Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Need for High-End Compact Cameras...

In this blog I have added a few images from my favourite places to photograph wildlife. South Africa, Kenya, Northern Canada, Southern France and Alaska.
As a wildlife photographer I do a fair amount of traveling to different areas of the world. I travel with high-end DSLR’s and big zoom and prime lenses. Add in a subject and I am astounded by their ability to create sharp images of animals moving at a distance in low light. 
What has been bothering me the past few years is not all of the images that I am taking, rather, all of the wonderful images I am missing. As fantastic as DSLR’s and big lenses are, they are cumbersome and attract attention. The majority of my time traveling is spent with this equipment packed away in discreet cases that look like suitcases. I do this so I don’t draw any attention to those who may be interested in relieving me of my gear and or any money I have on me at the time. Once I get to my destination in the bush or the jungle away from people the gear comes out and the magic begins.


Each time I travel, I normally have a point and shoot camera or I use my Iphone to photograph or record interesting images along the way. The problem is there is a huge quality gap between what my DSLR produces in images and what my Iphone or point and shoot camera produces. When I heard about Lightco's #Vantagepoint I got excited about their approach. A compact camera the size of my point and shoot that creates images that are of similar quality of my DSLR's. A high-quality camera that records videos in 4K and has 16 lenses firing simultaneously to acquire those high-end images. In-camera editing that I can edit on the plane looks great too!

With a camera like an L-16 Light camera I will be able to stop over at the Eiffel Tower while in Paris in the evening to take low-light images of the Eiffel tower lit up without carrying around expensive looking bulky camera gear. Walking around Paris at night with expensive DSLR’s then getting on the subway just screams “mug me”. While in India and visiting the Taj Mahal, a camera like the L16 Light camera again gives me the quality of my DSLR’s without attracting the attention of any poor locals who will drape themselves over me in hopes that I will pay them to be my guide or carry my gear etc. A high-end camera that fits in my pocket will allow me the freedom to get all the images before and after the safari that I am looking for. This while keeping a low profile and without adding significant weight to my carry-on bag. This camera could fill the gap that I am looking for. I can't wait to try it out.









Below are images from when a small group of us were invited into our guide’s home in India. His daughter cooked a very special meal for us with a propane heater on the floor of their kitchen/bedroom. (Kitchen during the day and bedroom at night). 

Below that are images of us being invited into a hut in a Masai village. The inside of the hut is quite dark. It has a small fire pit in the middle for those cold nights with two sleeping areas. One for the kids and one for the mother. The walls of the hut are made of mud and cow manure And below that are my favourite images from when a group of Masai dancers stopped by in the evening and entertained us at my favourite camp in Kenya. 



Each of those images required a discreet camera that worked well in low light without flash. As you can see, the only place I have recorded those images are in my memory because I didn’t have a discreet camera that would record DSLR quality images in low light. I am hoping that Lightco’s L-16 fill this void.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Kenya- Our First Week; Entim

Safari Schedule:
Days are pretty full while on safari. We get up at 5:45a.m., leave for safari at 6:15a.m., we're back at 11:30a.m. I download and back up my images, have lunch, quickly organize the images, then I hopefully get in a half hour snooze and we are out on safari again from 3:30p.m. to 6:30p.m. Once back at camp I download and back up images, shower, dinner at 7:30. Back at the tent, I diarize the days events, then am asleep by 9:30p.m. 

Internet access is often spotty, so I haven't been blogging regularly while on safari these past few trips. I do want to be able to look back to use the blog as a reference, so I'm back home now and will finish it up where the internet is reliable and I have a little more time.

Entim Day Two, drives four and five:
We drove for about an hour west and found a pride of lions sleeping. There were 3 lionesses, a big male and four, six month-old cubs. There were a lot safari jeeps in the area. Thankfully those people got bored as the lions were sleeping in the tall grass. They left and we had breakfast, then the lions got up and started moving and we got some great images of them as they walked down the road toward us.


