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

Phinda Sabi Sabi Earth Londolozi Sabi Sands South Africa Andbeyond

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#1 PCNW

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 01:53 PM

A photographic safari and apparently not my last after all……

 

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My usual travel partner is my daughter but since she’s about to graduate and enter the workforce with no chunk of time off in the near future I suspected this would be my last hoorah to the continent.  So this trip was with my husband and because he doesn’t have much interest in wildlife or photography to keep him satisfied the lodges needed to have nice accommodations, good food and wine or in his case the bourbon of his choice.  What I thought would fit that tall order was Phinda Vlei, Sabi Sabi Earth and Londolozi Granite, all places I had been to before at various times, over the top for him and offer me some excellent photographic opportunities.  

 

It went like this:

 

GNV to ATL to JNB

JNB one night Intercontinental

Phinda four nights

Sabi Sabi four nights

Londolozi four nights

 
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We had hoped to meet Peter Connan, the ST hostess with the mostest and his wife for dinner in JNB but as luck would have it he was in Namibia trying to tear up his camper trailer that he had so lovely constructed…. see his report on that….and his ongoing Namibia TR.

 

Two months out from our trip we found out that the direct flight to Phinda and then from there to the Sabi Sands as we had done before was now going to take 4-5 legs.  Phinda is now using SAA so we had to fly JNB to Skukuza then to Phinda….a minor inconvenience.

 

I had felt Phinda was one of the best bangs for the buck, great accommodations, food, service, wildlife and also some really beautiful scenery.  This is all still true except for the wildlife viewing…..dismal might be a little strong of a term but not far off.  There were many, many hours that would go by where we would only see an impala or a wart hog or two.  Our tracker and guide only once in four days got off the vehicle to look at tracks and pretty much relied on radio chatter to find sightings.

 
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#2 PCNW

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 02:11 PM

But I will say this poor guide had to listen to four days of talk from my husband about college football and more specifically the South Eastern Conference…..it was only obvious to me that he had no interest in US football and certainly not the SEC but he hid it well and even asked pertinent questions.  

 

We did have a very good cheetah sighting and we were lucky to have unit 6.  That unit has a steady stream of elephants and wildlife that use the pool as a water hole creating lots of opportunity for some close up photography and entertainment right from our door.  Apparently it’s booked a year out at times.

 

For the wildlife purest that don’t believe in or enjoy wildlife photography that has had much editing this TR isn’t for you….move along….nothing to see here…..  I do enjoy photography but the editing is even more fun and as a hobbyist I’m always experimenting.  So for those still hanging on here are a few from our stay at Phinda.

 

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#3 penolva

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 02:41 PM

Elephant trunks!!!! Wow :)

#4 Tdgraves

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 02:45 PM

@PCNW have you upgraded your kit or is it just so long since your last trip that your skills have increased exponentially??? Stunning images!



#5 Bush dog

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 03:01 PM

Excellent pictures, particularly the elephant trunks and the zebras tails!



#6 PCNW

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 03:07 PM

I have a limited variety of photos from this reserve, most are of elephants drinking from our pool or of cheetahs since I didn’t see too much else to share.  The variety and quality picks up at the next two lodges.

 

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Early one morning we picked up two young cheetah sisters in the sand forest, a unique and endangered habitat.  They had recently left their mom, were coming into their first heat and were as nervous as a teenager on her first date.  

 

The reason for their jitteriness became apparent when a large male bounded onto the stage and scattered the girls like a fox in a hen house.

 

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#7 pomkiwi

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 03:09 PM

@PCNW Lovely images - and please share the equipment you used and any post-processing tips!



#8 TonyQ

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 03:41 PM

@PCNW

An excellent start with great photos!



#9 PCNW

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 04:00 PM

@Tdgraves @pomkiwi @TonyQ  Thanks for the kind and encouraging comments.  My gear is the same…

 

Nikon D4 and D800

Nikon 600 mm, 70-200 mm, 80-400 mm, 35 mm 1.8

Lightroom and Photoshop

 

I rented the Nikon 600 mm, not the new version.  I couldn’t decide between taking my 70-200 or just my 80-400….so I took both.  The D800 only has about 4-5 FPS but has 36 MP so I coupled it with the 600.  The 600 was a little long for the Sabi Sands but portrait photography is a personal favorite and I’m addicted to the blurred backgrounds that it gives.  It’s almost like I search for a background and if there’s an animal in the center well, that’s even better.

