Wildebeest and Lilies

Wildebeest and lilies

This image is a favourite of mine. It's not shot in golden light during the 'magic' hour or even anywhere close. It's harsh sunlight on a blazing hot day at 11:56am. The heat and the haze was horrific and you can see it swirling in the print. But that's the reality... A hot and windy day in one of the most beautiful and remote parts of Africa with a lonely wildebeest staring back at me. Just he and I in the empty land.

Information

This shot was taken very quickly hand-held using a Canon 7D mark ii and a 500mm F4 lens. I used an ISO of 320 an aperture of F4 and exposed for a mere 1/6400 of  a second.

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The Lion and the Rat

 Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa


Photo Information:

[Canon Canon EOS 7D Mark II + EF400mm f/2.8L IS II USM] [ISO100, SS 1/640, F2.8, FL400, Flash:off]

Charles William Goodlet
will@willgoodlet.com

The Lion and the Rat

 Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa


Photo Information:

[Canon Canon EOS 5D Mark III + EF400mm f/2.8L IS II USM] [ISO250, SS 1/500, F3.5, FL400, Flash:off]

Charles William Goodlet
will@willgoodlet.com

This little character has to be one of my favourites in the Kalahari. It's known as a whistling rat because of the piping whistles it makes. I found this little fellow at a lion sighting, Three big male lions were keeping a lioness company because she was in oestrus. One of the males was mating every seven or eight minutes.

The whistling rat was oblivious to this and much more interested in his own business of getting the burrow ship-shape and stocked for winter. Eventually, my attention was fully focused on this little guy scurrying around. Patience was rewarded with this shot of him collecting a small branch for use in his home.

I have to say it is one of my favourite Kalahari images at the moment and even though I know no-one wants a whistling rat on their wall, I'm still going to tell the story and make a canvas up. To me, it is such a beautiful little moment. One that is hidden away from most eyes and that takes place amidst the drama of more glamorous but perhaps less interesting, happenings.

Whistling rat builds a nest

If you search for information on whistling rats, there is surprisingly little to be found and I guess that is a side effect of being one of the least noticed creatures of the Kalahari!
They have a habit of vocalising with piercing whistles and ultrasonic calls (which we can't hear). They are a territorial species and only make contact with other rats during breeding when pairs will occupy a single burrow until their young are born.
Typically they forage, as seen in these pictures, for succulent green foliage and twigs with bark. This provides enough water in the heat of the Kalahari that they do not need to drink.
Obviously, being creatures near the bottom of the food chain means that they have many enemies. These include snakes, jackal, honey badgers and the ever-swooping  pale chanting goshawk.
If you haven't seen these little rats before then keep an eye out, they are wonderful creatures to watch alongside their mischievous cousin, the striped mouse - more on this creature in my next story!

Information:

The rat was photographed with a Canon 7D mark ii crop sensor body in order to put the 'maximum number of pixels on target'. It was paired with the Canon 400mm F2.8 lens and shot for minimum depth of field at an aperture of F2.8. Exposure was 1/640th of a second and ISO set at 100 for maximum image quality.

 
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Nesting

Back-to-back

Back-to-back

Liuwa Plains is famous for it's huge clans of organised hunting hyenas. Well the hyenas were out, just after sunset and they were organised! Grant and I were standing close to the land rover watching the hunt unfold in front of us. The zebras were in a mixed herd with wildebeest and a lone hyena was coming down the sand track to the left. It was upwind and the animals could smell it, becoming skittish.

Meanwhile the rest of the clan of hyenas had circled downwind and were approaching low to the ground and blending with the grasses of the plains.

As the light reflecting on the clouds faded I snapped these three zebra standing back-to-back to protect themselves. When the light had gone. Grant and I left the scene but not before one of the hyena had come to check out these strangers from the south!

Information:

The image was taken while standing a few metres from my land rover - one of the privileges of Liuwa. The image is captured after sunset in the middle of a mixed herd of wildebeest and zebra. At the time, hyena were hunting and these zebras stayed close to comfort and defend each other. I used a Canon 7D mark ii DSLR and 500mm F4 lens at an ISO of 1250, an aperture F4 while exposing for 1/640th of a second. The image was post processed in Adobe Lightroom.

