In search of quiet splendour

My story

Please scroll through these pages, a collection of some of my favourite photographs. They’re a tribute to the beauty of the wild places I’ve been fortunate to experience, and the important biodiversities they host.

My gallery of birds has been added and I’ll continue to update it as I spend the next few months working through my mammals and other wildlife images. Please watch this space.

Enthusiasts will find details on where I captured these birds and beasts, and some information on the photographic process I follow. I’d be thrilled if they help your personal journey in some small way.

As a youngster I remember poring over maps, first of my neighbourhood, and then more widely of Africa and beyond. I longed to visit the lesser known and more romantic-sounding towns, national parks, countries: Timbuktu, Mana Pools, Kilimanjaro, The Congo…

In the late eighties, friends and I would use our savings and vacation time to visit often-reluctant neighbouring countries, and as soon as South Africans were welcomed by the rest of the world (in 1993) I bought an old Land Rover and headed north, criss-crossing the continent, climbing its highest peaks, visiting as many wild places as I could. If only I’d had a DSLR camera and long lens back then!

Marriage, children, and age have spurred us on. We’re all addicted and each new landscape we leave seems to add two new destinations to the must-visit list. It’s a lifelong work-in-progress.

I hope you enjoy some of these images as much as I’ve enjoyed getting there and taking them.

(The resolutions have been limited to avoid copyright infringements. If you are interested in using them for personal or commercial use, please get in touch with me.)

Chanan

Categories

My Photographic Journey

I was inspired to portray the beauty of our natural world from an early age. Growing up, annual family holidays were spent in the Kruger National Park, and when I was gifted my first camera (my dad’s old Minolta) at the age of ten, I immediately set out to capture as many animal species as I could. My interest in nature and love of wild places evolves and grows with each journey. This has been aided by advances in camera equipment, improved access to information and some destinations, and time spent outdoors with family and like-minded friends.

The creatures displayed in these pages are all wild and free-roaming. I strive to capture something unique and artistic but with birds, rarely “cooperating”, it is a challenge. Many are difficult to glimpse. Photographing them is of another order of magnitude. Getting creative is the holy grail, seldom achieved, but it is the impetus and inspiration for the many images presented here.

My intention is to continually upgrade the content, adding new species and replacing good images with better ones. Planning trips to remote locations, meeting local guides and fellow birders with a similar passion, and contributing in my own small way to their conservation, has been incredibly enriching.

Equipment and method. I traveled across Africa – Cape Town to Casablanca – many years ago with a Canon A1 and a box of the beautifully saturated Fuji Velvia. I’d budgeted for a year on the road, so I had to pace myself. I was also going to have to wait up to a year before I was to see many of those photos. Digital photography, loaded with numerous powerful features (e.g. focusing options, ISO flexibility, exposure-checking) has completely revolutionised wildlife photography. I shifted to Nikon and slowly upgraded to their D500 and D850. By the end of 2023, over 90% of my bird images had passed through my Nikkor 200-500mm f5.6 lens onto the D500’s sensor. The lens is sharp, portable and versatile. I’d usually shoot at f5.6, 1/1600th and on auto-ISO, adjusting as and when necessary. I would set my maximum ISO to 6400, a back button for spot focusing and a front one for a small group focus. These personalised settings have change with the latest eye-tracking technology. For my trip to Madagascar in September 2023 I purchased Nikon’s Z8, a phenomenal camera whose eye-tracking upped my hit rate, and my auto-ISO cap, in the dark rainforests. I’ll add fill flash, sometimes, during daylight hours to show off the bird’s plumage. For mammals and other wildlife I’m more likely to use the D850, shorter lenses, and different settings depending on the scenario. Well, at least until I can afford another Z-series Nikon camera.

Ultimately a good image is the result of many factors: planning, knowhow, time outdoors, patience, and a lot of luck.

Feedback. I would value your feedback regarding species’ names (I’m not an expert, especially with tricky LBJs), the website’s design, or suggestions for additional content.

Thanks to my beautiful family who patiently tolerate my obsession, allowing me these indulgences, and who gifted me this website; my birding friends and guides who have enriched these experiences, in particular my good mate, and incredible photographer, John Gale, who has willingly embraced my “bird flu” infection. Thanks also to John for the pic in My Story. Hats off and much gratitude to Riaan Coertzen of Viko Designs who designed and manages this website. Without his understanding of what I was wanting to achieve, and his coding wizardry which allows me to add new images seamlessly, this website would not have been realised.