Anita Erdmann Photography: Blog http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog en-us (C) Anita Erdmann Photography aerdmann@telus.net (Anita Erdmann Photography) Fri, 14 Apr 2017 21:59:00 GMT Fri, 14 Apr 2017 21:59:00 GMT http://www.anitaerdmann.com/img/s/v-5/u310867362-o705873222-50.jpg Anita Erdmann Photography: Blog http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog 80 120 How did the Fuji do? http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2017/4/how-did-the-fuji-do I've recently returned from a trip to Death Valley and surrounding areas with my new Fuji X-T2.... how did we do?

I was overall very impressed with the Fuji, I learned some things along the way and I found a few small things that I wish Fuji would improve upon.  

I read the owners manual and bought a few e-guides on how to use the camera prior to leaving, but somehow I managed to miss a few key points.  Had I practiced with the camera more prior to leaving, I most likely would have figured this all out... but I learned to use the camera on the trip and worked out some of the bugs along the way.  I thought that the film bracketing function was pretty neat... it allows you to pick three film styles to bracket.  I picked two colour options and a black and white, and they did not disappoint... totally cool feature.  But.......  What I failed to recognize was that when you shot in this bracket mode, it only saved the photos in JPG not in the RAW format.  This wasn't the end of the world, but I shot a day and a half without any RAW files... once I realized what was going on, I decided to ditch the bracketing feature and just save normal RAW files.  I believe that Fuji has fixed this in the latest firmware update.  The camera also stops recording RAW files and switches to JPG when you chose the High or Low ISO setting... I chose the Low setting towards the end of the last day and came home with JPG files for about 20 shots that I would have had to have RAW files for in editing.  Lesson learned.  

The Fuji was so easy to use... aperture ring on the lens, dials on the top of the camera... everything seems to be in the right place.  The colour and detail of the photos are amazing, I honestly didn't miss my Nikons!  The only thing I hope Fuji changes in a firmware update is the ability to zoom in to 100% or more when reviewing a photo in Liveview.  During night photography, when I focused on the stars... it was a bit of a crap shoot because I wasn't sure if the stars were entirely in focus as I could only zoom in to about 80%, thankfully I was able to trust the infinity mark on my Rokinon lens.

So here are a few of the photos...

With all the health issues I was having recovering from chemo and radiation.. and the problems associated with the new tumor that they removed 2 days after returning from the trip....... I was unable to walk out onto the dunes.  So all of my dune shots were taken from further out with the Fujinon 55-200mm lens, I think it did very well and hopefully I can return in the future and get to the top of those sand piles!

When we got to Mesquite Dunes I saw the Milky Way as soon as we got out of the car... everyone else started their long walk to the dunes in the dark and I tried to find a decent spot to shoot the stars.  The first shot is from the parking lot and the second is out on the sand.  Although the photos might be a bit more noisy than my Nikon, I'm totally thrilled with how well the Fuji does at night!

Here are some more shots from the trip...

Windswept Arch, Fire CaveWindswept Arch, Fire Cave

 

 

]]>
aerdmann@telus.net (Anita Erdmann Photography) Death Valley", "sand dunes", desert, "Night photography", astrophotography, Rokinon, Fuji Fujifilm X-T2 anita erdmann photography http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2017/4/how-did-the-fuji-do Fri, 14 Apr 2017 21:59:12 GMT
Switching to Fuji http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2017/3/switching-to-fuji After shooting with Nikon for over 30 years, I've decided to switch to Fuji.  

I loved my Nikons and the great results I got, but I was using my cameras less and less because they were so heavy and cumbersome.  My entire kit with the D750, D800E and all the lenses weighed over 30 pounds.  If I wanted to go out for a day of shooting, I would first have to decide what lenses I might want to use and then pack a smaller bag with the equipment for the day... this smaller bag was usually still heavy and I complained every time I had to lug it from the house to the car and back.  If I complained about lugging it from the house to the car... can you image how bitchy I would have been on my next trip on a plane?!

I looked at all of my options for a smaller and lighter system, eventually settling on the Fuji X-T2.  I don't do much wildlife photography anymore so I didn't need the 60 frames per second of the new Olympus... I wasn't that interested in video so the features of the new Panasonic weren't much of a draw either.  The Fuji does everything well.... I can shoot 11 frames per second so more than good enough for wildlife... it does 4K video so if I ever decide to shoot video its more than good enough for that too.  I'm mostly interested in Landscapes and Night Photography and I know its fantastic for landscapes from the examples I've seen from photographers who use the Fuji.... I'll find out in the next week or two how it does at night, but I'm guessing it will be fine.  

My Fuji X-T2 with 5 lenses weighs about 10 pounds.  Now when I decide to go out shooting, the entire kit is light enough that I can grab it and take everything with me.  I've used it in Banff a few weeks ago and photography was fun again!!  I'm impressed with the sharpness of the shots and the nice colours.  I'll be using it more during the next two weeks and look forward to sharing some photos with you.

Here is a shot from Vermilion Lakes and Mt Rundle in Banff National Park... taken with the X-T2 and the 10-24mm lens.

]]>
aerdmann@telus.net (Anita Erdmann Photography) Banff Fuji Fujifilm Fujifilm X-T2 Fujinon Fujinon 10-24mm Nikon Nikon to Fuji Switch Winter X-T2 http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2017/3/switching-to-fuji Tue, 21 Mar 2017 20:26:12 GMT
How to shoot the Milky Way http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2016/3/how-to-shoot-the-milky-way After getting somewhat proficient at using my camera during the day, I decided that I wanted to try night photography... adding the Milky Way over a scene, literally opens up a whole new world.  I became hooked on Night Photography!

PLANNING

Before you head out on your shoot, you need to do some planning to know the best times and locations to maximize the brightness of the Milky Way.

First you will need to know when it will be dark enough to shoot.  The best time to shoot the Milky Way is once the sun is at least -18 degrees below the horizon at this point it is truly dark out.  Beautiful blue tones in the night sky can be achieved by shooting during Astronomical Twilight which is when the sun is between -12 to -18 degrees below the horizon, however the Milky Way will be slightly washed out during this time.  You can find the level of the sun on some great apps that we can use for Night Photography, my favourite one is SkySafari4, but there are many others like PhotoPills, Stellarium (which is free for your PC) and TPE The Photographers Ephemeris.  

Moon Phase -  Knowing the phase of the moon is one of the most important factors in shooting the Milky Way.  It is almost impossible to see the Milky Way during a full moon.  The best time to shoot the stars is during a New Moon or the week before and after.  It is also possible to shoot the Milky Way during other phases of the moon but you need to know when moonrise and moonset is, then you can go out prior to moonrise or after moonset as long as it falls around Astronomical Twilight.  Our Apps will show us the phases of the moon or you can find that information by doing a search on Moon Phases on the internet.

Light Pollution - We will want to find a dark location, far from city lights, for our best chances of capturing the Milky Way.  Dark Sky Finder is a good app to use.  I live in a city of about a million people and find that I need to get at least a 45 minute drive away (to the west, east or south) to get moderately dark skies.  

Seasons -  The seasons will affect what we see in the night sky.  We can see the Milky Way at any time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere but the best and brightest part, the Galactic Core or Galactic Center, is only visible at certain times of the year.  Where I live the best times are between April and October.  

Weather - We can have planned a photo shoot and know all the factors on when and where the Milky Way will be over our subject, but the final deciding factor is the weather.  If we have more than 20% cloud cover we probably won't get any good shots.  A useful resource is the Clear Sky Chart or its app CSC

GEAR

Having the right gear will make a big difference in the quality of your photos.  With all of your gear, you should become comfortable using it in the dark.  You need to know where all the buttons and settings are on your camera without even looking at it.  Someone once said that to get ready for night photography, you should practice in your closet.  

Tripod - We want to use the sturdiest and heaviest tripod we own.  A flimsy or light tripod will move slightly in a light breeze and affect the sharpness of your shot.  The best shots will be achieved if you keep the center of gravity low, so don't raise those center columns!

