Anita Erdmann Photography: Blog en-us (C) Anita Erdmann Photography [email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:06:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:06:00 GMT Anita Erdmann Photography: Blog 80 120 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



[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Death Valley", "sand dunes", desert, "Night photography", astrophotography, Rokinon, Fuji Fujifilm X-T2 anita erdmann photography Fri, 14 Apr 2017 21:59:12 GMT
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.

[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Banff Fuji Fujifilm Fujifilm X-T2 Fujinon Fujinon 10-24mm Nikon Nikon to Fuji Switch Winter X-T2 Tue, 21 Mar 2017 20:26:12 GMT
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!


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


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!


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.




[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Astrophotography How to Shoot the Milky Way Milky Way Night Photography Fri, 11 Mar 2016 21:41:15 GMT
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?



[email protected] (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 Mon, 02 Mar 2015 22:45:13 GMT
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!  

[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) 2015 Iceland anita erdmann lights northern photography trip winter Sun, 01 Feb 2015 19:18:02 GMT
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.........



[email protected] (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 Thu, 01 Jan 2015 21:55:53 GMT
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.


Young Kudu running


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.


[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) 2014 Africa Botswana Chobe Delta Ichobezi Kalahari Kwando Linyanti Okavango Safariboat africa anita erdmann night photography safari wildlife Sat, 20 Dec 2014 01:08:05 GMT
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!


[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) 2013 Africa Botswana Delta Lions Nxabega Okavango anita erdmann leopard photography roar safari tracking Thu, 30 Oct 2014 19:59:05 GMT
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!

[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Botswana Chobe Ichobezi Kalahari Kwando Linyanti Nxai Pan Okavango Safariboat africa anita erdmann photography safari travel wildlife Mon, 13 Oct 2014 20:38:11 GMT
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...

[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) 2014 Milky Way Night Photography Washington agriculture anita erdmann night palouse Wed, 30 Jul 2014 09:48:13 GMT
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

[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) 2014 Palouse Steptoe Butte Washington agriculture anita erdmann butte farm farming green harvest hills season steptoe Fri, 18 Jul 2014 07:12:44 GMT
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!


[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) 2014 June Palouse Weber House agriculture anita erdmann daisies farm farming homestead house landscape weber Wed, 16 Jul 2014 20:09:49 GMT
Utah Coming soon.... details and photos of my recent trip to Utah

[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Mon, 16 Jun 2014 16:25:22 GMT
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.

On the Schafer Trail coming out of Canyonlands National Park.

Paintbrush in Arches National Park.


[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Paintbrush Utah Wildflowers anita erdmann cactus flowers Sat, 10 May 2014 19:16:51 GMT
All is not lost and looking forward to 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 [email protected])


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)




[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Botswana Monument Valley Utah anita erdmann travel insurance Mon, 24 Mar 2014 00:24:45 GMT
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


[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Anita Erdmann Palouse Photography Washington abandoned barns crop duster milky way rolling hills Fri, 31 Jan 2014 20:20:01 GMT
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.

  •    is a website from Edmonton and is one that you can use to sign up for alerts.
  •  also sends out alerts and shows maps with the forecasted activity and the current activity
  •  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!





[email protected] (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 Fri, 10 Jan 2014 23:37:08 GMT
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!

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 Photographed West of Sundre with Dave from Photographed West of Sundre with Dave from Photographed West of Sundre with Dave from

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







[email protected] (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 Sat, 04 Jan 2014 23:19:30 GMT
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. 

[email protected] (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 Fri, 27 Dec 2013 05:46:34 GMT
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!




[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) 2013 Alberta Canadian Hot Air Balloon Championship High River Night hot air balloon night glow Thu, 03 Oct 2013 09:17:32 GMT
Ethics in Photography I can't hardly believe the conversation I had with someone on Facebook.... I probably shouldn't be surprised actually!

I had been following a fellow photographer who had some very nice images of captive animals.  People were liking his photos, as they should because many of them were spectacular.... but some people would question him and ask how on earth he was able to get shots like those of cougars jumping from one rock to another in Canyonlands, Utah.  He'd reply that he was known as the 'Cat Whisperer' etc.

He admitted to me in a private post that the particular photo in question was with a 'handler' and made some excuse about having "clients who become edgy if they think that his shots are of captive animals... and considering that 95% of his shots are of wild animals, he can't afford to lose those three clients who would then begin suspecting everything."  ?? 

Then I saw him post this on the photo that he just admitted to me in private... was of a captive animal with a handler controlling said animal,

"I was actually stalking him, from above, There is a previous image posted. Waited for an image against the Monti LaSal Mountains. When he got to that point I stood my ground to see if he would go back to do the jump he had done in the distance going the other way. Had Bear Spray and a 357 and enough room to get out of his way. He did back off and went back but in the meantime ended up above me on the slick rock about half way there. That part was a little foolish as in my haste I did put myself in danger."

When I read that, I laughed out loud and almost choked on my soda!! At no point was he stalking the mountain lion, he was most probably in a group with several other photographers. The animal trainer was most likely encouraging the mountain lion to jump back and forth from rock to rock with either treats or a lure toy. Had the photographer brought bear spray or a '357' to the photo shoot, the trainer would most likely have asked him to pack his bags and go home. Also, there is probably NEVER enough room to get out of the way of an actual wild cougar! (what a doofus) At no time did he 'put himself in danger'.... because the trainers number one concern is safety, for both the photographers and the animals in their care! His sensational story... was just that a sensational 'story'!

I just think that the ethical thing to do is post that an animal is either captive or that its a controlled situation.  If you have clients who don't agree with photographing captive animals, then I'd make the decision to either not shoot captive animals .. or to be okay with losing them as clients.... I wouldn't lie or make up a good story!  Because I always post that an animal is from a game farm... no one would ever need to question my honesty!

There are wildlife photographers who actually spend weeks out in the wild, tracking animals... kudos for the dedication and hard work that goes into their photography and for getting shots of actual wild life.  Shame on the photographer who claims to be doing the same thing and takes credit for doing the same thing, but actually just drove up to a filming location and waited for the animal to be brought to him.

