Behind the lens

My Photo
A Dentist. Conservationist. Wildlife photographer. It all started when I was very young playing with point-and-shoot cameras at home. We were travelling a lot, and I captured moments on camera and the love for photography became a passion - especially wildlife photography. My drive is conservation, to use photography as a tool. Hope you enjoy the images!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The reason behind Black and White

“The most colorful thing in the world is black and white, it contains all colors and at the same time excludes all.”  - Unknown


Why black and white monochrome images in wildlife photography?  
Why not only colour photography?  
Why not stick o the original scene as seen with your own eyes?

Monochrome photography has been around for ages.  For me, it is a beautiful way to use in combination with wildlife photography.  Here are a few point on this subject:


  • It tells the same story in a different language.  Two pictures can be next to each other, and they can tell two totally different stories, evoking two different emotions.  In the two examples (leopard portraits) below, one can see the prominent difference in message:
         
                                      


       


  • It removes distractions of colour...leaving you with a raw image, leaving it naked to be seen for what it really is.  In the example below, the wild dog is clear without any colour variations around the main subject: the wild dog.

  • Monochrome conversions are a great way to create nuance and mood to a photograph.  To create a tangible atmosphere.  In order to do this, light and tones are used creatively.  In the zebra portrait below, the mood was created with dust and reflection.  This strong effect would never have been possible with colour.  

  • The eye doesn’t search the image for anything else but the subject matter.  The main subject/message can be conveyed very effective in a well structured monochrome image.

  • Black and white keeps you focused on the actual composition and texture of the photo. It allows you to focus on shapes, light and shadows, lines and perspective. That is why some photos look more convincing in black and white.  As seen in the two examples (elephant drinking) below, textures, light, shadows and tonal range are much more prominent and visible, making monochrome images a very effective and strong tool in photography.  


  • Monochrome images have a more artistic feel to them...being timeless, relevant in all eras.  They can applied to any genre of photography.  In the panning photograph below, the viewer is looking at a painting-like photograph.  This long exposure photograph (wildebeest running) effect is enhanced by viewing it in black and white.  Suddenly wildlife photography becomes art.

Thank you again for browsing my work, I appreciate every comment.

Until next time,

J

Monday, 23 February 2015

My personal tips on getting my shots

There are hundreds and thousands of articles on "Getting the perfect wildlife shot" out there, or maybe "Top tips from the professionals"...




Today I want to share a few personal yet practical tips I adhere to when going on a photo safari.


1.  The best photographs start before going on safari


  • I always do quite a bit of reading and scanning the internet for the best spots and times for visiting my destination.  This also includes the kind of equipment to take and travelling off the beaten track.



2.  Charged, packed and backed up

  • Backups, backups, backups...My camera/flash batteries are always 100% charged and my memory cards downloaded with a backup, in other words formatted and ready for anything.  I always carry at least four 32 gig 90mb/sec with me.  One never knows what can happen.  A second camera body is crucial, not only if one body fails for some reason, but to have two different lens options is a quick way to switch in a jiffy.  



3.  Have patience

  • For wildlife photography, this is one thing I have learned early...to have more patience than you would ever think...that's if you want the great shots.  Having patience is very important, it gives you ample time to think about your current situation and have your camera settings correct as you progress.


4.  Think outside of the box 

  • If you ever come in a situation where you might think you have no proper shot, think laterally and enlarge your creativity.  Be an artist in the field.  


5.  Backgrounds and Angles

  • A friend of mine from Zimanga game reserve in South Africa, hammered on two important points: background and angles.  The more I thought about this, the more I cemented in my memory.  Without a good background, a brilliant scene can disappear between a clutter and a busy backdrop.  And to shoot a once in a lifetime shot from a bad angle can drown the image in an ocean of lameness.  



6.  Inject emotion

  • To do this you need to use you light well.  Either shoot into the sun and maybe get some moody silhouettes, or use the dust around the animals to create an tangible atmosphere.



7.   Mark to go back

  • In post processing using Adobe Lightroom 5, I always flag images with potential; only to return to them a few times, getting new ideas on processing before exporting.  
Hope this helped you guys to add some value to your next trip.  

Have a great day!

J



Wednesday, 7 January 2015

My Top 10 Monochromes images for 2014

It's always a good idea to sit back, relax and ponder about the past year.  The things you succeeded in, the things you could have done better perhaps and maybe a few lessons to take home.

The same goes for your photography goals...

My goal was to improve and take more images for monochrome.  

  • With this mindset and fondness for the 'Black and White', I got out and decided to take pictures for monochrome, while in the field.


  • I also did some reading on proper monochrome conversion, since this is crucial to make an image look captivating, natural and convey a message with atmosphere.  