Game Drive Five:
We found a serval cat. This was my first serval cat sighting in the wild. She was beautiful, but unfortunately I didn’t get any good images of her. It was sad. She walked around in the tall grass calling her babies. It isn’t looking good for her. We watched her for a couple hours. She would wander around and find a small treat here and there, then go back to that same area and cry again.
 
Our first serval cat sighting
















Day Three, drives six and seven:
We found a lioness with 5, two month old cubs. Good news bad news. Good news? 5 cubs at a scenic setting down by the river. Bad news? Super dark. Not good enough for acceptable photos.

Game Drive Seven:
It was dark and raining really hard as we attempted to photograph the mom and three lion cubs. I thought two had died as there were only three left. Looking more closely at my images that evening, I discovered that mom was babysitting two cubs that were slightly older than hers. We never did catch up with either lioness or their cubs again.


Day Four, Drives eight and nine:
It was a very uneventful morning. I think it rained most of the night and the roads were like driving in grease. We were looking for the lioness and her cubs and got stuck and had to be towed out. I took one picture of a huge crocodile on that game drive and then we got stuck again. Between the 5' long grass and the wet, I think the predators were just laying low.

Game Drive Nine:
Another uneventful drive.

Day Five, Game drives ten and eleven:
We found Sierra and her cub. Sierra was in a tree when we pulled up. The light wasn’t great, but we spent virtually the entire game drive with them so that was fun.


Game Drive Eleven:
We went out to see the cheetahs again. We couldn’t find Sierra and her baby so we went on to find Maliaka and her two cubs sleeping in the bush. They were boring and we heard over the radio that they found Sierra so we drove out to see them. They were lying high on a grassy, abandoned termite mound. We spent the rest of the afternoon with them and got some great images. 

When it is really hot we drink a lot of water. When we drink a lot, we tend to have to "check the tire" a little more often than usual. On the way home from the cheetah sighting it was already really dark. Another vehicle from Entim got a flat, so the guys had to change the tire in the mud, in the dark. They did really well considering the circumstances. Our vehicle may get stuck, but we never once got a flat. We took credit for that. We were good "tire monitors'".

Day Six, Game drives twelve and thirteen:
Another tough morning. We couldn’t find much in the way of game and in the five foot long grass, the predators could have been four feet away from the road and we would  have driven right by not even knowing. It is amazing that we found anything in some places.

Game Drive Thirteen:
This game drive was a tough one. We started out by looking for the lioness and the three cubs that were right near our camp. We couldn’t find them so we went to the cheetahs. We couldn’t find Sierra, but caught up with Maliaka and her two boys snoozing in the grass. They never did get up, so we drove back to camp. On the way back it was getting pretty dark, but we found a hyena den with two babies. Too cute.

Day Seven, Game drives fourteen and fifteen. Transfer to Little Governors' Camp and afternoon drive at Little Governors' Camp.

I thought this game drive would be mostly just a transfer to Little Governors Camp. We started out by seeing a few elephants. The baby elephant decided he was going to challenge our land rover to a fight. It was pretty entertaining. 
After that we saw Sierra and her cub in their tree again. We followed them for about an hour, then went on our way. We then saw about 15 hyenas. From there we went out of the park and through a town where we met a once orphaned eland. She is now quite friendly and came up to our landrover looking for food. I offered nuts, but she wouldn’t accept them. I did scratch her behind the ears which she she seemed to tolerate. 

From there we photographed a baby zebra. After that we came upon lipstick, the four cubs and three lionesses. They had just taken down a topi. By the time we got there there was nothing left but a few bits of meat on a rib cage which the jackals were quite enjoying. We almost got to Little Governors’ camp and found a hyena den with several babies, then troops of hundreds of baboons and herds totalling about 50 elephants (that we could see on the way to camp). Ironically, the transfer to Little Governors' camp was one of our best game drives of the entire week!

Images at Harvey Wildlife Photography.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

First full day at Entim Camp...