Personally, I don't have the time, energy or skill to be able to track a mountain lion in the wild... I'm a weekend photographer.  I originally went to a wildlife photography workshop at Triple D Game Farm with Paul Burwell because I was planning a trip to Africa and wanted to learn how to shoot wildlife properly.  Over that weekend, not only did I learn how to compose a pleasing photo and countless other things from Paul, I completely enjoyed photographing wildlife in natural locations, exhibiting natural behaviours.  I know that my chances of photographing a mountain lion in the wild are extremely slim because even if I saw one, by the time I got over the shock and had my camera focused in his direction... we would be long gone because that is the nature of wild cats. And what are my chances of shooting an Amur Leopard in the wild, when there are less than 40 left?  So I have gone to shoot captive animals at the same place that National Geographic and Nature go to film.  I go to Triple D because they are respectable and take care of their animals properly.  They give me the opportunity to safely photograph these beautiful and endangered animals... I come back with hundreds of photos which I can share with friends and strangers alike.... and hopefully because they see the beauty in the animal, they decide that wildlife needs to be respected and conserved.   I'm not trying to pat myself on the back here... but I choose to always post the photos and let people know where they were shot, because I think its the right thing to do.  I stand behind my photos for what they actually are and feel no need to lie or make up a big story to help stroke my ego.  

Its a shame that the photographer in question has beautiful photos... but I'll never be able to look at them with any degree of respect again.  

So there is my rant on ethics!

Photo of an Amur Leopard at Triple D Game Farm, Montana  ©Anita Erdmann 2013:

Amur Leopard, Triple D Game Farm MontanaLess than 40 of these Leopards exist in the wild and this beautiful cat is one of less than 300 in captivity.

[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Thu, 19 Sep 2013 23:14:12 GMT
Palouse during Harvest I spent the first week in August in the Palouse to photograph the harvest.  I was stunned as I drove into the area, 5 weeks earlier the entire region was covered in vivid shades of green... now, as far as the eye could see there was nothing but golden ripe crops!  We were extremely fortunate to be invited to a Harvest Bee where we all got to ride in the huge expensive Combines and then drive down to the river in the grain trucks where they unloaded the wheat at the grain elevator.  It was very interesting to be able to talk to the farmers and learn a little bit of what they do.  Here are some of my favourite photos, more can be found in the Gallery "Palouse Harvest 2013"

[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Thu, 15 Aug 2013 19:14:17 GMT
Canadian High School Rodeo Finals I spent the afternoon in Nanton, watching the Canadian High School Rodeo Finals.  Unlike the Calgary Stampede, where the action takes place hundreds of feet away... in Nanton we were treated to a rodeo up close and personal!  I had to dodge the clumps of dirt that the horses were kicking up as they stormed past.  I never knew that photographing a rodeo would be so much fun!  

[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Sat, 27 Jul 2013 09:13:04 GMT
Whats next? Well I'm going back to the Palouse .... Yes, back to the Palouse at the beginning of August for photos of the Harvest and hopefully a Harvest Bee!  more photos to come....

[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Sun, 07 Jul 2013 01:49:22 GMT
My photo makes the front page of the Whitman County Gazette!

[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Sun, 07 Jul 2013 01:48:02 GMT
From Kalispell I drive to the Palouse After loading my hyperdrive with thousands of photos of cute baby animals, I drove 6 hours to Eastern Washington.  My destination was Colfax, in the heart of the rolling hills of the Palouse.  I'd spend the next 5 days photographing this image rich area.  

I came away with thousands more photos including some night shots of the Milky Way AND the Northern Lights!!

Here is a small sampling of the photos.....

[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Sun, 07 Jul 2013 01:46:16 GMT
Kalispell in June 2013 I am spending 5 days in Kalispell on a wildlife photography workshop at Triple D Game Farm with Paul Burwell...... here are some of the shots I've come away with....


[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Sun, 07 Jul 2013 01:37:54 GMT
Goodbye Botswana.... until we meet again Like all good trips, this one had to come to an end.  We had a long journey home... from the time we left our camp, flew to Maun in a light aircraft, flew to Johannesburg and on to London.... then London to Calgary........... we had spent 38 hours travelling.  

People have asked me to compare Botswana to Tanzania.... and there is no comparison.  I think we found game in Tanzania because you only had to look for a congregation of Jeeps to find something good, in Botswana it was harder to find the game but once you did you were there alone with the creature and able to watch its natural behaviours.  Botswana was a much more intimate experience.

Will I go back?  I'm already planning for the next trip in 2014...... I can't wait to be back in Africa!!


[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Sun, 07 Jul 2013 01:28:48 GMT
Day Twelve to Fifteen - Nxai Pan Camp, Kalahari Desert Flying to the Kalahari the green of the Delta was giving way to brown parched landscapes, we flew over several small salt pans before finally coming to our landing strip.

We were met by Timber and KP who took us on a dusty drive to our lodge.  The lodge is the only permanent camp in Nxai Pan National Park and faces out over one of only two watering holes in the park.  We were welcomed to the camp and given a quick briefing.  They asked us to shower as long as we wanted and to turn the water on at least 10 minutes prior to showering.... to get the hot water to our 'tent' and because all the shower and wash water goes out to the watering hole for the elephants.

After freshening up and a snack of quiche, we were asked what we wanted to see.  Kay and I would both like to see Cheetah on this trip... so we answered with a resounding, "CHEETAH!!".  Well, they said that they would see what they could do and off we went.

We drove around the park and saw Elephants, one Zebra, hundreds of Springbok and what was that under that bush?!  Two Cheetah!!  We were patient and waited a long time before they decided to get up and come our way... we were lucky enough to have them cross right in front of our Jeep before they dashed off into the distance.  Day one at Nxai Pan and we had seen our Cheetah!

Dinner was served family style and there was a lot to choose from, everything was delicious.... I don't think we really had a bad meal in Botswana.

We were awoken every morning at 5:30, then everyone went to the main lodge for muffins and tea around the fire pit at 6:00am . While we were enjoying the freshly baked muffins we heard two lions roaring in the distance.

