Dust, Heat and Warthogs

Seeing that its a new year and our CNP safaris are about to kick off I thought I would do some house cleaning of my various external hard drives.  After many evenings of going through every single original image taken on every session of the 100 plus days during 2013 I have cleared many 100s of Gigs of my hard drives and moved and grouped relevant directories.

I normally trash anything that doesn’t warrant a second look during my process of uploading my images from my Compact Flash card to my external hard drive, but I went through everything again and deleted the duplicates and unwanted ones as I went.  In the process I also picked out some of my more memorable images of the and moments during captured during the year and discovered some images I liked and moved to my To Edit folders.

Some of my more special sightings did not make to the best photography due to operator error or environmental conditions or merely the way the action unfolded.  I recall one day at around 11:30 am when we were on a safari in Etosha National Park and on our way back to Mokuti Lodge when we saw a commotion in the distant grassland.  As I drove closer we saw 2 Warthog boars in a big fight.

Two Warthog boars fighting in the Etosha National Park. Time: 11:53:11 AM Model: NIKON D800 Lens (mm): 1200 ISO: 640 Aperture: 8 Shutter: 1/4000 Exp. Comp.: -1.3 Program: Aperture Priority

Two Warthog boars fighting in the Etosha National Park.
Time: 11:53:11 AM, Model: NIKON D800, Lens (mm): 1200, ISO: 640, Aperture: 8, Shutter: 1/4000, Exp. Comp.: -1.3, Program: Aperture Priority

But they were a long way off in the grass and on a hot day like it was around midday, there was a lot of heat haze which meant unsharp images. So I started off with a D800 attached to my 600mm f/4.0 and added a 2.0x extender to get the reach.  Soft images but I was at least getting the action.  As luck would have it the fight was moving closer to us and I was then able to take off the 2x extender, replace it with a 1.4 ext and eventually shoot at a straight 600mm.  So don’t forget to either zoom if you are using a zoom lens or add/remove extenders if they are available to you.  I was trying to get as much of the action full frame as was possible.

After some time the one boar wanted to concede and ran away, but the other  one followed him.  Seen here waiting to fight again.  I have now switched the 2x extender for the 1.4 ext. Time: 11:58:36 AM Model: NIKON D800 Lens (mm): 850 ISO: 640 Aperture: 8 Shutter: 1/4000 Exp. Comp.: -1.3 Program: Aperture Priority

After some time the one boar wanted to concede and ran away, but the other one followed him here waiting to fight again. I have now switched the 2x extender for the 1.4 ext.
Time: 11:58:36 AM, Model: NIKON D800, Lens (mm): 850, ISO: 640, Aperture: 8, Shutter: 1/4000, Exp. Comp.: -1.3, Program: Aperture Priority

Even then with all the heat and dust that the fighters were kicking up, the images were not pin sharp given I was shooting with D800 as well.  This again highlighted the fact to me that many novice photographers all yearn for a 600mm, or more recently the 800mm, lens and think that they will automatically get sharp images because of the lens.  

I have found on many occasions that even if you are close to a subject that just the heat haze coming of your vehicle and being blown between you and the subject is enough the mess up your images.

.

Some intense slashing with the teeth causing gashes to the face and body. Time: 12:00:11 PM Model: NIKON D800 Lens (mm): 600 ISO: 640 Aperture: 7.1 Shutter: 1/6400 Exp. Comp.: -1.3 Program: Aperture Priority

Some intense slashing with the teeth causing gashes to the face and body.
Time: 12:00:11 PM, Model: NIKON D800, Lens (mm): 600, ISO: 640, Aperture: 7.1, Shutter: 1/6400, Exp. Comp.: -1.3, Program: Aperture Priority

We experienced this on a recent trip to the Mara where our 2 photography vehicles where parked at 90 degree angles to one another while photographing a Cheetah lying on a termite mound.  Although it was early morning it was hot and the images in the one vehicle were slightly unsharp where the other vehicles images where all pin sharp.  Why?  Heat haze coming off our vehicle and carried on the slight breeze towards the subject.  Throw in a bit of dust and your images are unsharp.

The weaker boar runs off straight towards us and crosses the road in front of us.  The fight lasted just more than 13 minutes. Time: 12:00:53 PM Model: NIKON D800 Frame #: 4970 Lens (mm): 600 ISO: 640 Aperture: 7.1 Shutter: 1/6400 Exp. Comp.: -1.3 Program: Aperture Priority

The weaker boar runs off straight towards us and crosses the road in front of us. The fight lasted just more than 13 minutes.
Time: 12:00:53 PM, Model: NIKON D800, Lens (mm): 600, ISO: 640
Aperture: 7.1, Shutter: 1/6400, Exp. Comp.: -1.3, Program: Aperture Priority

A 600mm lens plus extenders works great and will give you very sharp images given you have enough good light to enable a high shutter speed, the subject isn’t too far away from you and you don’t have environmental impacts like heat and dust blowing around.  In the next article I will share another example where even with all the expertise in the world you could never get the shot in million.

Join me on one of our CNP Photographic safaris to some of the best places on the African continent.

neal@cnpsafaris.com

www.coopernaturephotos.com

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