Remote Shutter Release -  Any camera shake will reduce the quality of your photo, so we will be using a remote shutter release or a shutter release cable.  We might want to use an Intervalometer which will allow us to shoot photos at a regular interval, most Nikon cameras have this as a built in feature.  If you do not have a remote shutter release or cable, you can use the delay timer on your camera body.

Battery - Long exposures will eat up your battery power so carry a few spares with you.

Filters -  UV filters usually catch dew as they trap a layer of air between them and the lens, I recommend that you remove all filters.  I was shooting with someone and he kept saying that he wasn't getting anything on his shots, his settings were all correct and we were kind of stumped as to what was going on.  Finally I saw that he had a polarizing filter on the front of his lens that was blocking out a large percentage of the available light.  NEVER leave your polarizing filter on the lens!  :D

Lens/Hand Warmer -  If you live in a dry climate like I do, dew is likely never going to be an issue.  If you are having issues with dew building on your lens, then you should take some hand warmers with you and attach them to your lens with a rubber band.  If the lens is warmer than the ambient air, dew is less likely to form on your lens.  

Lenses -  For night photography, you will want to invest in a wide and fast lens.  The wider the focal length of your lens, the more of the Milky Way you'll be able to capture in your shot.  Lenses with an aperture of f4 are suitable but f2.8 or less are even better.  Some of the prime lenses of f1.4 or f1.8 tend to be soft and work better when stopped down to f2.0.  My lens of choice is the Rokinon 14mm f2.8 or the Rokinon 24mm f1.4.  Both are manual lenses but we don't use the automatic features of a lens at night anyhow, so these lenses are perfect.  They also sell under the brand name Samyang or Bower. 

Camera Body - I shoot with the Nikon D750, its ability to shoot in low light at high ISOs with little to no noise distortion is amazing.  Whatever camera you choose, you will want it to be relatively noise free at around ISO 2500 preferably up to ISO 3200 or 6400.  I list the camera last in my list of what gear to use because you will likely just use the camera you have until you get bitten by the night photography bug, then you'll upgrade to a camera that produces great noise free images at high ISOs.  

Miscellaneous Gear -  You will need a headlamp or flashlight.  I recommend that you carry a small penlight so that you can check camera settings without illuminating the entire scene.  Many people recommend a red light, so as not to affect your night vision... which would be fine, but the minute we look at our LCD our night vision is affected.  Also if you forget to turn off your red light or someone else is using a red light while you are shooting... it will completely ruin your shot with an unnatural red glow.  Don't forget the bug spray!

SHOOTING

A good starting point for your settings to shoot the Milky Way on a full frame camera with a 14mm lens,  f2.8, ISO 400, 25 seconds.  You can adjust the ISO and shooting time in the field to see the different results. 

Aperture -  We will generally shoot wide open if we have an f2.8 lens.  If you are shooting with a prime f1.4 or f1.8 lens, you will most likely get better results if you stop it down to f2.0, this will help reduce coma and vignetting that can be an issue. 

ISO -  A good ISO for shooting a dark sky would be anywhere between ISO 2500 - 6400.  When shooting during the day, we tend to shoot at the lowest ISO possible to reduce the affects of noise.  However, at night we want as much light to hit our sensor as possible so as to pick up all the little details of the Milky Way so it is best to shoot at a higher ISO.  Noise is also less of an issue in a completely black sky.

Shutter Speed -  We have to be careful with our shutter speeds... if we leave the shutter open too long, the stars will have a little bit of a star trail and the photo will look blurry.  We use the 500 rule at night,  divide 500 by your focal length (full frame sensors) to get your maximum shutter speed.   For example with a 14mm lens.... 500 divided by 14 is roughly 35 seconds.   With a 24mm lens.... 500 divided by 24 is roughly 20 seconds.  If you are using a crop sensor camera divide that number by 1.6 for Canon or 1.5 for Nikons.   For example a Canon crop sensor camera with an 18mm lens.... 500 divided by 18 divided by 1.6 is roughly 17 seconds.  If you are using a mirrorless camera you divide by 2.... mirrorless camera with a 50mm lens.... 500 divided by 50 divided by 2 is 5 seconds.     So with a full frame camera and a 14mm lens we will not want the shutter open for more than 35 seconds or we will start to get star trails.  I tend to subtract ten seconds from that to ensure that I get really sharp images.  So with my Nikon D750 full frame camera and a 14mm lens, I generally only have the shutter open for 25 seconds.  

White Balance -  If we are shooting in RAW (which we should always be doing), then white balance is not really much of an issue.  I shoot in RAW and leave my camera on auto white balance.  If you want to set a manual white balance, it is usually best to set it between 3000 - 4000 Kelvin.  On my Nikon, I get the best results around 3500K.  If you are shooting a time lapse, you will want to set the white balance to manual.

In camera Noise Reduction -  Most cameras have two types of built in noise reduction;  High ISO noise reduction and Long Exposure Noise reduction.  High ISO Noise reduction doesn't affect a RAW file so I disable it to avoid the extra processing time in the camera.  Long Exposure Noise Reduction will double your exposure time.  The camera takes one shot with the shutter open and then immediately takes a second shot with the shutter closed... it then removes any exposed or hot pixels before saving the file to your memory card.  My preference is to turn the Long Exposure Noise Reduction off as well.  

LCD Brightness -  Your LCD will fool you into thinking that your photos are brighter than they actually are, so it is not a good gauge of what you are actually shooting.  Reviewing your photos in the field will also annoy anyone who is shooting around you, so I turn the brightness down to -2 or -3

Focusing -  A sharp focus can be the most difficult thing to achieve in the dark.  Autofocus will not work on dim stars so we have to learn to manually focus at night.  Most people will focus in Live View.  Find the brightest star in the sky and focus on that, zoom in as tight as you can in Live View and adjust the focus until the star is the sharpest.  You can tape the lens with a non-sticky masking tape or make a mental note where the marks are on your focus ring.  After you have been shooting in the dark for a while, you should automatically know where the point is on your lens that has the best focus at infinity.  When I go out to shoot, I just set the focus to the point on the lens that I know is usually in focus.  I then take a test shot and review the shot on the LCD... I'll zoom into a star and see if it is in sharp focus, if it is in focus I just keep shooting... if it is soft I will make a minor adjustment and take another test shot.  Anytime you are shooting at night, it is important that after taking several photos you review a photo and zoom into a star on your LCD to make sure that it is still sharp, you might accidentally jostle the lens and change the focus without knowing it. 

Stacking or blending shots -  I will often take a very long exposure of a scene in order to get the foreground properly exposed, in this 2 or 3 minutes shot the stars will look blurry.  Then I take my 25 second shots to properly shoot the Milky Way.  When I am at home using Photoshop, I can combine or blend the very long exposure shot with the 25 second shot to make a photo that looks properly exposed, both foreground and sky.  So always remember to take a long exposure of the scene so that you can use it in post production.

Composition -  It is hard to properly compose an image in the dark.  I usually look at the scene and decide where I want the edge of the foreground to be in my shot.  Then I'll take my flashlight and paint it back and forth on the ground on that line... as I'm doing that I will compose my shot in my viewfinder.  Then I'll shine the light on the main subject or building that I'm shooting and make sure its in a pleasing location in my shot.  I'm almost ready to shoot!

Leveling your Horizon -  The last thing I do before shooting is make sure that my horizon is level.  Many cameras have an in camera level, so if you have that... use it!  If you don't have that feature, you can purchase an inexpensive bubble level to make sure that your horizons are straight.  You are finally ready to shoot!

 

APPS -  You will take a lot of the guess work out of night photography if you arm yourself with some of the great apps available to us.  I like Stellarium, SkySafari4 and PhotoPills.  With these apps you will enter the GPS location of your shoot and the date and it will show you where the Milky Way will be at any specific time.  So if I'm going out to shoot a certain building, I can punch in the GSP data and then I will know exactly what time the Milky Way will be in the best location over the building.  Stellarium is free to download on your PC and is a good program to start with.