We left camp at 6:30 and went in the direction of the roars. Our jeep rounded a corner and there was a magnificent male lion on the road. Another one was running into the thicket. As soon as the first one noticed us, he ran into the bush as well. We managed to get some decent photos of him as he seemed intent on keeping an eye on us. Eventually both lions moved into deeper brush.

We then went looking for our Cheetahs. We saw several Jackals and Bat Earred Fox a long distance away. Some Springbok were running and there were Oryx in the distance. Laying in the shade of a bush were our two Cheetahs, brother and sister, about two years old. We patiently waited and they eventually got up and made a big circle around the Oryx.

At about 10am we went to a water hole, there are only two in the area..... One in front of our lodge, fed by all the grey water.... the other is some miles away and also fed by a borehole.

We watched Springbock, Impala, Wildebeest and Ostrich cautiously come to drink. On our way back to camp we stopped under some trees for tea and a snack.

Brunch was waiting for us when we returned. There was some kind of tasty beef casserole, pork sausage, bacon, rice, beans, fresh sweet bread and eggs made to order. Meal number three. "I lost weight on my safari.", said no one ever!

We're resting now in our cool rooms with full bellies, imitating the lions and at 2:30 we're going to the Baines Baobabs which is a four hour round trip on bumpy, sandy roads. I'm betting that we will have meal number four when we get there!

We went to the Baobab Trees, which Baines found and painted in 1862, one hundred years before I was born. The trees are estimated to be between 2500 - 4000 years old. Standing in the middle of them and realizing that they were here before Christ, is kind of surreal.

Meal number four was served on the Nxai Pan salt flats right in front of the trees. Our guide, Timber, seemed offended when I declined.... so I ended up taking the smallest sandwich in the basket.

On our way home we spotted the same lions that we had seen this morning. They were far less shy, but the light was not good..... so I blinded the poor beasts with my flash. I hope they don't hold a grudge.

Dinner was awesome.... Gazpacho soup, really tender roast beef, scalloped potatoes, mixed veggies and purple cabbage. Meal number five ended with cheesecake.

We managed to roll down the boardwalk to our rooms and now it's time for bed. Wake up at 5:30..... game drive at 6:30.

[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Sun, 07 Jul 2013 01:23:57 GMT
Day Eleven - The Elephant Camp, Victoria Falls more to come....

[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Sun, 07 Jul 2013 01:10:30 GMT
Day Nine and Ten - Chobe Serondela more to come....

[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Sun, 07 Jul 2013 01:09:50 GMT
Day Seven and Eight - Chobe Savute More to come....

[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Sun, 07 Jul 2013 01:09:01 GMT
Day Five and Six - Moremi Game Reserve More to come....

[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Sun, 07 Jul 2013 01:08:20 GMT
Day Three and Four - Nxabega Tented Camp Day Three and Four were spent at an &Beyond Explorer camp.  Kay thinks that we're really roughing it... but it pretty much has all the amenities of the other camps.  Each tent actually has two tents with a tented courtyard between them.  The main tent is the sleeping area, it has two beds with Egyptian Cotton sheets and comfy duvets.  Next you go into the 'courtyard' area which has an open air bucket shower and wash stand with basin.  Attached to that is a tent with a flush toilet.  We thought that we would run out of water during the showers, but the bucket has enough in it for both of us and enough left over for even another shower or two.  Roughing it?  Probably not!



We enjoyed game drives and a boat trip through the tall reeds of the Okavango Delta.  The highlight of the boat trip was probably the Malachite Kingfisher who sat on a reed and let us photograph him.  He was just a tiny little bird, very colourful and cute!


[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Sat, 06 Jul 2013 22:37:37 GMT
Day Two in Botswana - Game Drives with Bee All through the night I listened to the deep low roar of lions. As the night wore on, the roars seemed to be getting closer and closer. At 5am, just before our wake up call, I heard the lions right outside our tent.

Someone came and knocked on our door and we started to get ready for the day.

After breakfast we met with Bee and the other ladies for a game drive. We told Bee about the lions but he insisted that the sound was likely just baboons.  To humour us, he and our tracker, drove near our tent to look for tracks. Sure enough he found fresh tracks and we raced across the fields in search of our lions. We spent about half an hour following the tracks on the sandy roads, our guides would get out few minutes and look to the tracks. We drove over rocks and logs, through deep streams that flooded our jeep... the river crossings were a ton of fun!


They thought we were getting closer and we rounded a tree to find two male lions sharing an old kill.

We watched the lions from about ten feet as they chomped on every last rotting bone of a male Impala. When there was nothing left they got up and started to walk away. We followed the lions for about two hours, getting many good shots.

We watched the boys become very alert and rush into some deep grass and then we heard a scuffle and a mighty roar. Bee yelled, that's a Leopard roar and he zoomed off in that direction. He drove over logs and through deep ruts at warp speed to get to the Leopard. We spotted him running away in some deep grass. We got a few shots before he finally disappeared across the marsh.

We enjoyed lunch at the camp and then were taken to the airstrip to meet the rest of our &Beyond Botswana Explorer group. We waited in the shade and watched the plane land. Jakes, our guide, was on the flight.... along with Kenny and Peter from Florida.... and Christin and Yannette from California. We all loaded into the jeeps and went to our first tented camp.

[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Sat, 06 Jul 2013 21:55:54 GMT
Botswana Day One We've arrived at our first camp after about 40 hours of travelling.  Calgary to London (11 hour layover), London to Johannesburg (5 hour layover), Johannesburg to Maun where we were met by an &Beyond staff member... then Maun to Nxabega in a tiny four seater plane (glorified tin can with a lawn-mower engine!).  

We were taken to our tent and given 45 minutes to freshen up before our first game drive.  We saw a lot of the normal animals you'd expect to see in Africa.... none of the carnivores, but we still had 13 days to go.

Our driver, Bee, stopped near a HUGE termite mound and set up a table with a table cloth upon which he placed an almost full bar and lots of treats.  We had a cold drink and watched our first African Sunset on this trip.  The colours at sunset in Africa are like none other I've ever seen.  Once the sun disappeared we got back into the Landrover and made our way back to camp by spotlight. 

In the distance we could see the glow of a blazing bonfire.  The entire area was surrounded by lanterns on poles.  As we came closer we saw that there were many tables set up, all with fine linens and china.  There was a bush kitchen with a BBQ and buffet table.... we were greeted by people handing out warm washcloths and cold drinks.



