African Photography Blog

How to Adopt Good Macro Photography Technique

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How to Adopt Good Macro Photography Technique

Ah… Macro Photography Technique. But why? Macro photography is easy right? Unless you are happy with mediocre results, I beg to differ… It took me quite a number of outings and experiments to master this field of nature photography (if one can ever claim to master it!).

When it comes to macro photography technique, one has to watch out for a few common bad habits. Your subject is usually not in the brightest of light. This is your main concern. By the way, in photography light is supposed to be your main concern. Painting with light remember… To complicate matters further, if your subject is in bright light it is probably the wrong time of day to take the photograph. Great hobby this, right?

Low levels of light on your subject causes a slow shutter speed. This causes camera shake issues. That is why you should never attempt macro photography without a tripod. This is the main thing you should know, and if you want to stop reading now, at least remember this point. Using a tripod is half the problem solved!

Now, to make the tripod issue even more important, but also necessary to think of separately is the issue of depth of field. You need a very small aperture (high number = small aperture) to get enough depth of field in your macro work.

The narrow depth of field often encountered in macro work is sometimes used to give a macro photograph a certain special feel, but this has to be used expertly and very selectively to work. In about ninety percent of cases, it will be better to have sufficient depth of field.

So, to get sufficient depth of field you need to stop down the lens (aperture of 16 or higher). This is bad news considering your subject most probably already has too little quality light on it. You are letting a very small portion of that through to your digital sensor. This underlines the necessity of the tripod, but it might also start your thinking towards getting that Macro Twin Light you have been thinking so much about. That will reduce the need for careful Macro Photography Technique…

The main point to remember is to set your aperture to 16 or more (I often use an aperture in the high twenties) to get sufficient depth of field.

Next please. Composition is more difficult for macro work than for other types of nature photography. Why is this. Your subject might be a flying insect, a flower being moved by the wind, or an insect sitting on a leave at a very funny angle. Add the fact that you need to approach very carefully to not disturb your subject and you have a bit of a tricky situation.

There are no golden rules to help you solve this one. Play around with composition until you get something that works. Decent composition was very difficult for me when I just started photography. Some folks suggest you use the rule of thirds, but it is way more complicated than that. I find that I learn a lot about successful composition by studying the work of professionals. I also enter my photographs for salons and other competitions. You learn a great deal here.

Well, that is it for Macro Photography Technique. My last bit of advice is to get practice, and plenty of it. That is after all the only real way to improve your Macro Photography Technique!

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Underwater Photography Tips

As years go by, the world of photography continues to reinvent itself along with the changes in technology. Its pillars continue to come up with better sets of equipment like cameras and constantly come up with new methods and strategies to produce better photograph.

Along with these changes is the emergence of modern photography method that enables man to reach and rediscover the beauty of uncharted territories like the ocean floor. This is called “underwater photography.”

As the term suggests, underwater photography refers to the kind of photography that is done or taken under water. This is quite a breakthrough in the world of photography because underwater lovers such as divers and scuba divers because they can now take photos under the sea and share it with others with the use of modern equipment that can actually work well down under.

TAKING PHOTOS UNDER THE SEA

Aside from possessing the love and passion for the water and the creatures under, reliable equipment such as an underwater camera is the key factor for successful underwater photography. If you’re a diver who is not so much into underwater photography, you can now purchase disposable underwater cameras just to take photos. But if you would want to pursue a career in underwater photography, you will need much complicated equipment and gadgets.

The first thing you should consider is the camera to be used. In underwater photography, two kinds are usually used: the underwater or waterproof camera and the encased camera that has housing to protect the camera inside. Aside from camera, you should also take time to research and canvass what is the best lens, film, and flash you can use during your shoot.

Aside from the major technicalities and equipment, you should also consider several environmental factors that will greatly affect the quality of your underwater photos such as depth of water and transparency of water, available light, the angle of the sunlight on the top of the water, the backscatter, and the magnifying effect of water.