 

 

 

]]>
aerdmann@telus.net (Anita Erdmann Photography) Astrophotography How to Shoot the Milky Way Milky Way Night Photography http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2016/3/how-to-shoot-the-milky-way Fri, 11 Mar 2016 21:41:15 GMT
Iceland is AWESOME! http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2015/3/iceland-is-awesome Iceland is absolutely AWESOME!  It has managed to knock Africa out of first spot as my favourite travel destination, everyone I've told this too is in shock as they know how much I loved travelling to Africa.  How can you go wrong on travelling to a country like Iceland where there are photographic opportunities around every corner and only takes 7 hours to get to from home as opposed to 30 hours to get to Africa!

We spent two nights prior to heading out on the road in Reykjavik.  The population of Iceland is around 300,000 and more than 200,000 people live in and around Reykjavik.  I wandered around on my own a bit and quickly noticed how clean it was and how safe I felt.  There are many beautiful places to photograph in the city... we took a city tour one afternoon and went to all the main tourist places.  The architecture is very unique, Hallgrimskirkja is the largest Lutheran Church in the country and its columns are intended to look the many natural Basalt Columns that appear in the Icelandic landscapes.  The sculpture in front of the Church is of Leifur Eiriksson who discovered America around 1000AD, 500 years before Columbus. The Perlan (Pearl) sits on a hill high above the city and houses a winter garden and exhibition space for concerts and art shows.  Originally the structure was built to store hot thermal spring water which is used to heat homes and businesses.  Apparently on really cold days when they need extra hot water it is funneled down from the tanks on the outside of the Pearl.  The tanks used to be an eyesore on the hill over Reykjavik and it was decided to spruce them up and build the beautiful building that sits there now.  As you are driving around the city you see many sculptures in parks, outside public buildings and around some private homes.

My favourite sculpture is the Sun Voyager, which was unveiled during the 200th anniversary of the founding of the city.  The artist said that the sculpture represents the promise of new and undiscovered territory.  I just think it looks like a Viking Ship heading out on the icy cold waters.

Our first excursion with our guide was to a farm outside the city with lots of abandoned buildings on it.  There are run down cabins, a few barns and houses, some of which may still be occupied.  My favourite structure was 'the Elf House'... a small three foot tall house built into a rock wall.  It probably started life as a dog house but I'm convinced that Elves now live there to get out of the wind.

After two days in the city we met our guide and flew north to Akureyri to begin our trip around Iceland.  Our flight north was delayed by high winds, something that we would experience again and again over the next days.  I don’t think that the weather in Iceland is ever ‘good’, it is neither hot nor cold and the weather can change 10 times in one day.  In February it rarely gets colder than -5C and in summer the temperature hovers around 15C. 

For the first four days we drove west back towards Reykjavik and photographed many beautiful places, we passed through mountain ranges, stopped to photograph and pet Icelandic Horses, saw many waterfalls adorned with huge icicles.  We took at Super Jeep trip up to the highlands, got stuck twice and had to be rescued by the other Jeep in our group and faced the strongest wind I have ever experienced.  We explored the Snaefellsness Peninsula before getting back to the capital city.

After one night in Reykjavik we started our exploration of the Southern Coast.  First seeing all the tourist sights of the Golden Circle. Then beyond to the Skaftafell Glacier region with more waterfalls, farms, old abandoned villages, the lagoon and Iceberg beach at Jokulsarlon, an ice cave and finally the eastern fjords around Hofn and Vestrahorn and then heading back to the west.

 

I came back from Iceland with hundreds of great photos and the desire to go back in another season… maybe June to see the wildflowers?

 

 

]]>
aerdmann@telus.net (Anita Erdmann Photography) Akureyri Black Sand Beach Glacial Lagoon Godafoss Hofn Ice Cave Iceberg Beach Iceland Icelandic Horse Jokulsarlon Perlan Reykjavik Skogafoss Snaefellsness Sun Voyager Vestrahorn Vik Viking Winter farm http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2015/3/iceland-is-awesome Mon, 02 Mar 2015 22:45:13 GMT
Iceland here we come! http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2015/2/iceland-here-we-come Doing the final packing for a winter trip to Iceland!  

As usual the camera gear was all packed and ready to go days ago... you know... "the essentials"!  With 24 hours left before our flight, I'm still struggling on packing the other suitcase.. hiking boots, snow boots, over-boots, ice spikes, down parka, long johns, rain poncho... fleece, wool..... not the usual stuff that I pack for Africa or the Palouse!  Anyhow... it will all be worth it when I start taking those shots!

I'm not sure what we'll see, hoping for Northern Lights but the forecast is for lots of snow so the skies may be too overcast, but we always find something to shoot!  

]]>
aerdmann@telus.net (Anita Erdmann Photography) 2015 Iceland anita erdmann lights northern photography trip winter http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2015/2/iceland-here-we-come Sun, 01 Feb 2015 19:18:02 GMT
Looking back on 2014... http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2015/1/looking-back-on-2014 A few more hours and we will be celebrating the end of 2014 and the beginning of a New Year!   I wanted to take a little while and reflect back on where I've been during the last year.  

Once again, I was blessed with being able to travel to some pretty amazing places.

The year started off fairly slowly, but I was getting ready for a spring trip to Botswana in April.  Roughly two weeks before we were supposed to leave, my good friend and travelling companion was rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy.   It was obvious to Sandi's husband and I that we needed to cancel the trip... which we did without any regret, as the safety and well being of Sandi was way more important than a trip... Botswana would wait for us.  Thankfully we all had travel insurance (don't leave home without it!) and received full refunds and were able to rebook the trip for November.

Now what was I going to do until then... I had itchy feet and needed to find someplace to travel to and take photos.  A friend made the brilliant suggestion that we go to Utah for 10 days in April and photograph the many amazing sites.  Yay... tickets booked, camera bag packed... away I went!

Here are some of my favourite photos from that trip..

We managed to be there just when the wildflowers were in bloom.  

On my trip to Utah, I discovered that my iPhone was able to take some pretty interesting photos when I didn't have a real camera with me.... this was taken during a spring snowstorm on my way to work...

June found me on my 4th trip to the Palouse, this time taking some great people from the Calgary Camera Club with me.  As usual, I relied on Jack Lien  to show us around... here are a few of the places he took us to....

In July I repeated the long drive down to Colfax on my own to participate in Jack Lien's Night Photography workshop.  Not only did we photograph the Milky Way, but the harvest was starting so we were able to photograph that as well.  Jack arranged a trip to his friend's farm so that we could photograph the harvest and ride in the combines, grain trucks and tractors.  Photographing the area at night just opens up a whole new world...

Back in Calgary for the summer, I managed to get out and photograph some of the places around here...

My friend Kay and I traveled to Southeast Alberta looking for Burrowing owls... and found them at the exact GPS coordinates that we were given...

I also took a day trip to the Mountains and shot a few of my favourite photos of the year...

November was when we had rebooked our trip to Botswana which we had to cancel in April.  Sandi, Tom and I witnessed some pretty amazing things in Africa.... like a Cheetah training her 11 month old cubs to hunt...

We spent 4 days in the Kalahari Desert at Nxai Pan Camp IMG_1605.JPGIMG_1605.JPG IMG_1610.JPGIMG_1610.JPG

Then 3 days in the Okavango Delta at the new Kadizora Camp... IMG_1614.JPGIMG_1614.JPG IMG_1634.JPGIMG_1634.JPG IMG_1657.JPGIMG_1657.JPG IMG_1631.JPGIMG_1631.JPG

Then 4 days in the Linyanti area at Lebala Camp.. IMG_1660.JPGIMG_1660.JPG IMG_1677.JPGIMG_1677.JPG IMG_1695.JPGIMG_1695.JPG IMG_1713.JPGIMG_1713.JPG IMG_1763.JPGIMG_1763.JPG

and ended our trip on the Ichobezi Safariboat on the Chobe River which is the border between Botswana and Namibia... IMG_1750.JPGIMG_1750.JPG IMG_1747.JPGIMG_1747.JPG

While in Botswana, I decided to go out of my comfort zone and start taking photos of birds.  Frustrating to say the least.... IMG_1778.JPGIMG_1778.JPG IMG_1724.JPGIMG_1724.JPG IMG_1742.JPGIMG_1742.JPG IMG_1757.JPGIMG_1757.JPG

It was a pretty good year, one that will be hard to top!  I am so thankful for being healthy enough to travel, for all of the wonderful people I traveled with and who I met on my travels... and I am especially thankful to be able to witness all of Gods beautiful creations and the beauty that surrounds us.  I am now looking forward to 2015 and wonder what it has in store for me.........