We made our way to the tables... and looked up.  This wasn't a 5 star bush meal............ it was a million star bush meal!  I've never seen so many stars twinkling above our heads... the Milky Way was brighter and looked like a giant cloud in the dark sky.

We were asked to come to get our dinner.  We started with a delicious soup, followed by steaks, scalloped potatoes and vegetables.  We finished off with a delicious dessert.

What a way to start our Safari experience.... a fabulous meal out in the middle of the African bush under a canopy of stars.  After dinner we were taken back to camp for some much needed sleep.

During the night I could hear hippos in the distance... and the low roar of lions far in the distance.  As the night wore on the lions roars became louder as they slowly made their way towards our camp.

We were awoken at 5:15 by the sounds of lions that seemed to be right behind our tents.  Our wake-up 'knock knock' came at 5:30 at which time we showered and got ready for the day.  At breakfast we met our driver Bee and told him that we'd heard lions in camp.  He chuckled and said that it was only the baboons.  Sorry... but those were no baboons!



[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Sat, 20 Apr 2013 20:35:47 GMT
Botswana - Whats next What's next?  Back to Africa!!  Botswana in April 2013!!

A coworker and I are going to Botswana in April.  We will be visiting the following areas:  Nxabega, Moremi, Chobe - Savute, Chobe - Serondela and the Victoria Falls.  We have 4 days at the end of the trip that we haven't finalized yet.. we're trying to find something a little out of the ordinary in the Nxai Pan area.

As we are traveling between most camps by small airplane our luggage is limited to on 20kg/44lbs.  Which might seem like a lot until you take the weight of camera gear into consideration!  I weighed my camera bag and without all the battery chargers, power converters and my Ipad... it came to 32lbs... so that only leaves 12lbs for clothing.  I guess I won't be taking a change of shoes... some of the girls in my office would say that I have my priorities backwards. 

So stay tuned.... I hope to bring back loads of good photos!


[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Tue, 15 Jan 2013 18:59:17 GMT
Moving my website My old website provider (Smugmug) has decided to Mug its customers and double their prices without providing any extra services or value... they've actually had service issues over the last few months that have infuriated many of its customers.  I'd accept a slight increase in price.... but double... seriously?!  So I looked around for other options... Zenfolio... $30 less per year than what I was paying now, same or better features and WAY easier to use.  I set up a trial website in under 2 hours. They have an easy to use function that took all my photos from the old website and saved them to Zenfolio... after I hit the move button it took about 2 hours and all my photos were in a folder on the new site.  Another button moved the blog... that only took about 5 minutes.  They've pretty much thought of everything.  So far this is my new website     I'm going to take my time and clean up the galleries and then I'll move it to my domain at   Goodbye Smugmug..... Hello Zenfolio!

[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Sat, 01 Sep 2012 18:40:56 GMT
Whats next?
So, if everything goes well I will be in the Palouse region of Washington State between June 12 and 17th. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!
[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Thu, 12 Apr 2012 14:15:00 GMT
March 4 - I'm home!
Here are a few more of my favourite photos of the trip...
[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Wed, 11 Apr 2012 12:06:00 GMT
March 1 - Ngorongoro Crater
We got an early start to the day and descended into Ngorongoro Crater which was blanketed with thick fog. We passed a large group of Water Buffalo grazing in the fog. The crater is roughly 20 miles across and is considered a conservation area… it is also one of the last places where you might be able to see Rhino.

Almost as soon as we got to the crater floor the fog lifted and we had our first sighting of the day…. Two young lions who attempted in vain to hunt a Zebra. The Zebra saw the lions without any difficulty and ran away. Soon after, a large pride of lions came over a little hill and the two young ones ran over and eagerly greeted everyone.
They all came to the road and used the cars as camouflage to hide from another herd of Zebras. One of the larger females was probably a decent hunter but most of the other lions in the pride were young and dumb… so every time she attempted to sneak up on a Zebra, a young lion would show itself and the Zebras would run away. The lioness eventually gave up and they all lay down in the grass to snooze.
We also saw two sets of two large males…. One group was feasting on a wildebeest… the other had eaten most of a zebra and were flat on their sides sleeping. One of the males lifted his head and we could see what a magnificant creature he was... he had a huge beautiful mane!
There were elephants, zebras, wildebeest, water buffalo, jackals, lions, impala, gazelle and hyenas in the crater. We had hoped to see a Rhino so that we could say that we saw all of the big five… and off in the distance we saw a big lump that everyone was driving past.

I told Harry to stop because I thought they were Rhinos... sure enough when we looked through our binoculars and long lenses we saw two huge Rhinos grazing with some wildebeests. There are only 12 of these amazing creatures in the crater so we were very lucky to see them.

After a long day in the crater we drove to a Maasai Boma and had a tour of their village and watched them do their traditional dancing and jumping. They showed us how they lived and explained their culture to us. A man's wealth is counted by the number of cattle he has. If he has many cattle he can trade 10 to 15 of them in exchange to the father of a woman and she will become his new wife. The Maasai can have as many wives as they want. The chief of this village had 8 wives and 53 children. He could lounge around all day and talk with the other elders while his young male children tended his herds and his wives gathered wood for the fires and brought water from miles away for the cleaning, drinking and cooking. He probably talked to the other elders about trading his female children for more cows. I guess its good to be a Maasai man... not so good to be a Maasai woman!

Our eye opening visit to the village was a great way to end the day!

Tomorrow we will go to Lake Manyara and have our last game drive before returning home.

Its been an amazing trip and although its always sad to end a vacation… its always good to come home too.
[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Wed, 11 Apr 2012 12:05:00 GMT
February 29 - Ndutu to Ngorongoro
This morning we met our driver and he informed us that the camp that we were supposed to go to, on the rim of the Ngorongoro crater, had moved overnight to about a mile from where we had just spent the last 3 nights. It had moved there to be closer to the migration… but having already seen that we just wanted to be in Ngorongoro and the drive there would take over 3.5 hours each way... which would only leave about an hour in the crater for game drives.