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Lily of Liuwa

Lily of Liuwa

If I had to give you a reason explaining my desire to travel to a remote and rarely visited part of western Zambia, then this image is probably a good part of it. It's only a lily, a plant that appears in the spring when there is a promise of rain and the skies grow thunderous black. Why is it special; so special that it drew me across Africa like a magnet?

The answer is, that it is one of the thousands upon thousands, possibly millions, that burst into flower at this time all across the sandy soils and grasses of this seemingly endless plain.

To witness this sea of pinks and gold, to see it stretch to a horizon on which the sun pauses to take rest. To hear nothing, except the beating of one's heart. The sublime silence, before the dark. And to think; this is a world we could have.

Information:

The sun had just set under an angry grey sky and the reflected golden light was bouncing off the underside of the clouds, bathing everything in a wonderful warm glow and soft shadow. There was a carpet of pink and white lilies laid out with the orange and grey sky behind. I used a Canon 5D mark iii DSLR paired with a 100-400mm zoom lens and flash. I took the image while lying in the sand and used an ISO of 100 with a wide aperture of F5. Combined with the focal length of 270mm this gave a lovely smooth background in the out-of-focus areas. The close focusing ability of the 100-400mm lens, is a joy in these situations, behaving like a macro. I used a careful blend of flash and natural light to help the lily and foreground show up against the brighter sky. It's exposed at 1/40th of a second, which is very slow - the flash helps to keep things sharp in these conditions. The image is processed in Adobe Lightroom.

 
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King of the Green Desert

 Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa


Photo Information:

[Canon Canon EOS 7D Mark II + EF400mm f/2.8L IS II USM] [ISO100, SS 1/640, F3.2, FL400, Flash:off]

Charles William Goodlet
will@willgoodlet.com

King of the Green Desert

This is a moment I dreamed about for twenty-four years. I knew what it would look like before it ever happened. A beautiful black-maned lion of the Kalahari caught by the dying sun amidst the green splendour of summer. The only thing I would have added, in my dreams of course, is a butterfly; one of the many that flutter across the aching beauty of the desert.

There is something special about the light in the kalahari, indeed out west in general. It's clear and crystalline, like viewing a scene through a diamond. The sun is so buttery that I sometimes have to question my eyes and there is no sky that is deeper, bluer and more beautiful.

Photographing a wild lion, that deigns to lie in the sun (they most often move to shade) in the fleeting greeness of summer during the kalahari evening is a moment to hold close, forever.

Information:

Photographed with a Canon 7D mark ii crop sensor camera and 400mm F2.8 L IS ii telephoto lens. The sun is off to the left of the shot and the lion is lying in the grass of the Auob river bed near the Houmed waterole. He's looking over at the rest of the pride which is still lying in the shade cast by a tall camel thorn tree on the western edge of the valley.

Surprisingly, he is unaware of a large male leopard that is 200m behind him, also lying in shade to avoid the heat of the late afternoon sun.

I took the image with a short telephoto at just 400mm. Using a narrow aperture of just F3.2 and a shorter focal length allowed the capture of a wider scene and still allowed a soft background. Wider scenes and soft backgrounds are reminiscent of the bygone era of medium format portrait photography and it is a 'look' that I really enjoy in wildlife photography. The glorious Kalahari light meant that I could use ISO100 and and shutter speed of 1/640 ensuring the best possible image quality. The image was processed in Adobe Lightroom.

 

 
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Wandering wilderbeest

Wandering wildebeest

Liuwa plains in the extreme west of Zambia is a remote and incredible region of billiard smooth grasslands. Every year, in summer, it is inundated with rains and swollen rivers and becomes impassable.

In the spring, as the waters recede the plains change. Bursting with bird life while 45,000 wildebeest follow the retreating rains northwards in the second largest migration in Africa.