 

 

]]>
aerdmann@telus.net (Anita Erdmann Photography) 2014 Alberta Botswana Chobe Delta Elephant Ichobezi Kalahari Kwando Linyanti Night Night Photography Okavango Palouse Photography Safariboat Utah Washington africa agriculture anita erdmann aurora farm farming harvest in night northern lights photography review safari wildlife http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2015/1/looking-back-on-2014 Thu, 01 Jan 2015 21:55:53 GMT
Back from Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe..... http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2014/12/back-from-botswana-namibia-and-zimbabwe I'm back from my 2014 trip to Africa and reflecting on all the great things we saw!  As usual we experienced things that we would never have imagined before we left.

Our first camp was in Nxai Pan in the Kalahari Desert.  After dropping off our luggage we had 'high tea' and then went on our first game drive.  We drove near where we had seen Cheetahs the year before.  Our guide looked through his binoculars, exclaimed.. "Cheetahs!" and drove off at break neck speed!  We got closer and saw a fully grown Cheetah chasing a small herd of Springbok... two smaller Cheetahs were trailing further behind.  The mother Cheetah seemed to run effortlessly as the Springbok continued to put distance between them and the big cat.  You could tell the instant that the Cheetah decided on which Springbok she was going to go after...... its like she suddenly turned on some afterburners.  The burst of speed was tremendous and within a few seconds she had closed the gap and was behind a young Sprinkbok.. another second later and the Springbok was down.  The Cheetah lay down next to her kill and waited for her cubs to catch up.  They stood beside her looking down and all of the sudden the Springbok was up and running for its life.  The cubs quickly caught up and pulled the small antelope down again.  I had read earlier that young Cheetah don't instinctively know how to hunt and kill.  We saw an example of this last year and later on this trip... A week old Cheetah was found 4 years ago in Zimbabwe by farmers, its siblings and mother had been killed by lions.  Sylvester was taken to a farm and raised like a domestic cat, at 6 months the farmers decided that having a Cheetah as a housepet was not the best idea.  So they found a home for him at a sanctuary near Victoria Falls... because he wasn't taught to hunt and kill by his mother, Sylvester now goes for his daily walks in the wild and chases animals but once he catches them he doesn't know what to do next.  So our Cheetah family in Nxai Pan was going through a training session on how to hunt and kill its prey.  We watched a fairly brutal display of nature for the next 40 minutes, where the Springbok would run away and get chased down by the young Cheetahs.  Watching this was not for the faint of heart and it was very heart breaking to see the struggles of the young Springbok but nature can be brutal.   I won't post the most graphic images on this blog.. if you want to see the entire story the photos can by found on my website under the Botswana 2014 gallery.  This however is one of the milder photos of the Cheetah family after the Springbok took its last breath..

We also saw all of the regular animals you would expect to see at Nxai Pan including one very injured Honey Badger.  The Honey Badger had a huge chunk taken out of his side.  Sandi felt bad for the poor badger... however, having seen the video of the Honey Badger being bitten by a Cobra and sleeping off the venom, I guessed that the Honey Badger would probably be okay.  We saw the tough little bugger a few days later and the horrible wound on his side was almost completely healed and he was vigorously digging deep holes to find his dinner! IMG_1782.JPGIMG_1782.JPG

We enjoyed seeing the White Desert Elephants and Giraffe drinking at the water hole,  IMG_1600.JPGIMG_1600.JPG IMG_1596.JPGIMG_1596.JPG

Tiny little Steenbok... always a blur, running through deep grass.

The start of the Zebra Migration on our way out to the Baines Baobabs. IMG_1605.JPGIMG_1605.JPG

Huge herds of Sprinkbok, these two males in a sparring match. IMG_1610.JPGIMG_1610.JPG

The beautiful big Baobab trees sprinkled all over the Kalahari. IMG_1613.JPGIMG_1613.JPG

Our next camp was the newest camp in the Okavango Delta, Kadizora Camp.  It had only been open since August and they were still experiencing some very minor growing pains, but the camp manager and staff were extremely accommodating and always eager to get things right.  

Wildlife sightings were plentiful.  Everything from Lions, Leopards, Sable Antelope, Kudu, a herd of thousands of Cape Buffalo, a Zebra with stripes AND spots, and my first ever Carmine Bee Eater and so much more! IMG_1780.JPGIMG_1780.JPG

Juvenile Carmine Bee Eater stealing a meal from its parent.  Greater Kudu, my favourite Antelope.  I love its spiral horns and the coat pattern that looks as though its given a ride to a flock of pigeons.

Lioness on the hunt.  IMG_1657.JPGIMG_1657.JPG

Another Lioness and her mother had just killed a Cape Buffalo, this one left the kill to rest in nearby trees. IMG_1635.JPGIMG_1635.JPG

The older Lioness still gorging herself with food. Leopard high up in a tree.

IMG_1634.JPGIMG_1634.JPG

Young Kudu running

IMG_1626.JPGIMG_1626.JPG

Sable Antelope IMG_1620.JPGIMG_1620.JPG

Strange Zebra with darker coat and spots.  The foal has the same spots as its mother.  IMG_1614.JPGIMG_1614.JPG

Huge thunder clouds that brought storms at night IMG_1616.JPGIMG_1616.JPG

We thought that we saw a lot of wildlife at Kadizora but we saw even more at our next camp in the Linyanti region... Kwando Lebala Camp.  We had a great driver (Roger) and fantastic tracker (Mr Mol).  We were tracking lions in a heavily forested area when we ran out of open ground to continue driving forward on... there was nothing but small trees and big bushes in our way.  Roger said.. "Oh oh.... oh well.... goodbye!" and proceeded to drive over the trees and bushes.  My SUV would have left behind a trail of oil and parts... but the Toyota Land Cruiser just stormed through the bush.  We didn't find the lions that day but the experience of bush whacking was well worth the effort.  We did manage to find the lions the next day and also saw Wild Dogs, more Leopards, birds birds and more birds, Elephants bathing, Red Lechwe, Hippos, etc... IMG_1703.JPGIMG_1703.JPG IMG_1666.JPGIMG_1666.JPG IMG_1680.JPGIMG_1680.JPG IMG_1677.JPGIMG_1677.JPG IMG_1690.JPGIMG_1690.JPG IMG_1689.JPGIMG_1689.JPG IMG_1691.JPGIMG_1691.JPG IMG_1701.JPGIMG_1701.JPG IMG_1718.JPGIMG_1718.JPG IMG_1717.JPGIMG_1717.JPG IMG_1722.JPGIMG_1722.JPG IMG_1721.JPGIMG_1721.JPG IMG_1731.JPGIMG_1731.JPG IMG_1726.JPGIMG_1726.JPG IMG_1764.JPGIMG_1764.JPG IMG_1763.JPGIMG_1763.JPG

Our next camp wasn't actually a camp... instead we spent 3 nights on the Chobe River on the Ichobezi Safariboat.  Our game drives were always on the water in a specially designed boat with swiveling chairs and gimbal mounts for our cameras.  We saw so many more birds, including the tiny Malachite Kingfisher.  Elephants came down to the Chobe to drink and bathe.  I was able to photograph a herd of Impala in the best light ever and one night we almost choked from the smoke of farmers burning their fields of dried grasses in preparation of the coming rains, but the smoke made for a spectacular sunset. IMG_1742.JPGIMG_1742.JPG IMG_1743.JPGIMG_1743.JPG IMG_1749.JPGIMG_1749.JPG IMG_1747.JPGIMG_1747.JPG IMG_1748.JPGIMG_1748.JPG IMG_1744.JPGIMG_1744.JPG IMG_1741.JPGIMG_1741.JPG IMG_1751.JPGIMG_1751.JPG IMG_1757.JPGIMG_1757.JPG IMG_1752.JPGIMG_1752.JPG IMG_1754.JPGIMG_1754.JPG IMG_1758.JPGIMG_1758.JPG

We ended our trip in Victoria Falls, touring the falls and enjoying the Elephant camp and its resident Cheetah (Sylvester).  It was an amazing trip with great friends.... as usual it was difficult to say goodbye to Africa but the next trip is in the planning stages.  Its really true that Africa gets in your blood and will always be calling you back.