Here are some additional musts before you dive and click that shutter button:

1. Good or at least average diving skills. In order to be fully prepared for an underwater shoot, the underwater photographer should also possess good diving skills to be comfortable in taking photos.

2. An experienced underwater buddy. This person can serve as your model and can even help you carry your equipment and gear, hold the lights down under, and can even share the momentous experience.

3. Good managing skills—in managing resources, that is. You should learn to manage vital resources such as dive time, body heat, air, battery life, and the like in order to endure the physical strains under water.

4. Reliable camera housing. If you don’t have waterproof

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Photography on Night Safaris in Africa

Taking a photo is not as easy as focusing on the subject and then clicking the camera. It takes more than that. In fact, it takes a lot of intuition and a set of lessons. This is why amateurs in photography need not only experience but also lessons in techniques and of course in the basics.  One of the hardest thing to master is night photography, not only because the subject is hard to find but also because the shadows will make it more difficult for the amateur photographer to take a good shot.

One of the popular adventures in Africa are night safaris within several national parks in Africa. In Uganda, Semuliki Forest is one of the best destinations to enjoy night photography given yhat the park hosts several nocturnal animals that include primates, leopards etc.

Below are some tips that any amateur photographer can use to master night photography.

Safety

The first thing of course that amateur photographers need to remember is to choose the location well. Remember that if you are going to do the shoot, you will have valuable equipment with you. There are places in the country especially in the cities that are very dangerous at night. Safety is paramount. If possible, do your explorations with one or two people as you cannot very well conduct your shoot in daylight or under artificial lights.

Spares

Another reminder is that batteries often run out easily in cold conditions, so it is best to carry an extra or if you have none, try to fully charge your batteries before going out of the house and proceeding with the shoot. You should also bring a good case for your camera as moisture during the night can easily permeate to your camera.

Other equipment

The best camera to use for night work is actually the one with the manual exposure settings, preferably an SLR (single lens reflex). Automatic cameras are not often recommended, as they are not powerful enough to fight the darkness. Another requirement is a sturdy tripod with a rubber leg to minimize slippage. A cable release is also needed as this will enable you to hold the shutter speed open.

Exposures

One important thing that an amateur must remember in conducting night photography is the fact that longer exposures are needed for black and white photos compared to ordinary lighting. Color film, on the other hand, will produce shifts in colors.

Use of flash

With insufficient light from the moon, most photographers will supplement the light with a hand-held flashes, a technique known as “painting with light.” Other more sophisticated ones may also use movie lights and torches as additional lights.

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Photographing the African Landscape – Africa Through the Lens

Africa is by far one of the most diverse landscapes in the world and much of it is still undiscovered by the lens. Many photographers would trade a limb to have access to the African landscape yet a great majority of South African photographers seem intent on travelling around the world to photograph landscapes that have been well covered by other photographers, all the while a treasure chest of images lies right under their noses.

Africa holds a treasure chest of landscape photography opportunities. Commercial Fine Art Photography South Africa.

“Mercury Down II” The sun sets and the mercury indicator starts to drop after a very hot day in Namibia – Copyright Mitchell Krog / Living Canvas Photography. All Rights Reserved.

For the budding and professional landscape photographer there is virtually endless landscape photographic opportunities in Africa and Southern Africa. South African photographer Mitchell Krog is no stranger to the African landscape and spends many months a year exploring, discovering and capturing breathtaking images of the beautiful African landscapes. Mitchell chooses to completely avoid re-capturing images which have been captured a million times or more, “I just don’t see the point in photographing things that have are captured 100 times a day when there is just so much that has NOT even been photographed yet” he says.

Photographing the African Landscape, South African Photographer Mitchell Krog is regularly exploring, discovering and capturing breathtaking images of the African landscape. This image from the mountainous Drakensberg area of South Africa captures a beautiful sunrise over the beautiful landscape of this area of Kwazulu Natal.

“Drakensberg Sunrise” – The sun rises over the beautiful and majestic mountainous region of the Drakensberg of South Africa. Copyright Mitchell Krog / Living Canvas Photography. All Rights Reserved.

