xelas

Namibia 2017: Two Cats on a hot Tin Roof

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Little Bushman Paradise is site with rock paintings. They are much better visible with bare eye, yet some animals are clearly identifiable also on photos.

 

Entry to the site

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Rhino and cheetah

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Lioness

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Hunting party

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Explores and their guide

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We have ended our stay at this fantastic site with a quick birding.

 

African Hawk Eagle

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Black-chested Prinia juv

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Red-faced Mousebirds

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Rock Kestrel

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Pale-winged Starling

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A beetle

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Spitzkoope is indeed such a special place. If one is a rock climber, or a serious hiker, this is the place to go. But even for others, like us, it offers so much: beautiful views, easy hikes, birding, and even mammals if one is lucky. While campsites are basic at best, the community has also chalets, and a restaurant, and for those looking for better creature comfort, there is Spitzkoope Lodge. We have stayed only 1 night but next visit it will be for sure longer!

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I must stop reading and specially looking at the excellent photos. My heart yearns to return to have a dip at that really refreshing rock pool in the middle of barren rocks. 

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Amazing place...it reminds me somewhat of the US South-West national parks...same kind of rock formations and colors. With zebras and more birds :)

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A beautiful place in many respects, @xelas ! Good birding too, with an impressive Hawk Eagle shot and the Mousebirds in flight. Zvezda has definitely grabbed the opportunities!

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@xelas The first image of message #125 made me say "Wow!" out loud. The photographer and the post-processor can take a bow.

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8 hours ago, JohnR said:

@xelas The first image of message #125 made me say "Wow!" out loud. The photographer and the post-processor can take a bow.

 

Thank You,  @JohnR ! All the kudos goes to the photographer; post-processing is basic at best.

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@xelas

 

The work done by Zvezda is more than excellent.  For me, and it's not really a critic, just a personal opinion, some pictures are too sharp for their posting size.  I think  that they do not need this "over sharpness"  to be better.  Anyway, great work!

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26 minutes ago, Bush dog said:

@xelas

 

The work done by Zvezda is more than excellent.  For me, and it's not really a critic, just a personal opinion, some pictures are too sharp for their posting size.  I think  that they do not need this "over sharpness"  to be better.  Anyway, great work!

 

@Bush dog the constructive critique is what I appreciate! Myself I have some "problems" with evaluating the perceived "sharpness" (which in fact is an increase contrast) when I am looking at end results on iMac and then on iPad or on my office PC on a Dell computer. While some of photos do paper too "sharp" on iMac they loose a lot of that effect on PC.

To help me out improving on my workflow, and post-processing skills, please be so kind and send me a list of those photos that are over-sharpened. If I would have to chose by myself, those most likely candidates, in last post above, would be the beetle and the prinia (mostly on branch). Thank you so much for your help!

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Day 8 & 9: The Wonders of Ameib Ranch

 

 

Ameib Ranch is one of those places that really captured our hearts on our first visit in 2014. Ranch itself is huge, and most of it out of the reach for regular visitors, and that is for good reasons. But the rest of the place has so much to offer. What we liked above all is the feasibility of walking on your own. There are several walking trails in the vicinity of the lodge, some shorter and others longer and some of them only for accomplished hikers and rock climbers. And everywhere one goes, there will be gorgeous landscapes awaiting. While wildlife is not as prolific as one would hope for, birds are always around, and if lucky enough, a mammal or two can be encountered.

 

For accommodation, ranch has a smaller in size but well equipped campsite, with a small and clean pool, and there are two self-catering cabins within the campsite (which is enclosed with a fence. Then there are ranch rooms (where we have stayed) and separate bungalows, all within walking distance to the main building, the boma. 

 

Breakfast and dinners can be ordered, and dinner is a buffet style. We have had one late lunch prepared by ourselves, in the campsite, and two dinners in the lodge. The first one was very good, while the second one was just good. Beware that, as explained often before, I am not a gourmet type of eater. It is difficult for judging the quality of the food simply based on my words.

 

Entry gate to the ranch

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Ameib ranch is hosting the Ameib Rhino Sanctuary which is part of the Erongo Mountain Rhino Sanctuary Trust. They are very serious about their job. Even after staying there for three nights, and having multiple discussions with the property manager, he was still very undisclosed about anything related to rhinos. And that is a highly positive approach, IMO.

 

The ranch is vast, almost to the point the eye cannot reach the end of the property. Two photos that might give you the impression of how large the property is (both taken from the relative vicinity of the lodge):

 

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Main building, also in this place, its The Boma: the place where guests will have their breakfasts and dinners and will congregate to share daily stories. The bar was mostly operated by the manager itself. Outside of bona, a couple of chairs where you can have your pre-breakfast coffee with birds on the feeders, or your sundowner. We only got there for early morning coffee.

 

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Rooms are in the good old farmhouse fashion: large, rather basic, and bathrooms are always the cutest parts. No A/C but none needed in May. If you are spooked by small animals in the room, well, better skip the rooms. We have had all kinds of visitors: while geckoes are normal, and so also spiders, a small frog was a nice surprise, and so was also a juvenile rock agama. They all are harmless so we have made no fuss around them.

 

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Wonder #1 is Elephant's Head. It shows a different face morning and afternoon, from left, right, from bellow valley or from up the ridge. The views from that location are equally spectacular.

 

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Wonder #2 is Bull's Party. A place where human is measured against the nature, and becomes humble again.

 

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Sunsets here are specially spectacular.

 

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3 hours ago, xelas said:

 

@Bush dog 

To help me out improving on my workflow, and post-processing skills, please be so kind and send me a list of those photos that are over-sharpened. If I would have to chose by myself, those most likely candidates, in last post above, would be the beetle and the prinia (mostly on branch). Thank you so much for your help!