 

]]>
aerdmann@telus.net (Anita Erdmann Photography) 2014 Africa Botswana Chobe Delta Ichobezi Kalahari Kwando Linyanti Okavango Safariboat africa anita erdmann night photography safari wildlife http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2014/12/back-from-botswana-namibia-and-zimbabwe Sat, 20 Dec 2014 01:08:05 GMT
Only 19 more days until I leave for Botswana http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2014/10/only-19-more-days-until-i-leave-for-botswana My camera bag is packed and I'm counting the days!  Only 19 more days until I go back to Africa.  

Africa has constantly been in the news showing the suffering of the people in West Africa because of Ebola.  My heart goes out to those people and I hope that they find some way to bring the Ebola crisis under control.  

Friends of mine have asked me if I'm worried about going to Botswana.  Although anything is possible, the possibility of getting Ebola in Botswana is highly unlikely.  The epicenter of the crisis is closer to Europe and Brazil than it is to Botswana.  

The company who put my safari together sent out an email that said, "Its more likely to get eaten by a lion in Botswana than to get Ebola."  When I read that, something that occurred on my last trip to Botswana came to mind.  (No one got eaten by a lion)

It was our first night in Africa on that trip and anyone who has been will understand that the sounds of Africa are very noticeable on your first night!  Where most of the rest of the world goes to sleep at night... the wildlife in Africa comes to life.  I woke up and heard two lions talking to each other far off in the distance.   Every time I woke up, I could hear them and they were getting closer and closer.  Right before dawn the sounds were coming from right next to our tent!!  I've been told that Lions don't like the taste of canvas, so I wasn't overly concerned but my heart started pounding a little bit faster.

The sounds stopped and we started to get ready for our day.  At breakfast we told our drivers that there were lions right next to our tent!!  They chuckled and assured us that it was only the baboons who were in the trees all around us.  Kay and I rolled our eyes and told the drivers... "Uh those weren't baboons!"  I don't think they were convinced.   We packed all of our gear in the Jeep and started out for our first game drive in Botswana!  

To humour us, our driver and tracker drove up to our tent to check for tracks.... they came back somewhat excited and said... "LIONS!"  and we roared off following the tracks!

The tracks went around a big wet area (lots of those in Botswana) and our driver decided to take a short cut.  He told us to get the gear off the floor of the jeep and to sit on the back of the seats?  The short cut was right through the middle of the big wet area..... the water gushed in and covered the floor of the jeep and at one point was almost as high as the top of the door!

We found the tracks on the other side and followed them to where we finally found two lions under a bush snacking on what was left of an old kill.

We watched them crunch the bones for a while until they got bored and moved off.  We followed them for miles...

They eventually went into some deep grass where we heard a bone chilling roar and another sound?  The drivers said... "Leopard" and away we went.  Apparently the lions were chasing after a leopard... in deep grass........ so we only heard the commotion and have no photos... rats!   The tracker found the lion tracks which went one way  and leopard tracks which went another way.  We opted to follow the leopard.  

We found this fellow, nicknamed the "Shy Leopard", and followed him for a while until he disappeared into the tall grasses.  This is the last shot I got of him.

I don't think we will have internet access at most of the camps in Botswana... so I won't be posting any updates or photos until I'm back.

19 more days and I'll be on my way... hopefully many more experiences like this are waiting for us!

 

]]>
aerdmann@telus.net (Anita Erdmann Photography) 2013 Africa Botswana Delta Lions Nxabega Okavango anita erdmann leopard photography roar safari tracking http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2014/10/only-19-more-days-until-i-leave-for-botswana Thu, 30 Oct 2014 19:59:05 GMT
Botswana - Take Two http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2014/10/botswana---take-two Only 35 more days until I leave for my trip to Botswana!  

The trip was originally planned for April of this year, but emergency health concerns of a travelling companion forced us to cancel that trip and rebook for November 2014.  Everything is the same as the cancelled trip except for one camp... and the new camp is even better than the old one.  November in Botswana can offer some dramatic skies with the coming rains... so I hope we get the stormy skies without a lot of rain!

My camera bag is packed! I got rid of the heavy Nikkor 200-400mm this summer and replaced it with a much lighter Tamron 150-600mm... unfortunately my camera bag still tips the scales at around 28lbs.... so I'm going to have to find some other things to leave at home!

I've been to Botswana once before with my friend Kay.  We stayed at the Nxai Pan camp in the Kalahari Desert, so I'm looking forward to going back there and seeing what has changed.  One of the highlights on this trip will be staying on a houseboat while on the Chobe River!  We will venture out by smaller powerboat every day for our game drives and spend the nights floating in our camp on the water!

Can't wait to be back in Africa!

]]>
aerdmann@telus.net (Anita Erdmann Photography) Botswana Chobe Ichobezi Kalahari Kwando Linyanti Nxai Pan Okavango Safariboat africa anita erdmann photography safari travel wildlife http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2014/10/botswana---take-two Mon, 13 Oct 2014 20:38:11 GMT
The Palouse at Night http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2014/7/the-palouse-at-night I recently went back to the Palouse to participate in a Night Photography Workshop with Jack Lien of Palouse Country Photo Tours.  By day we photographed the rolling hills, the old buildings and everything else that you would expect to photograph in the Palouse.  At night a whole new world opened up for us.  

Here are some of my favourite images from the trip...

]]>
aerdmann@telus.net (Anita Erdmann Photography) 2014 Milky Way Night Photography Washington agriculture anita erdmann night palouse http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2014/7/the-palouse-at-night Wed, 30 Jul 2014 09:48:13 GMT
The View from Above - Steptoe Butte http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2014/7/the-view-from-above---steptoe-butte Steptoe Butte is a 3612 foot quartzite butte that looms 1000 feet over the Palouse.  There is a road that winds around the butte all the way to the top, where they say that the eye can see for 200 miles in any direction.  Most days you can see photographers stopped at various points along the road with their cameras mounted on sturdy tripods... some photographers have a confused look on their faces, there is so much to see that its hard to decide what to focus your lens on.  The light changes from morning to night, changing the look from one minute to the next of the shadows and highlights on the rolling hills below.  

Here are some photos, taken over a period of three years.... in different seasons and at different times of day.

From Steptoe Butte - The Palouse, WashingtonFrom Steptoe Butte - The Palouse, Washington

]]>
aerdmann@telus.net (Anita Erdmann Photography) 2014 Palouse Steptoe Butte Washington agriculture anita erdmann butte farm farming green harvest hills season steptoe http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2014/7/the-view-from-above---steptoe-butte Fri, 18 Jul 2014 07:12:44 GMT
Homestead on the Palouse http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2014/7/homestead-on-the-palouse I just spent a week in the Palouse with several members and friends of the Calgary Camera Club.  It was my fourth time photographing the Palouse and each time I go, the colours and light are different.    

One of our stops was the old Weber Homestead.  We spoke to the family who owns the land which the much photographed old Homestead sits on, they were absolutely shocked when I told them that I had seen a photo of that house and because of it had done some research and learned about the Palouse.... and then decided that I needed to go and photograph the old buildings and the beautiful landscapes.  It is incomprehensible  to them, why people would want to come from all over the world to photograph their old run down house.  