The greatest parts of the undiscovered African landscape are only accessible via foot and often many kilometers of walking can be involved simply to capture one image. As Mitchell Krog says, “This is the game unfortunately and quite simply if you’re not willing to go the extra “mile”, excuse the pun, you will not return home with any new or unique images that have not been captured already. The Drakensberg region of South Africa, of which the greatest area lies within the province of Kwazulu Natal, is a good example. Photographers seeking to cover this area really need to go many extra miles to get to unique locations and in the Drakensberg there literally is endless locations on offer. The Drakensberg is so diverse and the landscape is ever changing, the light is so dramatic that you could sit and photograph the same scene every day for 365 days and not one image would be the same, it is for this very reason that I can say the landscape opportunities of the Drakensberg are endless.”

Cape Town and the Western Cape of South Africa offer many landscape photography opportunities. A great majority of the Cape has been well covered by photographers but much like the Drakensberg, the Cape is mountainous and the light is dramatic and there are still many opportunities awaiting the photographer. This panorama of Table mountain and the Cape peninsula taken by South African photographer Mitchell Krog.

“Table Mountain at Dusk” – One of the most photographed mountains in the world, Table Mountain. Copyright Mitchell Krog / Living Canvas Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Similarly the Western Cape region of South Africa is also very mountainous and has some very dramatic landscapes. The Cape weather is rather unpredictable but this coupled with dramatic light seems to make for a good recipe for excellent landscape photography opportunities. The Cape is one of the most photographically covered regions of South Africa but this does ot mean that there is not still many landscape photography opportunities in store for the visiting photographer. No doubt South Africa will see many international photographers visiting our shores as the World Cup Soccer draws closer and it will be interesting to see how fresh eyes portray our beautiful landscapes.
Copyright – Living Canvas Photography / African Photography Blog – Duplication in part or whole is expressly forbidden. All images and photographs are copyright to Mitchell Krog & Living Canvas photography and may not be used without prior permissions. All images are available in limited and regular edition print series on archival quality papers and canvas through the web site www.livingcanvas.co.za – You may syndicate articles from this blog using our RSS feeds but all syndicated articles must link back to the original content on this site. Please see the Copyright page for more information.

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Chasing The Storm – Lightning Photography

Lightning Storms are one of the most incredible forces of nature. The sheer force of a lightning strike is enough to power a city for months on end but man has not yet learned to harness and store this incredible energy source provided free of charge by nature. As Summer approaches in South Africa, the first rains and electrical storms for the season are already brewing and we’ll soon see what kind of storm activity nature has in store for use this season. Acclaimed South African Lightning and Storm Photographer Mitchell Krog shares some of his images, views and experiences with lightning photography.

Danger Written In The Sky

Multiple Lightning Strikes Light Up The Summer Night Sky. If Only Man Could Learn To Harness This Energy. For many years SA photographer Mitchell Krog has watched and studied electrical storms and to this day still stands in utter amazement at this incredible force of nature. In recent years he acquired the equipment and skills to finally capture them on film and he has produced an endless array of breathtaking images. For Mitchell it is not about simply capturing a lightning strike on film but more importantly capturing the entire scene and telling a story through his images. “With any form of photography if you can captivate a viewers attention, draw them into an image, tell them a story and have them study it for more than just a few seconds you have imprinted an ever lasting memory” says Mitchell. Lightning photography can be a very lonely passtime, only those with enough dedication, patience and endurance to be out at strange hours of the night will stand a chance of capturing unique, sometimes once in a lifetime images.