 

I agree on the beetle and the prynia that are indeed, in my opinion, over sharpened.  Obviously, you manage to realize it yourself.  Nevertheless, without going back to the genesis of your thread, here are some other examples : the last pictures of # 106, 124 and 125 and the weaver’s nest on #107.

 

But sometimes, if the picture is initially sharp, over sharpening does not harm or does a disservice a picture. On the contrary, it improves it.  For example, I think that most of the flamingoes, that are gorgeous, at #76 & 77 are theoretically over sharpened, and over saturated also, but in this case, the over processing gives a lot of consistency and density to the photos.  It darkens the white, which occupies an important part of the images, and sets the feathers and details of the heads off.

 

Generally speaking, over sharpening should be applied moderately when a photos is full of small details, already sharp on the initial shots, such as grains of sand, small stones, tree branches, cats’ furs, birds’ plumage.....because it makes them too bright and therefore detracts from the quality of the photo by making it a bit blinding.  For example, the kissing seals and, to a lesser extent, the scratching one (that is just as gorgeous) are close to being over sharpened.

 

Here, I hope to have been modestly of some use.

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@Bush dog you have nailed them well! Indeed all those photos, looking at them now with more scrutiny, do suffer the same ill effect of being over-sharpened. It happened in my last step, which I usually do both options, then decide which way to go. I was too impatient this time around. A big Thank You for steering me back into the right way. Zvezda's photos deserves the best of me!

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Some absolutely gorgeous landscape photography again by Zvezda, @xelas! As you so rightly state, such majestic vastness is humbling to us, mere humans. That effect is accentuated by the people in the pictures, dwarfed by the rocks and boulders. A good eye!

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Wonder #3 is Paradise Valley. There is quite a walk to this enchanted place, a source of crystal clear water among the granite rocks. About 60 minutes, walking slowly and stopping a lot to take photos of everything that moves along the trail. Following the trail is easy as someone has done the great job by putting the stones on both sides. About 2/3 of the walk there is an Y; left you go to an elevated viewpoint, and right towards the hills and paradise Valley. We did this walk twice, both time mid morning when the sun was already up and shining. Take plenty of water, and a wide brim hat is an obligatory item to wear.

 

Stone-lined path

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Hot in the Summer

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LBJ #1

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LBJ #2

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LBJ #3 (Marico Flycatcher??)

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LBJ #4

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Reader, please help me identifying those LBJ's above ! Thank You!!

 

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Crossing one shallow dry riverbed and there it is, the Paradise Valley ! A group of baboons were waiting for us on both visits. Teenagers were curious while youngsters kept themselves close to adults.

 

Below the rocky mountains is where the Paradise Valley lies

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Curious ...

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... but not for long

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Company of adults is most reassuring

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Water is the source of life; while year 2017 was good to Earth, Wildlife and Humans with abundance of rain, natural spring sources like this one are vital when drought is ravaging around.

 

Inspecting the valley

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The Source Of Life

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Paradise Valley deserves exotic birds, and just sitting below huge trees gave us opportunity to see some very colourful birds. Those are also much easier to identify :D.

 

Long-billed Crombec

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White-tailed Shrike

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Swallow-tailed Bee-eater

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Rupee's Parrot

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Where there are granite rocks, there are also Rock Agamas.

 

Female Namib Rock Agama

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Male Namib Rock Agama

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Lovely spot! Next time...

 

I think your first LBJ is a Cape sparrow female.

 

Unfortunately, I also think your white-tailed Shrike is actually a Batis (probably Chinspot)?

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Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, Peter Connan said:

Lovely spot! Next time...

 

I think your first LBJ is a Cape sparrow female.

 

Unfortunately, I also think your white-tailed Shrike is actually a Batis (probably Chinspot)?

 

Peter, thanks for LBJ's ID.

 

Regarding Shrike, I will defend my choice by pointing out:

A.. colour of eye - shrike has orange eyes while batis have yellow eyes (this is one lesson @Galana is repeating me over and over :D)

B. grey underpants - batis have uniform white while shrike has distinctive grey

C. colour of bottom of the tail - shrike is white (hence the name) and batis is black; also shape and length of tails are different between

You see, if I have enough to work with, I can even pass by as a mediocre birder :D; but when there are only colour brown, and shapes of beaks, and worst, sounds that tells species apart, I am lost in space.

 

Anyway, birding is for fun, yes?! So we took photos and enjoy the nature and later, we have many friends to help us with ID :).

 

Edited by xelas
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Posted (edited)

@xelas

Great photos again.

I am with you on the White-tailed Shrike, both because of the points you mention and also the white forehead. I do agree LBJ#1 may well be a female Cape Sparrow. #2 looks like a bunting, perhaps Cape Bunting? #3, yes looks like a Marico Flycatcher. #4, tricky, could it be a Sabota Lark? (The Rupee Parrot sounds like a good deal, but you may have wanted to type Rüppel's ;))

 

Edited by PeterHG
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1 hour ago, PeterHG said:

(The Rupee Parrot sounds like a good deal, but you may have wanted to type Rüppel's ;))

 

Thanks for additional ID's @PeterHG . And thank you for catching my (or was it bloody auto-correct) mistake. Maybe an omen that India (or Sri Lanka again) should be listed on our to-go list :lol:.

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Thanks @xelas

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43 minutes ago, Peter Connan said:

Thanks @xelas

 

With pleasure, Peter! You are still much better birder than I will ever become.  And I think I have also seen Chinspot Batis in that area; next post if I will find it.

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@xelas

 

Beautiful set of Flamingo pictures.  Loving all the red rocks and big scenery.  

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