Unfortunately, some photographers haven't been very respectful of the house and their property.  Some photographers have stomped down their crops (their income) to get closer to the house.  They've entered the house, even though there are no trespassing signs on it and someone has taken items out of the house... including the corner post on the front porch.  The owners are worried about their liability if someone goes into the house, which is falling apart, and injures themselves.  They said that to protect themselves from any potential liability, they have considered tearing the house down.  If you are going to photograph the house, please respect their property.... don't trespass and don't damage their crops.  If we don't respect their property, we are going to lose this old house as a photographic subject!

They told us some interesting things about the house.  The land has been in their family for 5 generations.  The original house was a small log home and then the house that we see now has been built around it.  The logs remain in the walls of the middle section of the house.  On the far right is a smaller structure which is a summer kitchen, with temperatures soaring above 100 degrees in the summer... many farmers built a kitchen apart from the house in order to keep the main house cooler.  If there was a kitchen fire, there was a better chance of saving the main house and only losing the summer kitchen.  They said that there is an upstairs window and they are assuming that there is a room there... but they can't find the entrance to the room.  They think that it was a 'panic room or safe room', if indians came... the family could hide in the room while the house was being gone through and then come back down when it was safe.  

I'm going back to the Palouse in a few days to photograph the area at night... hopefully we get permission to photograph this beautiful old house!

 

]]>
aerdmann@telus.net (Anita Erdmann Photography) 2014 June Palouse Weber House agriculture anita erdmann daisies farm farming homestead house landscape weber http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2014/7/homestead-on-the-palouse Wed, 16 Jul 2014 20:09:49 GMT
Utah http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2014/6/utah Coming soon.... details and photos of my recent trip to Utah

]]>
aerdmann@telus.net (Anita Erdmann Photography) http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2014/6/utah Mon, 16 Jun 2014 16:25:22 GMT
Utah Wildflowers http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2014/5/utah-wildflowers I was extremely lucky on my recent trip to Utah, to have been there at the same time that some of the wildflowers were blooming.  The first indication was on our way to Torrey, when we came upon this field of purple.

On our way to Monument Valley we found a small field that was like a wildflower garden, with many different varieties.

Some other flowers that we found along side the road.

3N2A01533N2A0153

On the Schafer Trail coming out of Canyonlands National Park.

Paintbrush in Arches National Park.

20161007-_DSC111920161007-_DSC1119

]]>
aerdmann@telus.net (Anita Erdmann Photography) Paintbrush Utah Wildflowers anita erdmann cactus flowers http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2014/5/utah-wildflowers Sat, 10 May 2014 19:16:51 GMT
All is not lost and looking forward to Utah! http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2014/3/Utah I learned first hand, the importance of Travel Insurance.

My friends Sandi and Tom were going to accompany me on a trip to Botswana.  Everything was paid for, our bags were almost packed and we were in 100% cancellation penalty.  Sandi started to have pains in her abdomen and was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, less than three weeks before we were supposed to leave Canada.

Had we not all had Travel Insurance, we would have had to forfeit the money we paid for the trip.  Sandi and Tom are covered in case of cancellation due to medical reasons... and because we were all travelling together and have the same insurance, I am covered as well.  

Thankfully Sandi is on the mend and we are in the process of re-booking the trip to Botswana for November of this year.  So when you book your next trip... consider also purchasing Travel Insurance.  I wouldn't leave home without it AND my Nikon!  (I purchase my insurance from gary@traveltime.ca)

 

In the mean time, I will be going to Utah in April to photograph the stunning landscapes in Monument Valley, Arches National Park, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef... etc etc.  I'm very excited about this trip, as I've never been anyplace with these kinds of Landscapes.  My travelling companion has set out a very busy itinerary... I'm expecting to come home with thousands of new photos!  (Here is one from the trip)

 

 

 

]]>
aerdmann@telus.net (Anita Erdmann Photography) Botswana Monument Valley Utah anita erdmann travel insurance http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2014/3/Utah Mon, 24 Mar 2014 00:24:45 GMT
Back to the Palouse! http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2014/1/back-to-the-palouse So where am I going in 2014?   My first trip is the big one to Botswana in March.... but it seems as though I've made a habit of going to the Palouse... so as with all bad habits... I'm going back to the Palouse in 2014!  

I have already been to the Palouse 3 times... and can't wait to get back.  The area is chocked full of beautiful spots for all sorts of amazing landscape photography.  I love the place so much that I wanted to share it with other photographers I know.  I suggested that perhaps the Calgary Camera Club might want to take a field trip there and we are set to go at the end of June.  Should be fun!

I will also be going back for some night photography of the Palouse... I LOVE night photography and can't think of a more unique place to photography the night skies.  So in late July, I'll be taking the 12 hour drive back down south to shoot the Milky Way over the rolling hills and abandoned barns of the Palouse!  Can't hardly wait!

Here are some photos of my past trips....  

What we'll do to get the shot.... We were watching a crop duster soaring and diving over the hills in the Palouse. We moved down the road a bit so that we would get out of his way and he could continuWhat we'll do to get the shot.... We were watching a crop duster soaring and diving over the hills in the Palouse. We moved down the road a bit so that we would get out of his way and he could continu From Steptoe Butte - The Palouse, WashingtonFrom Steptoe Butte - The Palouse, Washington

 

]]>
aerdmann@telus.net (Anita Erdmann Photography) Anita Erdmann Palouse Photography Washington abandoned barns crop duster milky way rolling hills http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2014/1/back-to-the-palouse Fri, 31 Jan 2014 20:20:01 GMT
Northern Lights and how to Shoot them! http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2014/1/northern-lights-and-how-to-shoot-them Northern Lights are the result of the collision of electrically charged particles from the sun as they strike molecules in the Earth's atmosphere.  When all of these particles collide, they light up.  The different colours of light are result of the different gases in the atmosphere.  When oxygen is excited it gives off the green light and nitrogen will give off the reds, purples and blues.  

Generally, scientists and astronomers can predict when the Northern Lights are likely to occur.  They know when a mass of these electrically charged particles erupt from a sunspot on the surface of the Sun... this is called a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) and it causes a Solar Wind.  For us to see the Northern Lights, the CME has to be directed towards earth.  It generally takes around 40 hours for the wind to travel the 150 million kilometers to Earth!   When the solar flare is very strong, we can often see the magically dancing curtains of light... when the flare is weaker we tend to only see bands of colour on the horizon.

A few days ago, the sun had a very large Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) that spewed these electrically charged particles towards earth.... scientists predicted that we would be able to see a very strong display of Northern Lights.... possibly as far south as the Oregon.  However, as with all weather... sometimes the predictions are wrong.  This time the magnetic field from the solar wind did not line up properly with the magnetic field of the Earth.

The best tools we have that predict Northern Lights are the following websites.  You can sign up for "Aurora Alerts" on two of the websites... they will email you a Yellow Alert when the Northern Lights are likely to occur in a few hours and then they will email you a Red Alert when the Northern Lights are actually visible.

  • www.aurorawatch.ca    is a website from Edmonton and is one that you can use to sign up for alerts.
  • www.auroraforecast.gi.alaska.edu  also sends out alerts and shows maps with the forecasted activity and the current activity
  • www.spaceweather.com  has all sorts of information about all different kinds of space activity.  They show the current Auroral Oval from NOAA/POES  and when you see Red over the portion of the map that is Calgary... its time to go look outside!  They also show the Planetary K Index.  As the number in the K Index increases, the edge of the visible Aurora has moved further South.  For us to see it in Calgary, we need to have a Kp=4 and we will see the Northern Lights low on the horizon.  Kp=5 will be a display overhead and Kp=9 is a full blown storm which will display the Northern Lights as far south as the mid to southern States!

So that is a brief explanation of the Northern Lights.... now how do we photograph them and what equipment do we need?