Harry suggested that we get his office to find us another lodge at the crater…

So we drove off in the direction of Ngorongoro … not exactly knowing where we would be spending the night or even knowing if there would be rooms available for us… but things have a way of working themselves out so I decided not to stress out about it.

We were crossing over the wide open desolate plains of Ndutu and we passed over this little ridge when we heard a loud thump…. Then the jeep made a funny dragging sort of sound and Harry announced, “Flat tire” and stopped the jeep. He got out and looked and came back to the jeep with a serious look on his face and told us that it was not very good. A rock had sheered off the U-bolt on the back axle. We looked around to check for hyenas, lions, cheetahs etc.. none were to be seen so we all went out to examine the carnage! The back of the jeep was sagging down and the leaf spring, the spring and all sorts of other stuff was hanging down where it shouldn’t have been. This day had quickly gone from bad to worse.

You could tell that Harry was upset… we’ve all got the sense that he doesn’t want to let us down. He grabbed his cellphone and walked about a half a mile down the dirt track… he was probably swearing the entire way. We hoped that he was coming back!!

When he finally got back to us he said that the closest company jeep was in Arusha (4 hours away) and that they would be sending the parts to fix our jeep and a mechanic … once the new jeep got to us (in 4 hours) we would transfer our stuff into that and go to the crater in the mean time we would just have to be patient and wait.

We waited on the hot wide open desolate plains… wondering if we’d succumb to hunger, thirst or lions…. We were probably being a little bit melodramatic since we had huge boxed lunches and a cooler full of cold water… death by lion was probably not very likely either. Thankfully there were no tse-tse flies here like there were every other place we stopped. At noon we dove into our boxed lunches and Sandi kept us entertained with a lot of funny stories. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather be stranded with other than Sandi and Tom.

After about two hours of not seeing anything except for the wildlife moving in closer and closer... we saw the dust cloud of an approaching jeep.. it slowed down to see what was wrong and Harry convinced the occupants to take us back to Ndutu Safari Lodge so that we could wait in comfort. We piled into a jeep being driven by Tito with some nice people from Holland… we had a nice conversation with them and finally got back to the lodge we had just left. The people at Ndutu Safari Lodge welcomed us back with open arms. They offered us lunch, they let me use the phone over and over again… they even sent their mechanic out to see if he could help. We relaxed in the covered verandah drinking cold drinks until Harry came back with another jeep and a new driver.

The driver was going to take us to the crater while Harry and the lodge mechanic got the parts they needed out of the lodge garage and went back to fix our broken car.

On the way to the crater we passed our saggy jeep and right about then the clouds opened up and it started to rain harder than I’ve ever seen it rain… even harder than the other night at Mbalageti. When it decides to rain in Africa it really rains. The windows of our jeep fogged up so bad that you couldn’t see outside, even if there was no fog inside it was raining so hard that I doubt we could have seen through the water on the outside… but our driver sped on. I was sure that we’d hit a zebra or gazelle since they were all running around joyfully in the rain and Mario Andreti couldn’t really see where he was going.

The rain eventually stopped but we knew that Harry would have a hard time fixing the jeep in what would now be a giant mud bog… Tom said that it wouldn’t be an easy fix in a garage let alone on muddy ground. Harry later told us that they had to build a dam around the jeep so that the water was diverted around it.

After about 4 hours of driving we got to the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge… on the road very close to the lodge we saw a large female lion… she went into the grass next to us and lay down, we could have reached out and touched her. She roared a few times and I decided that considering the day we’ve had, it would probably be wise to close the window. We took a bunch of photos of her and continued on.

A mile from our lodge we had another incredible sighting… a leopard ran out in front of our car and then dove into the trees. We watched him watch us in the dense brush and then finally continued on.

We are at a very nice warm cozy lodge now… it overlooks the crater, the view is mind bending. Dinner was great. While we were poking around in the gift shop Harry came around the corner... I was so glad to see his smiling face, we were all relieved that he made it here and he was safe! Now I’m going to bed, safe and sound after our days adventure… we’re leaving on our game drive at 6:30am.
[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Wed, 11 Apr 2012 11:51:00 GMT
February 28 - Ndutu day three
Last night after midnight the camp was awoken by the roars of a lion, a large pride had passed in front of our camp while we were all sleeping.

This morning we had a nice warm breakfast and then we went off in search of wildlife. Harry drove towards the big marsh and we quickly spotted a pair of Bat-eared Foxes playing around a shrub. We drove further and saw two young foxes right beside the road, napping at the opening of their den. In the distance we could see two more fox families.. they blend so perfectly with the colour of the ground that if they weren’t moving you probably wouldn’t see them. Their ears are absolutely HUGE, every now and then the sleeping foxes would give us a quizical look and then go back to sleep.

Further down the road we saw two young jackals, the sun was glistening on their beautifully coloured coats.

We drove around the marsh and then up into the plains, before too long we spotted a group of 4 jeeps clustered around a tree so we slowly made our way towards them. As we got neared we could see a large female lion resting in the shade of the tree and sprawled out in the grass around her were three adorable little cubs!

The cubs alternated between snoozing in the shade and looking wide-eyed at all the jeeps and commotion around them. As usual, the cameras were blazing. The mother lion occasionally opened an eye to see that her babies were okay.

After a while one of the babies went over to mom and wanted to nurse…. She snarled at the little cub and we all got a good look at her 4 inch fangs! After much snarling she finally allowed the cub to nurse and the other two came over and joined their littermate.

Once their little tummies were full they strode off into the grass to rest. One of the little babies stayed out in front and looked so regal as he watched over his littermates and mother.
Harry continued on and we saw more jeeps on the horizon… as we got closer we could see three full grown cheetahs. It looked as though they were out hunting. One of the big cats had a pretty bad limp and a swollen ankle but he managed to keep up with the other two. There really was nothing for them to hunt so they slowly made their way towards a shade tree.

We came back to the lodge for lunch… Chicken tangene, couscous, chuckula chuckula and tossed salad …. Followed by papaya sorbet for dessert. Noboody is going to lose weight on a safari.

We’ll go out again this afternoon until sunset and see what other wildlife we can find.

