The Best of January…

Se’ La Vie’….

So the first month of 2016 has come to pass so here is a recap of my personal favourite images of the month, along with my thoughts on the lens used and some background info on the images.


Seeking Protection…

Canon 5D Mrk 111 Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 Sports ISO 800 @ 300mm, f5.6, 1/400 sec

Creating emotion in my images is always at the fore-front of my mind when shooting, and this scene provided just that. This shot was taken in the early afternoon and as such the light on the little Elephant was quite harsh. I compensated by underexposing the image slightly giving the raw file a nice contrast, essential for creating interesting monochrome imagery. I often stop up to f5.6 or 6.3 when shooting Elephant so to try an get more of the head in focus, As always the Sigma 120-300mm Sport is pin sharp and never disappoints.

The image was converted to black & white using Nik Software Silver Efex and a number of colour filters were used to create a more low key effect along with some dodging and burning to accentuate the little guys face.


The Essence of Zakouma…

Canon 5D Mrk 111 Sigma 150-600mm f5- 6.3 Sports ISO 640 @600mm, f6.3, 1/200 sec

This image was taken on my recent trip to Zakouma National Park in Chad, apart from being one of the last few true wildernesses on the planet it’s also a breathtaking and eye opening new safari destination.

The image was taken at first light on one of Zakouma’s famous floodplains and with the haze present from dust blown in from the Sahara it creates a almost dreamy pink backlighting that I have never seen anywhere else.

I love the depth and drama backlighting gives images and with the amount of birds around I just had to wait until a flock flew by this Saddle Billed Stork to give the image some more interest.

I often play around with over and under exposing backlight images by 2/3 of a stop or so just to achieve the result I’m looking for in this case the haze allowed for over exposure and the result turned out great. It was also shot at 7000k white balance as I find a warmer white balance works very well at first light.

I have utmost confidence in using the Sigma 150-600mm in backlit conditions, I have often been amazed at it’s focusing ability in situations where lenses battle to lock on to focus.

The image again was edited in Lightroom and Photoshop using Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro, Contrast, Detail Enhancement and Polarisation filters were added.

Keep an eye out my full blog on my Zakouma adventure in the next week or so…



Canon 5D Mrk 111 Sigma 150-600mm f5- 6.3 Sports ISO 1000 @600mm, f6.3, 1/320 sec

This shot was taken in the glorious Khwai community concession in the Okavango Delta. We were spoilt with this young male Leopard who has an apparent love of climbing up and into tree trunks. We spent the majority of the a cloudy, overcast morning with him as he treated us to some superb shots.

I enjoyed the leading line of the Camel Thorn trunk leading you into his face as well as the deep background giving a nice out of focus bokeh. The colour of the grass in the background really lifted the image.

This was shot with the 150-600mm Sport at 600mm f6.3 and as you can see the result was pin pin sharp, something that has amazed me to say the least!!

The Raw file was edited in Lightroom and then finished in Photoshop using Nik Software Color Efex Pro using just the Pro Contrast, Polarisation and Brilliance and Warmth Filters along with the usual Dodging and Burning.


Rim Lit Defassa…

Canon 5D Mrk 111 Sigma 150-600mm f5- 6.3 Sports ISO 1250 @600mm, f6.3, 1/1250 sec

It’s pretty much impossible for me to ignore a gorgeous backlit scene, and when you combine that with Waterbuck their furry coats allowing for that so sought after rim light effect, it has me closing the shutter every time.

This shot of these two Defassa Waterbuck was again taken in the captivating Zakouma National Park at sunrise. Here I tried under-exposing the image in an attempt to allow for the full effect of the rim light on the Waterbuck. Again the Sigma 150-600mm didn’t miss a beat and focussed without hassle.

The image was edited in the raw using Lightroom and finished in Photoshop using Nik Software Color Efex Pro.

Nook-MonoSleepy Hollow…

Canon 5D Mrk 111 Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 Sports ISO 1600 @ 300mm, f 2.8, 1/80 sec

Monochrome images are certainly not about converting images that don’t work in colour, quality mono images have to first be quality images. This image was taken in the Greater Kruger on a very overcast day. I love the bokeh created by the light coming through the canopy of branches. Light coming from behind the subject often provides this type of pleasing bokeh.

The image was shot with the Sigma 120-300mm which is without doubt the sharpest lens I have ever had the pleasure of using. Even with a relatively slow shutter speed it gives incredible results.

Again I used Nik Software’s Silver Efex to convert the image and using a number of colour filters brushed in using Photoshop to create the effect.


Bokeh Panorama…

Canon 5D Mrk 111 Sigma 150-600mm f5- 6.3 Sports ISO 1250 @600mm, f6.3, 1/320 sec, 32 frames stitched in PS

I spend a lot of time exploring and investigating other genres of photography in the hope of finding techniques that may transfer to wildlife photography. In this case I believe I found one.

This technique is called the Brenizer Effect or Bokeh Panorama. It require the use of a long, fast lens to create a very OOF background. The principal is to create the effect of a wide angle lens using a longer zoom lens replicating a bokeh created by something like a 50mm f1.4.

In total this images is made up of 32 close up images stitched together using Photoshop. The detail and IQ in this image is incredible and has over 40 000 pixels on the long end.

It’s a fairly tough thing to pull off and i’m looking forward to exploring the possibilities of this technique in future.



Canon 5D Mrk 111 Sigma 150-600mm f5- 6.3 Sports ISO 1600 @558mm, f6.3, 1/320 sec

One of my favourite and more memorable moments was this shot taken in the Kalahari. This image was shot as one of the biggest storm cells I have ever seen descended on the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

I drove around frantically looking for a subject to place in front of these clouds. As the sun was setting the massive clouds slowly turned pink. I sky I wont soon forget. Luckily I found a herd of Oryx on a dune ridge as things started to look amazing.

I shot a lot of shots from this scene and it was a tough one to capture with the correct White Balance and Exposure. In post I added some clarity to the clouds and dodged and burned to get the most out of the Oryx in the foreground.

The 150-600mm variable zoom was an absolute saving grace in this situation as I was able to capture both a wider and tighter POV without having to change lenses in the heat of the moment.

3 thoughts on “The Best of January…”

  1. Keith, it is so nice to see your gorgeous images again. It has been a very long time. What an awesome collection you have here!!

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