Liuwa is famous not just for its wildebeest, its huge marauding clans of daylight hunting hyena and the last of its lions, Lady Liuwa but also for its seemingly endless fields of lilies. I travelled to Liuwa overland, at the beginning of the rainy season in the suicide months, specifically to look for an image like this; combining Liuwa's famous lilies and its famous wildebeest.

Information:

The image was taken while standing on the roof of my land rover. I had frantically scrambled on top in order to fill the scene with liles. It was captured in the heat and overcast of the early afternoon and the heat shimmer is evident in the print. I used a Canon 7D mark ii DSLR and 500mm F4 lens at an ISO of 100, an aperture F4 while exposing for 1/1600th of a second. The image was post processed in Adobe Lightroom.

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Home Decor & Printing Options

 

Taking the time to think about which images and which rooms go together is important. I've been there myself, focusing more on the printed image than the space I would hang it in. The more I've printed, the more I have learned....

It cannot all be about the image, artwork and a space for art, are two sides of the same coin.

 

Ready to hang Canvas Prints

Wall Art-121538.jpg

These ready-to-hang canvas prints are wonderful value for money when it comes to transforming the look of your home. I've found that generally, it is better not to get seduced by the image in the photograph itself but rather to try to find a picture that both appeals to you personally as well as complements the design space.

If you can find a complementary colour scheme or accessorise around it the whole effect will be captivating. It doesn't take much to add the connection between the picture and its space.

Obviously, in our own homes, we tend to hang images with special meanings - pictures of family etc... However, in rental properties, bed and breakfasts, hotels we need to make different choices! This kind of print is ideal and will help tie the decor of the whole room together!

 


Wall Art-122239.jpg

The Art Of The Print

 

The art of printing is such a big topic that Ansel Adams, the godfather of wilderness landscape photography and all American legend, dedicated a whole book to the subject! 

But don't worry! I just want to talk some basics!

 

Printing a Digital photograph

Perspective_print.png

Printing is filled with pitfalls, many of which relate to the quality of the photograph itself. When we look at a small image on the back of a camera or on a computer screen two things are important. First, the image is so small that we are unlikely to spot any major deficiencies and second; the image is crucially very different because it is produced from light emitting from the screen. The colours and tones will usually seem brighter and more vibrant as a result.

When we take the next step and print the photograph we have to take this into account. We also have to take into account that ink cannot replicate the colours that our camera captures in the same way.

So what does this mean for us poor suckers that just want to hang a print? Well, just that we need to exercise some care in the following areas:

  • When we print we will usually be increasing the size of the image. This means that the bigger the image is in proportion to the size it was captured, the worse the quality is going to get. So the camera you use and the degree to which you 'cropped' or zoomed in, is going to affect how big you can safely print. As a guide, a modern 35mm dslr can produce an image between A2-A1 and at a push A0. 
  • Our image does not emit light like a computer screen. It reflects it. This means that the picture will probably look darker than you saw it on the monitor or your camera screen - a good printer (person not machine!) will attempt to compensate for this effect.
  • The image is ink and paper. The technology behind ink, as good as it is, cannot do anything to compensate for the fact that it looks flatter when applied to paper than an image on a luminous screen. The paper itself also has a role to play, imparting a subtle texture and sometimes colour to the finished print. A matte paper will look much less punchy than a high gloss paper.
  • Remember I mentioned colours up above? Well the colour space 'seen' by a camera and many printers differ. This isn't necessarily bad - but it can lead to situations where a client expects one kind of image and ends up with one that looks different.
  • The colour of the light and the luminosity as it hits the surface of our print are another factor. Because our print reflects light in order for us to see it - invariably it takes on a little of that brightness or shade and a little of the tonality of the light source... warm and yellow in romantic candle light, cool and blue in bright daylight etc...
By Ephraim Moshe Lilien (Leo Baeck Institute) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Ephraim Moshe Lilien (Leo Baeck Institute) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I suppose the long and the short of it is, that, despite what we may think, A printed picture and a digital image on a screen or camera are quite different things. A good photographer paired with a good print room will know how to use these factors to produce the best prints - not as a compromised digital image but as an artistic work that stands on its own,