We decided to go back to see the lioness with the three young cubs. We found her where we had left her, this time she was out in the open and the cubs were a little bit more active. We watched them play for about 20 minutes and then the lioness decided to get up and move away. As she walked away we noticed that she was limping and had a big gash on the inside of her leg and a puncture wound on the outside. Life is not easy here even for the mightiest beast. I pray that her leg heals so that she can continue to provide for her 3 beautiful babies.

We just returned from our afternoon game drive. Since coming to Africa the only time I would have complained about dust was during our drive on the Serengeti highway up to the northern part of our trip, since then we’ve managed to follow the rains and the ground was always damp. It rained in Ndutu the day before we arrived so the driving conditions were fine until this morning… on our morning drive we noticed that the dust was quite heavy but Harry said that this was nothing. The day has been hot, so this evening the dust was even worse than before…. Any slight breeze would kick up a huge cloud. However, according to Harry this still wasn’t that bad. I enjoyed a nice shower with Ndutu lake well water which is extremely high in soda… so even when you’ve rinsed all the soap off, it still feels as though you need to rinse some more. You can’t drink the water but the occasional drop that touched my tongue tastes just like baking soda.

Tomorrow we go to Ngorongoro crater… hopefully we’ll see the only animal on our lists that we haven’t seen yet… the Rhino. I don’t think that our next camp has the internet, so this may be my last message until I get home.
[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Wed, 11 Apr 2012 11:39:00 GMT
February 27 - Ndutu day two This morning we went in search of a Cheetah… one of the guests had told me that they saw one yesterday in a wide open field about 15 minutes from our lodge. Harry’s intel from one of the drivers was that there were Cheetahs down by a marsh… so we headed off in that direction.

After driving for about an hour we didn’t see anything but some birds and a deer hiding in the reeds… so we made our way back towards camp.

We stopped at the rangers station and used the washroom while Harry asked where the Cheetahs were. The toilets were 'lovely' holes in the cement floor… but beggars can’t be chosers!
The rangers told us to go 8km down a dirt path and we might see something. Eventually we came to a huge open grassy field and saw 3 jeeps in the distance… this was a good sign! When we got there we saw a large Cheetah and 4 cheeky kittens!! The mother started to head off into the distance towards two young impalas while we babysat her cubs.
She lowered her head and every move of her body had purpose. The impalas walked right past her… she let the first one walk by and as the second one walked only a few feet in front of her she sprang into action. The chase only lasted about 7 seconds… the impala zigged and zagged a few times but the Cheetah closed in with each stride… the end was very quick.
As soon as the impala was down… every jeep in the vicinity raced off towards the cheetah… I was worried that someone would run over the babies but thankfully that didn’t happen.

The mother dragged her kill nearer to the babies and then lay down in some taller grass to catch her breath. The 4 babies were about 100 feet away not once taking their eyes off their mother. She lay there for about 5 minutes before making two chirping sounds… at which the cubs ran straight towards her.
We watched for about 30 minites as she dragged her kill to try to find some shade. Each time she dropped it near a jeep… the jeep would start up and drive away from her. We watched her getting more frustrated and decided that after shooting our 2000 photos it would probably be best to drive away and try to give this little family a little bit more peace.
I believe that when I think of this trip, seeing this beautiful family of Cheetahs will probably remain as my most vivid memory of Africa.
[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Wed, 11 Apr 2012 11:33:00 GMT
February 26 - Serengeti , Mbalageti to Ndutu The storm lasted less than 2 hours but as we left our camp this morning to make our way to Ndutu it quickly became evident that the one road in and out had turned into a 16km long mud bog.. we got stuck once but managed to get out after much backing up and lurching forward. I was slightly worried that the river might have become impassable… during heavy rains, the safari jeeps have to park on the one side of the river and guests have to cross the crocodile and hippo filled river using a rope bridge… then another jeep comes to take you the rest of the way. There was more water in the river than the night before but thankfully we were able to drive through! In the middle of the river we saw a Baboon trying to comfort her frightened little baby... the mother had a look on her face that must be universal amongst mothers.
Harry drove back through the central Serengeti and where we had seen a 50,000 wildebeest and zebra a few days earlier… all we saw was wide open empty grasslands. We could hear the drivers talking to each other over their radios asking, “Where is the migration!?! Our clients are complaining!” We were obviously very lucky to have been there to witness it earlier! Harry made his way to the leopard tree and we weren’t disappointed when we saw a leopard high in the branches with a fresh kill. After a few minutes he stood up and began walking across the branch and then down the trunk of the acacia tree. It sounded like machine gun fire as every camera in the 20 or so jeeps sprang into action… shutters were blazing! The big cat disappeared into the deep grass and we got ready to leave when Sandi shouted that he was on the road behind us! En mass… all the jeeps tried to get the best spots near his new tree. We stayed and got a few more shots but the leopard soon fell asleep on his branch and all you could see were his legs swaying in the breeze.
So Harry said, “Lets go find you some lions!” and away we went. We drove a fair distance, stopping once to take photos of a large bird with a poofy crown on his head (the name escapes me right now) and then drove until we saw the line of jeeps on a small hill. We got a good spot and could see a large male lion nearly completely hidden in the grass. We patiently waited and had our boxed lunches… hoping the smell of salami sandwiches and pasta salad would waken the slumbering beast. All of the sudden a female lion rose out of the grass and strode towards the male. He got up to meet her and after a short exchange she lay down in the grass and he mounted her and did what male lions do! Exhausted from his 10 seconds of lovemaking, he once again flopped down in the grass. We figured that this was the last we’d see of the pair so we began to drive away… but wait…. There was another male and female a little further down the road! While we were waiting for these two to show themselves… the first pair got up and started to head towards the road across the field. We sped to where they now were and got to see them in relatively short grass next to the road. What an amazing sight to see the large male with his long mane blowing in the wind only a few feet from us… it’s a picture I won’t soon forget!
We had to leave sooner than we had hoped because our permit to be in the Serengeti was going to expire in 1.5 hours.. so we had to make our way to Ndutu. We managed to get to the main gate and leave the Serengeti with about a minute to spare and then drove off onto a dirt road towards our new camp.
This area is overflowing with wildlife! We saw thousands of Thompson Gazelle with cute little newborn babies. There were huge Storks and the heaviest bird that can fly (a Kory Bustard or something like that..)
We passed two young and fuzzy hyenas…. Then an older and very pregnant looking hyena... the young ones are cute but the older one just looks nasty! We saw two young jackals…. they ran alongside our jeep and then crossed infront of us. There were Impalas and Grants Gazelles.. a few wildebeest and some zebras. Then in the distance we saw four jeeps grouped together which probably meant that there was another big cat. We went to join them and wow…. A pride of 8 lions fast asleep! The jeeps slowly drove around the cats… we were no more than 10 feet away from some of them with our windows wide open. But they couldn’t have cared less… nothing was going to wake them from their naps!