We had a pretty successful morning drive. It started with a jackal lying on the side of the road all cuddled up trying to keep warm, then we saw a dozen or so hyenas in a few different groups. Hyenas have a face that only a mother could love, but one layed down on the side of the road so two of her babies could nurse. 
A Face Only A Mother Could Love

Ugly or not, it was still sweet. We spent a lot of the morning looking for a lioness and her three six- week old cubs, but couldn’t find them. We gave up then caught up with a cheetah mom and her two thirteen month-old cubs and spent a couple hours with them. It started with them jumping on a jeep. 
 

It is a big “no-no” allowing cheetahs on your vehicle. Guides can get in trouble if they get caught allowing this. Our sighting ended with a failed impala hunt. From there we caught up with another cheetah mom and her super cute 6 month old cub. They had just killed an impala. The six-month old was dragging the carcas around showing off how tough he is I guess. J The grass around them was really long so the picture opportunities were pretty scarce. And then they started eating. Their faces get all covered in blood which makes them less than photogenic, so we headed back to camp for lunch.
After lunch our game drive wasn’t very fruitful until Gaye saw a leopard in a tree. It was a great sighting... for about 5 minutes until a vehicle pulled up too close and scared her down into the bush. We found her in the bush a few minutes later and took a few shots of her only to realize that she wasn’t the same leopard that we saw in the tree. This was one of her cubs. It turns out that she had two cubs and over the next two days a lot of people drove over to see them. We have been busy with lions, but hopefully we will be able to find them again at some point.
My images aren't up yet,  but will be at my website Harvey Wildlife Photography 

On our next game drive we caught up with a pride of lions and some crazy cute lion cubs. I haven't edited them yet, but I think on that drive I got my first good images of the trip to date, so I was really happy about that drive. I will edit one and add it to the next blog posting.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Travelling to Africa...

Africa Travel day(s)
Edmonton to Montreal- Smooth. We’re early so we register our gear at customs. There are no line ups and we get on our flight. 4 hours later we are in Montreal.
Montreal to CDG, Paris- Another smooth connection with a 90-minute connection time.
CDG Paris to Istanbul- Oh CDG; What a crazy place. When we were here in 2008 it took us 3 hours to get from one connection to the next. This time we walked for 30 minutes or so. From there we had to go through security and here they examine all of my gear lens-by-lens, camera-by-camera. We catch a shuttle bus to terminal one only to walk and walk and walk and end up at security again where again, we empty my gear out of three camera bags so they can inspect every piece. This is the only airport in the world that I have been in that is that thorough. Oh well, perhaps that is good for safety reasons. It is just stressful as I have to hold everyone up while my bags get torn apart and I hope that every piece of camera gear finds its way back in my bag.
At Istanbul we have a 6 hour lay over so I posted my Iceland/France blog and wait…Our next flight and we are finally in Nairobi. Istanbul to Nairobi. We leave at 12:50a.m. and arrive at 8:40a.m. Kind of makes for a long day.

Since Aeroplan changed our flights around our travel was a little more challenging. As I type this, I am lyng in something called a bed. I haven’t been in one of these in over 50 hours! We got in this morning, had a little time to do some souvenir shopping before we caught  our flight to the Mara. In all honesty Gaye had time to do some souvenir shopping. I don’t know if it was the first malarone pill (malaria pill). Or lack of sleep or a little of both. I was feeling really uncomfortable so I rested in the car while Gaye shopped. Gaye had a successful shopping spree, was happy and bought me lunch after her shopping spree. Dry bread and soup were a welcome addition.
The airstrip we landed at in the Mara.

Our Flight to the Mara...
Most people while flying over the Masai Mara National Park look down at the herds of giraffe and elephants and are in awe of the spectacle from above. Me? I look up at the ceiling thinking please don’t throw up, please don’t throw up. Then oops. Better luck next time chump! So much for the dry bread and soup making me feel better. Fortunately for me, Gaye and I were the only ones on the flight and I know where the sick bags are. I'm weak and shaky, but we go on our first game drive and do okay. I certainly wasn't going to travel 50 hours and miss any drives. That's for sure. In fact I even got a pretty decent image or two on that first game drive. I'll post more later.