The Big Detour

A passenger aircraft destined for Lanseria airport bypasses a massive storm cell. Missing dinner and spending many lonesome hours outside comes with the job of photographing lightning storms. From Mitchell Krog’s Lightning Photography Portfolio. (Copyright Mitchell Krog – All Rights Reserved)

As with any form of photography, timing is of the essence. If you are unprepared, unwilling or unable to drop whatever you are doing at a moments notice you will miss opportunities. “I cannot tell you how many evenings I have rushed out of the house just minutes before dinner was ready only to return home several hours later, but nature waits for no man and if you are quick to seize the opportunity you will reap the rewards” says Mitchell. Mitchell’s Fire and Ice series, capturing a grassland fire which was started by lightning strikes was one such occasion. He explains – “I was cooking dinner when I heard thunder approaching, I took a quick look outside and saw the sky glowing red from a grass fire, I dropped everything, rushed outside and managed to capture a few frames of this scene before the storm extinguished the fire it had started. This entire window of opportunity lasted a mere 20-30 minutes and was at it’s best stage for around 5-10 minutes.”

Fire and Ice

An early Spring lightning storm starts a grass fire and is capture here with strikes falling around and into the fire. Minutes later the storm extinguishes the fire it started and the moment is gone. From Mitchell Krog’s Fire and Ice Lightning Photography Series.

Safety is an important part of watching and photographing lightning storms. Finding a safe location with a good view is of the essence, you need to be able to see the storm approaching and be able to determine if you are in any way in the path of danger. “If your view is in any way blocked a storm can sneak up right behind you so a 360 degree view is preferable, you also need somewhere safe to escape to. I’ve often been watching a storm in one direction when right behind me another one is brewing, so I always keep a watch all around me. Standing outside with a metal tripod and an electrically charged camera when strikes are falling too close is asking for trouble” says Mitchell. Mitchell insists that climbing on the roof of your house or any metal structure is a big no-no and could quickly cost you your life and he always promotes safe lightning photography. “There is just no image worth losing your life over” he adds.

Killer Storm


Credits to Mitchell Frog (2007)

On the 23rd of November 2007 this mammoth supercell emitting lightning strikes up and out of it’s core was captured by Mitchell Krog. The strikes emanating from the centre of this storm cell were kilometres in length and streaked across the night sky. This same evening several massive storm cells circulated through Gauteng and claimed lives in their path.

Credits to Mitchell Krog  – You can buy his lightning photos here

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Using HDR in Wildlife & Landscape Photography

So you can HDR but can you do it in one shot and without filters? Blending, challenge, exposure, filters, HDR, high dynamic range, highlights, image, Landscape, midtones, ND, neutral density, Photography, shadows, single

High Dynamic Range or HDR in it’s shortened form has opened up many new avenues for photography. HDR is a process of blending multiple exposures together to better reproduce the dynamic range of the scene and for the most part it’s a very useful tool indeed. I myself have done many experiments into HDR using bracketing of frames to produce multiple exposures which I can later blend BUT all that blending does take up a lot of time in post processing.

Just doing one image blend with 7 exposures with some fine tuning and manual blending included you can easily spend 1-2 hours to get the image perfect. In some cases it might be worth it to take a very special moment you captured on film and to spend that time working the image to perfection. While this can and does produce some very special effects within images I still find HDR, no matter how well executed, to lack something truly special, an ambience that only a single shot exposure carries.

One exposure requires finding the perfect moment to capture the image.

While some may argue that we’re now in the digital world and we must all move to new and wonderful ways of processing images I say yes and no to that argument. I will use HDR when I find it necessary and with many shoots I will bracket exposures regardless but my primary goal is always to get it right with one exposure. I find simply bracketing exposures on every shoot with the intention of later blending and “fixing” it in photoshop makes one a rather lazy photographer because you tend to find a recipe, set up, compose, bracket and go home to fix. Guilty as charged.

While this approach may be perfectly okay for some I enjoy photography because it challenges my mind. I myself got into a trap for a short while of merely relying on bracketed exposures for nearly all shoots. There were many days when I was too lazy to get out filters and do it properly so it was much easier to just bracket my exposures and do the hard work later in Photoshop.