After getting a couple hundred shots of sleeping lions we drove on to our camp.

We passed a group of giraffes….. not 3 or 4 like we had seen elsewhere… rather 20 or 30! All sizes with many little babies. In the distance we saw a water buffalo.

As we turned into the parking area of our lodge we saw 4 little Dik diks…. Two adults and two young ones. For those who don’t know… a Dik dik is a very very small deer.. they’re only about 16 inches tall.

They welcomed us to the camp with delicious iced tea and then took us to our comfortable stone cottages overlooking Lake Masek. While we were talking on our verandah before dinner…. 3 more Dik diks walked by and then a golden bat flew out in front of us. I think we’ve hit the wildlife jackpot here in Ndutu.

When we entered the main building for dinner we saw two Genet Cats in the rafters… I guess they’ve become residents here and help to keep the rodent and bug population down. So we had a nice dinner of lamb while the Genets prowled overhead!

Time for bed now…. Tomorrow we’ll see what else Ndutu has in store for us… hopefully we’ll be able to spot a Cheetah!
[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Wed, 11 Apr 2012 11:25:00 GMT
February 25 - Serengeti , Mbalageti
This morning at breakfast I told the manager, "There is a mouse in my room.... do you think someone could get rid of it?!?........" She gave me a funny look and said that she would see what they could do..... while I was eating breakfast I realized how dumb I must have sounded to her, this is Africa... we're living in tents surrounded by wildlife! Get over it!
We enjoyed a nice breakfast on the hillside verandah overlooking the Serengeti Plains. We watched the Zebra grazing and rolling in the wet grass.

Today we went on two game drives... we saw cheetah tracks but no cheetah. There are not as many Wildebeest here but we still saw lots of wildlife. On our way back to the camp after our afternoon game drive I got a nice shot of an African sunset.

We witnessed the full force of nature on our last night in the Serengeti at Mbalageti. While we ate dinner on a verandah overlooking a wide open valley we watched a huge thunder cloud approach from the west… the flashes of lightning lit up the night sky. Another storm was also coming in from the east. After we finished dinner we sat and spoke to the staff for a while and then decided that we should probably head back to our tents or risk getting soaked. I hadn’t even closed the door before the skies opened and it started to pour. As both of the storms started to converge the thunder and lightning became more and more violent… there were a few strikes that shook the mountain that our camp was on. I watched the flashes of lightning through my tent screen windows and then fell asleep under a warm and cozy duvet in my canopy bed.
[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Wed, 11 Apr 2012 11:17:00 GMT
February 24 - Serengeti , Mbuzu Mawe to Mbalageti
Today we drove out of the Central Serengeti towards our next stop at Mbalageti. Sandi spotted some Jackal pups and while we were photographing those, Tom spotted two lions resting on rock cliffs…. What an amazing sight! Lions seem to always be working hard on sleeping, I think that its safe to say that they sleep 22 hours of the day.

We saw many more animals… Water bucks, wildebeest, zebra, elephants, giraffe, gazelle, impala, water buffalo… and many more whose names I can’t remember. We saw a crocodile who must have just recently killed a zebra… he was still floating around in the water carrying the carcass in his jaws. I think I’ve taken about 20,000 photos so far… Harry laughs and says that it sounds like machine gun fire when Sandi and I are taking photos!
We hardly passed any jeeps on our way to Mbalageti… I thought that we were out in the middle of nowhere when we were at Mbuze Mawe but now we are really out in the middle of nowhere. Our camp is at the top of a hill… and you can see the Serengeti 360degrees around us. Our tents are absolutely beautiful again… here there is one rock wall and the other walls are canvas. Something just ran across the top of my tent, its dark outside so you can’t really see whats making all the sounds … I guess I better locate the whistle before the lights go out (They give you a whistle so that you can call the Maasai Warriors in case of emergency). Its probably just a small monkey or maybe a small baboon. We have real Maasai guards with sharp spears who are patrolling right outside so I feel safe.

Anyhow.. I better get to sleep… tomorrow will be another long day of game drives in this part of the Serengeti!
[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Wed, 11 Apr 2012 10:48:00 GMT
February 23 - Serengeti (Mbuzu Mawe)
Harry spotted two leopards near a river... it took me a while to figure out where they were.. but sure enough there was a mother and her yearling baby walking off through the grass. Then we came to a hippo pool and next to it was a pool with 3 crocodiles in it. One of the crocodiles was sunbathing in the sand... its mouth was wide open and you could see all its sharp teeth.

Around 10:30 we met up with our certified ballooners! Both Sandi and Tom were beaming! They saw a snaking line of the great migration from the sky. They had a few tense moments when their balloon crashed into the top of a tree.... but other than that they had a great time!

We drove to see the migration............ words cannot describe the scene that was laid out before us. There were probably 50,000 or more Wildebeest and Zebra stretched out for as far as the eye could see. They were moving in a steady, mindless forward motion... not even stopping to graze. As the heat of the day began to rise... the huge herd broke into smaller herds, each one grouping together under whatever shade tree they could find. No photo that I took could accurately show what we saw.

Prior to this trip I didn’t really know that the wildebeest and zebra travel together during the migration. The zebra are the smarter of the two creatures and they are supposed to be able to sense/smell the rains…. So they lead the way and the wildebeests follow.

We went back to were the leopard was yesterday and today we found him up in a tree. He was snoozing and occasionally moved to try to get more comfortable. He had stowed a dead impala in a tree a few 100 feet away.