Below are my Top 10 monochrome images for 2014:




1.  Elephant Sunrays (Zimanga, South Africa)


2.  Leopard going Down (Mashatu, Botswana)

3.  Wildebeest Dust (Mashatu, Botswana)


4.  Leopard Rest (Mashatu, Botswana)


5.  Painted Dog Stalk (Zimanga, South Africa)


6.  Dragon Breath (Zimanga, South Africa)


7.  Double Trouble (Zimanga, South Africa)


8.  Guineafowl feast (Mashatu, Botswana)


9.  Mom and me (Mashatu, Botswana)


10.  Majestic (Mashatu, Botswana)


Thank you for checking in and browsing my work!

Please note that all images are for sale on different mediums, for more info, please go to the official Marxphoto website.

Until next time!

Jaco

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

An Epic chase

There will never be a moment where one can grow tired observing animal interaction in the African bush!  

 I recently returned from a private photographic safari to Mashatu game reserve in Botswana.  During our stay we had unbelievable sightings and were treated with quite the surprise on our last day.

We came across a pride of lion resting underneath a thicket in the distance.  As we approached, we saw two lionesses and three cubs.  They made a relatively fresh eland kill and were filled to the brim.


All around the lion, vultures gathered as the clock ticked by.  At one stage I counted about 15 vultures around the kill, all keeping their distance.


Suddenly I saw the lionesses alert and staring into the distance.  At this stage we couldn't see anything in this direction.  Clearly something was brewing.


After about five minutes, a lone hyena approached the scene with the smell of a kill in the air.  The hyena was cautious yet curious.


About five minuted later, a second hyena approached and smelled the air.  We literally had the kill on the one side of the vehicle and the two hyenas on the other side, about twenty meters apart.


Suddenly the one lioness flew to her feet and walked closer, observing the behaviour of the two hyena.


From nowhere she exploded into action and ran towards the younger hyena...


As she ran, dust was kicked up by thumping and breathing...


The chase continued...


Lucky for the hyena, the lioness just ate herself to the limit and her speed let her down on this day.  Even though male lions tend to kill hyenas,  lionesses can either seriously injure hyena and in some cases cause fatalities.  

 

Just as the action died, the second lioness got up and burst into running towards the older hyena...


She was fast, really fast, and at one stage I was certain the hyena will be taken down at any stage...but luck was on the hyena's side...by the hair on its skin...


As the hyena strolled away, even a jackal stood its ground and barked with warning.


The chase was over.  The lionesses returned to their kill and cubs.  They rested after another successful and exciting day on the African savannah.

Until next time guys, hope you enjoyed this experience with me.  Please let me know what you think and you are welcome to comment!

All the best, 

J











Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The tall ones

Even though the giraffe is one of the most beautiful animals with awkward long necks and dark spots, they can be quite difficult to photograph with a strong composition.  

Below are two examples that from a personal point of view presented stronger than the norm.  Both pictures were taken at Mashatu game reserve, Botswana.

Below I included all seven giraffe to focus on the group as a whole and to show them as a group.




In my second example below, I did a close-up shot, with both the mother and baby.  By doing a close-up, I could focus on the face and even a red billed ox-pecker on the baby's head.  The body of the mother balanced the frame.




Well, those are my favourite giraffe images, please add your comments and/or opinion;  would love to hear from you!

Have a good one!

J


Thursday, 23 October 2014

On the wrong side of the sun

Shooting into the sun can be a challenge sometimes.  

The biggest question is: do you want a solid silhouette or do you want to keep some detail in the shadows when shooting a soft silhouette.

When exposing in the bright areas in the sky, the shadows in the photo will be pitch black.  In the case of the picture below, I exposed on the body of the giraffe and took a few shots.  Luckily the sky was still not too overexposed and manageable light in the shadows made it possible to see some good detail in the darker shadows.

In Lightroom I cropped a bit, pushed up the shadows a tad and increased contrast.  Hereafter I sharpened a bit and had a pleasant result: soft on the eyes and I loved the mood!


Techs: 1/8000sec,f/6.3, 70mm,ISO1250


Well, feel free to comment, would love to learn from fellow photogs!

Have a good weekend!

Jaco

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

In her prime

Hi guys! 

Sorry for the silence, just returned from a great trip to Mashatu game reserve in the Tuli, Botswana.

Today I want to share with you a quick picture about a lioness we followed during the trip, a big and strong cat.  She chased hyenas, killed eland and protected her cubs as they tagged along on her hunts.  

This particular shot occurred on our last day at sunset and I wanted to share the photo as it gives one an idea of the beautiful African landscape of the Tuli, together with a prime huntress in the foreground.

Techs:  1/2000sec, f/2.8, 200mm, ISO800

Would love to hear your comments!

Have a good week!

Jaco