In the end I was just finding HDR was totally lacking something very special, HDR just looked too perfect and NOT at all how the eye saw it. HDR fanatics (myself included) continually fool themselves into believing that the end product they produce through HDR and image blending is a faithful representation of what they saw, but of the many many photographers I know only a few ever take real notice of what the scene really looks like. The others have their eyes stuck permanently behind the viewfinder relying solely on the camera to capture all the necessary bits of information. I make a point of studying very carefully the scene’s I record and do my best to etch them in my mind, right down to the tiniest details and by doing so I manage to find some very special elements of an image that HDR tends to over-produce and in most cases actually ruin. Shadow areas of an image, for example, are crucial to the depth and feel of an image yet HDR fanatics tend to, what I call rape the shadow areas, lightening them up much more than they appeared to the human eye and it’s so easy to fall into this trap with HDR. Again .. guilty as charged

In the last year I have slowly forced myself back to basics, getting exposures perfect with a single exposure, without filters and without bracketing. It’s not always easy depending on light conditions but actually a lot of the time it is and it all comes down to timing, planning and using all available and natural elements to control the flow of light into the camera.

I’ve enjoyed my journey with HDR and I do know I will still use HDR methods for certain work but with landscape, nature and some other forms of photography I’m finding the step back to basics to be producing very special images like none other and it’s made my photography all that more interesting and challenging again. The mental challenge has always been my driving force and it’s good to have that old friend back at my side.

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Basics of Macro Photography in Africa

Ever wondered how a photographer is able to get blown up pictures of a frog that is less than an inch long? What about a close up picture of living tissue or a postage stamp?

There is no magic to how this is done. An ordinary 35mm. camera can do this but if the hobbyist wants to get down on things, using something that is 100mm. or higher is better. This art is known as called macro photography or “photomacrography.”

Macro photography is nothing new. Before digital cameras were invented, people would shoot using a regular model then enlarge this according to the actual size of the object after it is developed.

This takes time and the new versions out in the market are better because images taken can be viewed on screen and deleted if this does not satisfy the photographer. This saves time and effort on the part of the individual who will have to have to this again if the picture isn’t that great.

The trick to getting these pictures is to shoot as close to the object as possible. Some people might say why not zoom in with the camera but the images are just satisfactory because the background just gets in the way. Photomacrography allows the user to shoot and have a larger image.

Even if people now use digital cameras, the rules for taking pictures are still the same.

1. The aperture must be adjusted to achieve the right frame during each shot.

2. The lighting must be balanced to bring out the true color of the image. If the lamps or the sun are not enough, perhaps having reflectors in the background can make this happen.

3. The use of flashes may at times be the only to get the right shot. The person can use a flash meter and test firing the camera a couple of times to be sure it is precise.

4. The object is usually taken in many angles to get the perfect shot. Those who don’t have steady hands then should use a tripod.

5. Equipment must be stored and cleaned properly to enable the photographer to use this again in the future.

There are books and seminars for those who want to learn more about photomacrography. It will be a good idea for the hobbyist to read and participant in such functions to be able to interact with professional photographers and excel better in this art.

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Explore Akagera National Park

This is on of the most protected areas in Rwanda. Akagera National Park is situated in the Eastern province of Rwanda along the boarder with Tanzania just about 2-3 hour’s drive from Kigali city. The park is named for the Kagera River which flows along its eastern boundary feeding into several lakes the largest of which is Lake Ihema. Akagera Park covers an area of 1,200km2 with highlands providing spectacular views over the expanse of lakes and swamps. And Akagera has its fair share of mountainous terrain with large protected wetlands which rewards you on your Rwanda Safari Holiday.

The Akagera national park is considered as one of the National Parks with abundant wildlife to mention some include giraffe, leopard, hyena, bush buck, antelopes, elephants, hippos and crocodiles can be seen in the Lake plus also various species of birds that feed on and around the lake.

Activities

Game drives:

Akagera National park is a home to various species of wildlife game viewing will be one of the activities enjoyed by visitors some of the animals to watch include giraffe, zebra, hyena, leopards, lion, elephants, bush buck, and various species of antelopes and birds, hippos and crocodiles can also be seen during the boat trip at Ihema.