 

When we moved on to the Sabi Sands I put my 80-400 on my D4 and used it for the rest of our trip.  As much as I love my 70-200 I won’t bring it again because of the versatility of the 80-400 but mainly to lighten that load in my camera bag and on my back.  Renting the 600 does several things…keeps me from buying a lens I need once or twice a year and it’s delivered to me at my hotel in JNB and I left it with my guide at Lodolozi so no need take it as a carry on.  I’m not sure I could even physically do it.

 

When the 600 was tight one of the things I’ve learned to do is shoot around the subject and put them together in a composite later in Photoshop.  A lot of work for most but I enjoy the challenge.  See below:

 

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#10 kittykat23uk

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 04:02 PM

Beautiful shots!
If an experience is amazing enough to be "once in a lifetime," I want to do it every year.
Alex: "Whoa! Hold up there a second, fuzzbucket. You mean like, uh, the live in a mud hut wipe yourself with a leaf type wild?"
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#11 PCNW

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 04:33 PM

An additional gear note is the reason I used my D4 with the 70-200 and the 80-400 is that it has 11 FPS so if I saw fast action and needed more composition space that would work.

 

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One of the my favorite things about Phinda is their breakfast on their deck……a breakfast tray with such a variety of tidbits…so delicious and the vervet monkeys that are so entertaining.  Smoked salmon, fruit, cheeses, croissants, muffins, jellies, etc. all before ordering your hot breakfast of choice.

 

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But the monkeys had apparently been dealt with by a sling shot kept nearby so there were only a hand few bothering us…such a shame…..

 

One of the other entertaining characters was Genet Jackson, a fairly habituated genet.  And although I do know the reasons that we don’t feed wildlife and the problems that doing so causes I couldn’t help myself….and actually there were three Jackson sisters on occasion, sitting politely and quietly in the shadows waiting for a crumb to fall….which would sometimes happen near my table.

 

Continuing on with our cheetah sighting images:

 

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#12 PCNW

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 04:56 PM

Sundowners at the water hole:

 

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We did have a little excitement watching a pride of lions as warthogs came from one direction with neither seeing the other for awhile.  The lions gave chase but it wasn’t organized or coordinated and they failed.

 

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For those that know Quantum we saw her again, a 15 year old lioness with a hormone imbalance that makes her HUGE.  She was pacing the fence line with three males on the other side…kind of sad to watch.  I saw a post on Instagram that said she was still at it a few weeks later.  Age is catching up and from three years ago she’s lost a lot of size and conditioning.

 

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#13 madaboutcheetah

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 05:04 PM

Simply Spectacular!!!!  Speechless!


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#14 offshorebirder

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 06:03 PM

Wow - great stuff @PCNW!     If you had not told me that Rhino image was stitched together, I never would have known.


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#15 Peter Connan

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 06:46 PM

Magnificent!

The photo of the elephant spraying water in the first post is simply astounding!
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#16 Towlersonsafari

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 07:48 PM

Beautiful images @PCNW

Edited by Towlersonsafari, 17 May 2017 - 07:48 PM.

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#17 kilopascal

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 09:04 PM

@PCNW gorgeous photos.  If you need a future travel companion just let me know.... unlike your husband I do not require nice accommodations or good food and won't even mention football.  Good wine would be nice, but even that can be replaced with a tolerable beer.


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#18 janzin

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 11:28 PM

absolutely stunning images! Love the cheetahs, especially the high-key monochromes. Gorgeous!


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#19 AmyT

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 12:35 AM

@PCNW gorgeous photos.  If you need a future travel companion just let me know.... unlike your husband I do not require nice accommodations or good food and won't even mention football.  Good wine would be nice, but even that can be replaced with a tolerable beer.

 

Ditto... as long as you share your magic!  Beautiful images!


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#20 Game Warden

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 01:14 AM

@PCNW Stunning images which I'm sure will inspire others with their photography.

 

Matt


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