flatten all images by decreasing the highlights and opening/lifting the shadows in the Basic Panel. Lifting the shadows is probably the single most suggestion I would make for some images here on ST. Some cameras are able to do this better than others.

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I’ll add more selective contrast back later in PS.

I adjusted the white balance and warmed the image by adding a little yellow/magenta and also clarity and vibrance. I would also take care of noise reduction but this image didn’t need it.

I typically play with the hue/saturation/luminance sliders. I like the luminance slider for darkening or lightening blue sky or trees. But in this image I increased the blue primary saturation under Camera Calibration to darken/saturate the sky a little.

Then I brushed the entire leopard carefully and again opened the shadows more, more exposure, added clarity and contrast.

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Then into PS. I felt she needed more space to look into so I added canvas and stretched the left side of the image. It distorts the image so you can’t include the leopard and obviously you have to be careful judging how much blurring/distortion is acceptable.

Using the Color Balance I’ll warm the image by adding yellow and red to the highlights. I had read that you should do the opposite colors to the shadows but I can’t seem to make that concept work. I’ll frequently add red to the shadows.

I used the liquify tool to put a little bend to her paw and tail…I had read a modeling tip that said there should be a little bend in all joints….so she got some…..not sure why… Sometimes I lift the eyelids (people and animals) just a little to make them look more alert. I don’t think she needed here.

Then using the clone tool and/or spot healing tool I’ll clean up distracting branches or twigs, trash, glaring highlights, etc….things that look messy or catch my eye.

Then I’ll do a lot of work using the dodge and burn tool. Selectively dodging the highlights and burning the shadows which adds contrast. I always lighten the pupil and make sure to accentuate the catch light in the eyes.

I leave my paint brush on Soft Light and a low opacity and here used a burnt orange/reddish color to paint over the bark of the tree. In the cheetah image I colored the dirt slightly and put an apple green on some of the grass. I frequently accentuate colors that are already there. Dried grass usually gets a more golden hue.

I’ll use Unsharp Mask to sharpen and go back to LR.

Typically I go to the Tone Curve and up the lights and dec. the darks just a little for more contrast. A lot of times I use the graduated filter to bring more light into one side of the image and use it to darken the other side making the light a little less even overall. Sometimes I’ll add haze to the light side by using the Dehaze slider sliding it left.

And that’s about it.

The one thing I also do is come back to the image the next day because I have trouble with white balance and that’s when I’ll see things better/differently. But I’m always tweaking when I should remember…..“leave well enough alone….the evil of good is better…if it ain’t broke don’t fix it……”

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Hope this helps.

Patsy

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Peter Connan

Wow thank you @@PCNW. Much appreciated, although i only understood about half of that...

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