Bird watching;

Many of the birds can be seen during the boat trip on Lake Akagera over 524 species of birds live in the park and they live in the savannah grassland of Akagera National Park. Birders are in position to encounter the papyrus

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Photos Look Better on a Dark Background

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve visited a forum and seen a photographer urging their viewers to view the image against a dark background because it looks better, I’d be a millionaire by now.

Black or dark backgrounds naturally enhance any and all colours, they can even make sub-standard images appear really good but ask yourself this …. are your walls at home painted black or charcoal grey?

I can guarantee that 99.9% of people will answer NO to that and I can also guarantee that 99.9% of your customers who you try and sell images and prints to also do not have dark black or grey walls in their houses.

If you truly want to visualise how an image will look in your house then view it on an appropriate background colour such as white or off-white shades or other neutral tones. As a photographer you should also think a little bit more about this and stop urging people to view it on a dark background, concentrate on making your images look good on lighter backgrounds, that is after all the conditions that 99% of your customers will use to display your print.

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Exploring Bwindi Forest, Home of the Mountain Gorillas

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest national park is one of the most popular safari parks in Africa. Located in the south western part of Uganda, Bwindi Forest is an amazing home to the mountain gorillas. According to the 2012 Gorilla Census,  there are over 400 mountain gorillas living within the impenetrable Forest.

Bwindi is the most popular place for gorilla trekking adventures and over the past decade it has been drawing thousands of travelers who visit Africa to see the endangered mountain gorillas. Over the past 20 years, many tourists have traveled to see these amazing creatures surviving only in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Though most renowned for mountain gorillas, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has also got other wildlife species which include; forest elephants, lions, monkeys, bird species and many more.

Many tourists who come for gorilla safaris to Uganda opt for different trips ranging from 3 Days to 3 Weeks adventures that include several adventures including game viewing in Uganda’s savanna parks, chimpanzee tracking, golden monkey tracking, bird watching, nature trekking etc. If you are looking for a trip that involves multiple gorilla tracking, a 4 Days Bwindi Gorilla Safari or a 5 Days Gorilla Safari is the best trip for you!

If you are on budget or with less time,  enjoy the 3 days Bwindi Gorilla Safari into the impenetrable rain forest.

How a Gorilla Trek is Organized

Day one is always involved with a long drive to Bwindi Forest. Tourists are picked from Entebbe Airport and transferred to Bwindi impenetrable national park via Masaka – Mbarara Highway. You will enjoy the scenic drive as you traverse the forests and the vegetation zones along the way. Along the way have a stopover at the Equator in order to enjoy the photos and the experiments. You will also buy some crafts since they are displayed everywhere. The guide will drive take you to an African restaurant where you will enjoy lunch with many different types of food. Later on you will proceed to the park where you will arrive in the evening. Check in at the lodge where you will have your dinner and overnight as you prepare for gorilla tracking the next day.

The second day, is always the day to track the endangered mountain gorillas within an allocated gorilla group. After an early morning breakfast leave the lodge with packed lunch and later proceed to the forest were you will start your search for the rare and endangered mountain gorillas. The trek normally takes a period ranging from 30 minutes to a full day hike looking for the gorillas. Be prepared and physically fit given that  the search for the mountain gorillas within the forest takes you up through various hills and valleys. Once these primates are found, you will be given one hour to watch these unique gorillas. You have the chance to take photographs! During the hike, you have a chance to see other animals that include; elephants, monkeys birds,. You will later return to the lodge for a late lunch or take a community walk where you will visit the neighbouring local communities in Bwindi. The Batwa Experience is one of the most popular community tour taking you into the community of the Batwa people, short pygmy people who used to live with the gorillas in the impanetrable forest. You will enjoy their traditional dances and cultures during this tour! In the evening, you will return to the lodge for dinner and an overnight.

On this third day after breakfast , you will check out from the lodge, you will transfer with your packed lunch. During the drive back, enjoy the scenic views as you travel. You can have a stopover at Mpambire drum makers where you will have some experiments about the making of the drums. Later proceed to Kampala where you will be taken to the airport for your departure flight or transferred to the hotel for your overnight and dinner.