  • Sturdy Tripod
  • A Fast, Wide Angle Lens with an aperture of at least f2.8
  • Cable Release or Remote Release will come in handy
  • Flashlight or headlamp

​I usually set up the camera at home where its nice and warm and I can see what I'm doing without the use of a flashlight.  I'll even mount the camera on the tripod before I leave the house.  Make sure you remove all filters from the front of your lens.  You then need to do the following

  • Set your ISO.  Depending on your camera and how much noise you have at higher ISOs will depend on what ISO you set it to.  I generally set it to an ISO of 800 or higher.  With a point and shoot or a lower-grade camera you may have to set it to 200 -400 and then you will have to use longer exposure times. 
  • Turn off your "High ISO Noise Reduction" and "Long Exposure Noise Reduction"   If you leave this on, you will have to wait between exposures for your camera to churn through its Noise Reduction procedures.  Plus on occasion, I have seen where the camera confuses stars with noise and it will try to blend the stars, which just results in a blurry mess.
  • If possible, shoot in RAW
  • Set your camera to Manual.  
  • Set your Aperture wide, to as low an f-stop as your lens will allow.  (smallest number... hopefully f2.8 or lower)
  • Set your Exposure Time to anywhere between 5 - 25 seconds.  You will have to check your image on the LCD screen, if it is too dark increase the exposure time... if it is too bright decrease the exposure time.  I usually put the camera on BULB and use my Cable Release to start the shot... and then I just count to myself and stop the shot at 10 seconds, I look at the photo and then adjust my count accordingly.
  • Turn off your Auto Focus.  If you leave the autofocus on during a long exposure, the lens may hunt for focus resulting in a blurry photo.
  • Focus on Infinity.  Its best to experiment with this during the day so that you can see where your lens gives you the best focus.  I'm lucky to have a lens that is sharp when I set the focus using the 'infinity symbol'.
  • Compose your image and click away!

Remember that the Northern Lights may be extremely faint to the naked eye, but they will look great in a photo.  The camera's sensor has a much higher dynamic range for colour at night than the human eye does.  So if you're not sure if those are Northern Lights or not... take a photo and look at your Screen.

Now sign up for those Aurora Alerts and get out there and have fun shooting the Northern Lights!

 

   

 

 

]]>
aerdmann@telus.net (Anita Erdmann Photography) Alberta Calgary How to How to photograph the Aurora Night Night Photography anita erdmann aurora how to photograph the northern lights northern lights photograph http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2014/1/northern-lights-and-how-to-shoot-them Fri, 10 Jan 2014 23:37:08 GMT
My Favourite Moments of 2013 http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2014/1/my-favourite-moments-of-2013 Almost every photographer I know has posted their top photos of 2013.... as Ansel Adams said, "Twelve significant photos in one year is a good crop."  I don't think that I've taken 12 significant photos, but I've taken some photos that mean a lot to me!  So these aren't my 'top' photos... but they're photos that remind me of the highlights of my photographic journeys in 2013.  I had a LOT of Favourite Moments... 2013 was a very good year!!  Thank you God!!  

For the first adventure.......Kay, my good friend and co-worker at Travel Time, came to me in December of 2012 and said, "Do you want to go to Botswana??!!"  Well who in their right mind would not want to go to Botswana!  Within a week the two of us were booked on an &Beyond Familiarization trip of Botswana.  Kay spent the next few days trying to find ways to make the trip even better... so we added some days at the end of the trip at a camp in the Kalahari Desert.

   ....... So here are some of my favourite moments and 'firsts' from my trip to Botswana.....

My first time flying in a small plane (more like a tin can powered by a lawnmower engine)...

Seeing the beauty of the Okavango Delta from the air.....

After 36 hours of flying half way around the world... being treated to a bush dinner in the middle of nowhere under a canopy of stars!

Hearing the roar of lions all night as they came closer and closer to our camp, finally passing just meters from our tent.... and in the morning tracking them through the delta and driving in water that almost came to the top of the jeeps doors!

Finally finding them...

..... and then following the shy leopard that they chased through the tall grasses....

Seeing animals that I'd never seen before........ like the pretty Red Lechwe

.... Kudo.... with their spiral horns and a pattern on their back that looks as though they've given some pigeons a ride... KudoKudo

...... the Sable Antelope with their freakishly curved horns!...

.... Oryx with their long, straight horns and interesting coat patterns (yes we saw Cheetahs too!)........

...... The teenie, tiny little Steenbok, with the pretty pattern in their ears (they're only about 20 inches tall at the shoulder).....

....... large numbers of Springbok in the Kalahari Desert....

... this thing..... and I have no idea what it is, maybe we found a new species (probably not).....................

..... one of my super-highlights was seeing Honey Badgers, the bad-ass of Africa...... one was even snacking on a frog...

..... the other super-highlight was seeing the critically endangered African Wild Dogs (less than 700 in Botswana and only around 4000 left worldwide).  One of the ladies on our trip said, "They're ugly... I got a picture... lets go!"   I wanted to slug her and thankfully our driver didn't share her opinion.... we were able to enjoy the pack until it was time to go back to camp.

We saw a bunch of birds... Kay, the birder, could probably tell you what each one was.... my favorite was the Malachite King Fisher (tiny little bird)... and the second favourite was the Little Bee Eater which I had seen before in Tanzania ....

I saw an Oxpecker go up the nose of a Giraffe, the Giraffe didn't seem to mind....

..... I saw a baby hippo!

.... We managed to glimpse a sighting of an Elephant or two......... 

...... seriously....... we saw a LOT of Elephants!!  Botswana has the largest population of Elephants on the continent, due to the conservation efforts of Botswana!   Their Military has set up a task force that ruthlessly deals with poachers.  YAY BOTSWANA!!!   

We saw Elephants happily cavorting in the Chobe River!

We saw a baby stuck on a log......... he managed to free himself after about 3 minutes...

We saw big happy families of Elephants at the waters edge.......

We saw them dust-bathing....

...... Mud-bathing.......... 

..... and just plain bathing..........

My suggestion is.... that if you are not fond of Elephants...... don't go to Botswana!! (and please unfriend me on Facebook, because I don't care to know anyone who doesn't like Elephants!)

We also drove for hours and hours across the Kalahari Desert.....

To stand under the Baines Baobab Trees!  A group of 7 huge Baobab trees, immortalized by my camera and the famous painting by Thomas Baines (Prince Charles also stood here and painted them)...   These trees are still relatively young at just over 2000 years.... we saw an older tree that was around 4000 years old.  

I learned that Ostrich will come from far and wide.... and all lay their eggs in one nest.  Then they run off and leave one poor couple of Ostrich to hatch and raise all their kids....... 

We saw the parents who left.... doing their Happy Dance....

We saw the smoke that thunders.......... Victoria Falls!

We petted a Cheetah.... I think that Kay was ready to take him home!  (Sylvester was orphaned and taken in by Wild Horizons)

And we saw the most spectacular Sunsets and Sunrises on Earth.... 

Stuck close to home for a month or two and photographed the Northern Lights...

 

My next photographic opportunity was to take photos of the cutest baby animals at Triple D in Kalispell at a Paul Burwell Wildlife Photography Workshop.....

      Red Fox Kit

Bobcat Kittens

Playful little Wolf Pups

and a baby Tiger!

I also photographed the endangered Snow Leopard

This is what Aryaa thinks of you.. Jennifer Lopez!

...and the even more endangered Amur Leopard (there are less than 40 left in the wild... and less than 300 in captivity).  Just seeing an animal that is on the brink of extinction is kind of moving... being able to photograph one is amazing!  Kupalo is perhaps the most photogenic animal I have had the pleasure to take pictures of!

Having one stalk you is pretty special too!

 

From Triple D Game Farm I drove to Colfax Washington to photograph the Palouse at one of Shutterbug Photo Tour Workshops! www.shutterbugphototours.com

We went out one night to do some Night Photography!  On the way to the location I got an "Aurora Alert" on my cellphone... but what are the chances of seeing the Northern Lights THAT FAR South?!   We were photographing this.....

