Hello and welcome to my blog where I share my photos and experiences from my travels to the African bush and other wild places.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


The last light in Amboseli National Park created a dramatic sunset and perfect backdrop to a herd of elephants returning home after the day's foraging in the marshlands. It is hard not to enjoy every minute spent in this jewel of the African parks. It is a great place to enjoy watching the African elephant as they are scattered all over the plains at the foot of the iconic Mount Kilimanjaro. This evening will be remembered however for my frantic search of a decent photo in anticipation of an approaching dramatic sunset. I was driving along a road that the elephants usually cross on their way home from the plains. I could see a gap in the clouds on the horizon where the last rays of sunlight would peep through and I knew it would be spectacular. I was missing a foreground subject however. Every few meters there were elephant paths crossing the road but there were no elephants in sight. The sun started to light up the clouds in a beautiful red color when my luck turned and I saw a herd of elephants approaching the road a few hundred meters ahead of me. They were in a hurry and I made it just in time to get my photograph of them with the sunset backdrop.

Elephants on fire
Amboseli National Park, Kenya
Canon 5D Mark II | 70-200mmf/2.8 | 1/200 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400

Monday, May 14, 2012


The fog belt that stretches across the red dunes of the Namibian coastline hides many secrets. This 5 km wide strip off the coast has its own unique climate with morning and evening fog and hosts some unusual creatures: Sidewinders (Peringuey's Adder), FitzSimon's Burrowing Skink, Namaqua Chameleon, Swift Sand-diving Lizard and the Web-footed Gecko (Palmato Gecko) to name but a few. In April 2011 I set out on a photographic mission, to experience and photograph the wonders of the Namibian desert. After discovering the landscape spectacles of the Namibrand and Sossusvlei dunes, I ended up at the town of Swakopmund looking for the little critters I've heard so much about before.

Gecko in the dunes
Swakopmund, Namibia
Canon 1Ds Mark III | Sigma 15mm | 1/80 sec at f/11, ISO 800

With the help of a local guide we spent 4 days driving along the dunes and finding everything from scorpions, sidewinders, gecko's, chameleons and beetles. One of my photographic objectives was to capture the essence of the web-footed gecko. I was inspired by photographs of this little critter I've seen from Heinrich van den Berg. The geckos name originates from the web between their toes and is now known as the "palmato gecko". I still prefer "web-footed gecko". They are nocturnal with a beautiful light pink and blue translucent skin. Sunlight would kill them instantly so in the daytime they hide in the sand, about two feet under the surface. Early in the morning you still find them out on the dunes hunting for prey when there is fog. This usually only clears by 9am in the summer months. When they encounter any threat, like humans, their only defense is to run away.

I had a specific shot in mind. One where the gecko has a striking curved posture but where it also shows the environment they occur in. This required ultra wide angle portrait shots. I was faced with two problems: The fist is that the web-footed gecko is surprisingly small, only about 4cm long. This meant that if I wanted the gecko to appear large in my frame using an ultra wide lens, I had to get extremely close to it. All of my ultra wide lenses, the Canon 16-35mmf/2.8, Canon 10-22mmf/3.5 and the Nikon 14-24mmf/2.8 have a minimum focus distance that is too far, at around 25 millimeters. If I had the gecko in focus at the minimum focus distance it would result in it being too small in the frame. The solution was borrowing the Sigma 15mm fish-eye lens from a friend, with a minimum focus distance of a mere 15 millimeters. That is such a great lens and a pity it is not made anymore. Finding one second hand is almost impossible.

The second problem I was faced with was that I had to find a gecko specimen willing to be photographed at such a short distance, in the right location for the perfect backdrop, and with the perfectly curved posture. The answer to this was, of course, four days of trekking geckos across the dunes, multiple shots, multiple angles and cleaning a lot of sand grains off my equipment until I got the perfect shot that I had envisaged. There are many things I believe can be improved about this photograph, and I believe it's important never to feel too complacent about your results, but the four days of fun trying to capture the perfect frame was the prize for me.

This image won the April leg of a major South African wildlife photographic competition.