When I turned around and thought I saw something..... So I told the group that I was going to photograph the Northern Lights now.... and they all giggled and laughed at the crazy Canadian!!  I took a few shots and exclaimed, "Oh look.... Northern Lights!!"  Everyone quickly spun their cameras around when they looked at my viewfinder and saw this.....

The story was picked up and shown on the front page of the area newspaper.... 

We photographed a Canola Field which was really spectacular....

Here are a few more favourites from that trip.....   as always, great times with Shutterbug photo tours!

Perhaps my favourite shot from this trip is the crop duster flying past the REO Speedwagon Truck..........

Back in Alberta, I found out that its fun to shoot a Rodeo.....

I stumbled upon an airshow...

Found out how we get "Canola Oil" in Alberta (not really)......

Photographed the McDougall Church near Morley in pitch black darkness with the amazing Nikon D800E (in raw).... and got this......

In early August I went back to the Palouse for the Harvest Tour.... I couldn't believe that in a little over a month the Palouse went from vibrant greens to this....

Photographed one of my favorite barns....

..... and some dirt.......................

Got invited to the Onecho Bible Church Harvest Bee!  One of their members passed away and donated his land to the Church with the stipulation that they had to plant, tend and harvest the fields..... and then use the money to support mission work worldwide.

I got to ride in a combine!!!

And then ride in a grain truck down to the Snake River, where the grain gets loaded onto barges and taken to Portland before being sold and shipped to China......

Some more shots of the Harvest Bee....

And the harvest in the rest of the Palouse....

Went to Banff with a friend.....

His dog, Rico, was the star with the Japanese tourists.....

In September I was invited by my friend Marg Wood, to join a group she was taking to Triple D in Kalispell Montana.  I got to photograph Kupalo the spectacular Amur Leopard again.......

Bruno played to the camera.... 

Hershey, the Tiger cub, had grown a bit.....

.... and the rest of the critters put on a pretty good show as well......

I photographed some of the harvest in Alberta...

In September, High River was the site of the Canadian Hot Air Balloon Championships.  They held an event called "Night Glow" that I thought sounded kind of fun!   I took a bunch of photos of the glowing balloons.....

This one was on the evening news, got over 50,000 views on Flickr..... and will be on the front cover of the High River and area Yellow Pages in 2014.....

In early October, I took my dog Zoe out before going to bed.... the skies over Calgary were bristling with Northern Lights!  I had never seen the lights so bright that they could be seen through all the light pollution in the city..... I quickly drove a short distance north of Calgary.  In my excitement I guess I didn't tighten the camera to the tripod correctly, as I turned towards the car to get a flashlight I heard a mighty crash!  Out of the corner of my eye I could see my Nikon D800E and the heavy Tokina 16-28mm bounce once and then land on the hard pavement.  I picked them up... dusted the camera off.... and flicked a piece of plastic off of the lens and photographed this (made the news the next day on two channels)......

Okay.... we're coming to the end of my photographic adventures in 2013.  The last set of photos were taken on a trip arranged by Lynn Webber for the Calgary Camera Club.  We got up extremely early on a Saturday morning in October to drive into the foothills west of Sundre to look for the 'Wild Horses of Alberta'.  The dirt roads up there would be easy to get lost on... after some searching with our guide Dave at Blue Sky Tours, we were delighted to find these beautiful creatures...... Photographed West of Sundre with Dave from www.albertablueskytours.com Photographed West of Sundre with Dave from www.albertablueskytours.com Photographed West of Sundre with Dave from www.albertablueskytours.com Photographed West of Sundre with Dave from www.albertablueskytours.com

These were my favourite moments with a camera in 2013.  I look forward to what 2014 has in store for me and my Nikon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

]]>
aerdmann@telus.net (Anita Erdmann Photography) 2013 Kalahari Shutterbug Photo Tour Shutterbug Photo Tours Shutterbug Photo Workshop a year in review africa air show alberta amur amur leopard anita anita erdmann aurora balloon balloon glow botswana elephant erdmann farm farming favourite harvest harvest bee horse hot air balloon night night glow northern lights palouse rodeo triple d game farm wild wild horse wildlife http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2014/1/my-favourite-moments-of-2013 Sat, 04 Jan 2014 23:19:30 GMT
Botswana 2014 http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2013/12/botswana-2014  

My first major trip in 2014 will be to Botswana.  I was there in March of 2013 with my friend Kay and loved it so much that I knew I had to go back... this time I will be going with Sandi and Tom from Edson, who were with me in Tanzania in 2012.

We leave Calgary in mid-March and fly to Johannesburg for one night and then on to Maun, Botswana.  This is where the fun starts... we'll board a small plane and fly into the Kalahari Desert for 4 nights at Nxai Pan Camp.

I stayed at Nxai Pan Camp at the end of my trip to Botswana in 2013, where we saw the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets... we watched huge elephants, their trunks swinging back and forth as they lumbered across the desert towards one of only two watering holes in the area.  We saw large herds of Springbok, tiny little Steenbok, herds of Oryx... Lions, Cheetah and most everything else that you would expect to see in Africa.  I look forward to seeing the staff again, who took great care of us and made us feel like family.

From the dry Kalahari, we fly into the lush Okavango Delta for three nights in the Kwara Concession at the Kwara Tented Camp. Where this past year we learned that Toyotas do indeed double as a watercraft!

 From there we fly to the Linyanti region and the Kwando Concession with hope of seeing the African Wild Dog.

After four nights in the Linyanti region we take flight again and head to the Chobe River where we will spend 3 nights on the Ichobezi Safari Houseboat.  Our days will be spent cruising up and down the Chobe in smaller boats, looking for animals as they come down to the water to drink.  The Chobe is known for its huge Elephant population and we expect to see many at the waters edge, playing and grazing on the lush green grasses.  

Our final stop before flying home will be The Elephant Camp in Victoria Falls.  Hopefully we'll get the opportunity to walk with Sylvester, the Cheetah at the Wild Horizons Animal Orphanage. 

]]>
aerdmann@telus.net (Anita Erdmann Photography) 2014 Africa Anita Boat Botswana Camp Cheetah Chobe Delta Desert Elephant Erdmann Falls Ichobezi Kalahari Kwando Kwara Linyanti Nxai Okavango Pan Photography River Safari Safariboat Sunset Victoria http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2013/12/botswana-2014 Fri, 27 Dec 2013 05:46:34 GMT
Night Glow http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2013/10/night-glow

High River was hosting the 2013 Hot Air Balloon Championships and on Friday evening they had planned to have a Night Glow event in a small field behind the Recreation Center, an area that was under water a few months ago due to the severe flooding in Southern Alberta.  They say that almost 1000 people came out to watch.. there was also a good contingent of photographers there, lining the fences getting ready to photograph the beautiful bright coloured balloons.  The competitors brought 12 balloons onto the field and slowly inflated them.  At one point it just looked like a huge jumble of balloons.  Once they were inflated, they took down the fence and let people wander around. 

 

I posted these photos on Facebook and a wedding photographer friend of mine told me that he just saw some that an Associated Press photographer had taken that were on some of the online newspapers.  He inflated my ego by telling me that he thought mine were better and that I needed to start marketing myself.  On a whim, I sent four of my photos to Global News and surprisingly, got a response that they would like to use them on the evening news!!  The news anchor talked a little bit about the Balloon Races and the Night Glow while they showed my photos in the background! 

 

I guess the words that Sean Phillips told us at the Calgary Camera Club meeting a  few nights earlier during his presentation were true...... “Just do it!!”  

 

 

I also posted one of the photos on Flickr.... I was shocked when I looked at it roughly 30 hours later and it had over 30,000 views!  As of today almost 48,000 have viewed the photo.  I guess what they say is true.... people like bright shiny objects!

 

   

 

]]>
aerdmann@telus.net (Anita Erdmann Photography) 2013 Alberta Canadian Hot Air Balloon Championship High River Night hot air balloon night glow http://www.anitaerdmann.com/blog/2013/10/night-glow Thu, 03 Oct 2013 09:17:32 GMT