Our final stop of the day was a giant hippo pool.... you can pretty much smell a hippo pool way before you see it. We got out a took photos of the gigantic beasts sleeping in the water... every now and then they would flip their tails and shoot out a stream of poop. The girl who sung that she wanted a hippopatumus for Christmas obviously didn't see and smell what we did!!

We're back at our beautiful camp now... we've all showered and are going to wander up to the dining hall for dinner.

We're all still doing good and enjoying every amazing sight, sound and smell (except for the smell of the hippo pools) here in Africa!
[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Wed, 11 Apr 2012 10:41:00 GMT
February 22 - Tarangire to Serengeti (Mbuzu Mawe)
Once we got nearer to our camp, Harry our driver, drove towards were he had heard that there was a leopard. We lined up with about 40 other jeeps and looked in the direction of a large Acacia tree... apparently the leopard had been there earlier but now he was hiding someplace in the deep grass.

We drove further and saw a herd of hippos sleeping in a muddy pool. There was a cute little baby who had crawled up onto his mothers neck and fallen asleep. One of the hippos was standing at the side of the pond and making loud angry hippo noises... we got a good look at the inside of his mouth, UGH! We passed many more animals... until we saw the highlight of the day. Near a watering hole there was a large pride of lions... between 13 and 18 of them... most of them were laying on their sides snoozing with a belly full of zebra. A couple of the lions were behind a bush fighting for a zebra leg... one of them let out a mighty roar that sent a chill up my spine. We stayed and watched them for about 45 minutes and then continued on to our camp.

We arrived here just after dark and were led up to reception and then on to our tents. The tents are amazing!! Tiled floors, granite vanity, marble shower... I want to move in and never leave! At night we're not allowed to exit our tents without an escort and from the baboons chattering on the rocks behind my tent I don't think I'll argue with that rule. There are also Cape Buffalo and Lions nearby... so we're all going to be careful.

Before dinner... Sandi surprised Tom and told him that she was taking him on a balloon safari over the Serengeti. Tom looked and us and kept saying, "you're kidding,.... you're kidding right?!" It took a few seconds for it to sink in that we weren't playing a cruel joke on him and he was actually going to fulfill a dream of going up in a hot air balloon... he was pretty over-whelmed and happy.

We were escorted up to the dining tents by our Maasai Warriors and had an amazing 3 course meal. While we were having dinner in the dining tent the skies opened up and we had a thunderous rainstorm, our beautiful tents stayed nice and dry.. and incredibly cozy.
[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Wed, 11 Apr 2012 10:36:00 GMT
We just got back from a hot full day of safari in Tarangire National Park.

Tarangire is home to vast herds of elephants.... I'm sure we saw more than 200 or 300 elephants... from month old babies to large bulls with their long tusks!

The drivers were saying that there were lions near a dry river bed and our driver Harry managed to locate them. They were pretty far off but we saw 5 of them snoozing in the shade. Occasionaly one would raise his head and have a look at us but then they went right back to their nap.

There were about 4 jeeps under a tree and everyone was looking up at a nest with a python in it. YUCK! Don't they know that Pythons like to drop out of trees to kill their prey?! We stopped for a few pictures... **shudder**!

For lunch we stopped and had a picnic lunch overlooking the Tarangire River. The people who were leaving the table mentioned something about "look out for the monkey's they're going to steal your food". We looked around and wondered what they were talking about because there wasn't a monkey in sight. Tom went to the washroom and Sandi, Harry and I started to enjoy our lunch... from out of nowhere comes this devilish little monkey and grabs Tom's box lunch and turns to run... Sandi grabbed the box... the monkey grabbed the sandwich and away he went. As we left the table, we warned the next group of tourists about he monkey's... they probably looked around and wondered what we were talking about, I wonder if the monkey's got their sandwiches too!

Today we saw baboons, dik diks,
elephants, LIONS!, zebra, giraffe, python, a rare water deer, Thomson and Grant gazelles, monkeys, wildebeest, storks, lovebirds, belted mongoose, warthog and a million different types of birds... I'm sure that haven't even listed half of what we saw!

Tomorrow we'lll drive about 400 kms into the Serengeti for two days at our next lodge.
[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Wed, 21 Mar 2012 12:23:00 GMT
We saw Elephants, giraffes, zebra, impala, water buck, wart hogs, baboons and a ton of different birds. There are so many elephants in this National Park. We're still all a little bit overwhelmed.
we're all having a great time.... going to get some dinner now and then head back to our rooms.
[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Wed, 21 Mar 2012 12:15:00 GMT
February 19 - ARUSHA TANZANIA We are in Africa!!

Another long flight and and a connection from Amsterdam to Nairobi and then on to Arusha... we are finally here! We have only seen a little bit but it is already as good or better than I expected.

The drive from the airport to the Arusha Coffee Lodge took about an hour. First we drove through a region that was bone dry... nothing but the occasional dried up blade of grass. We saw several wind witches churning up into the sky. Kilimanjaro with its snow covered peak was only visible for a short time before it was covered in cloud.

We saw many children herding flocks of goats or cattle... some children were leading donkeys loaded with containers of water. Its a stark contrast coming from Amsterdam where there was water around every corner... to Africa where water is obviously very precious.

As we drove further the landscape became much greener... there are trees in bloom everywhere. Its Sunday here so the roads are filled with people dressed in their Sunday morning finest. We passed by thousands of people! I was surprised to see how many people you can jam into a VW type van here... their public transit is just these little vans but there are probably 15 or 20 people in each... one even had two calves in it. I'll try to get a picture of this tomorrow.

The Arusha Coffee Lodge is absolutely beautiful! Sandi and Tom have the adjoining cabin to mine. I have a seating area with a crystal chandelier and a fireplace. The 4 poster bed is up one level and draped with mosquito netting. The screened windows are open to let a gentle breeze cool the room and to let in the sounds of the many birds in the trees. Outside I have a verandah overlooking coffee plants.

There is a short trail to the main buildings.. we're going to go there at 7pm to have dinner and then hopefully get some much needed sleep!

Tomorrow we meet with our driver Harry to go to our next stop and start our first game drive!! I can't wait!!
[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Wed, 21 Mar 2012 12:07:00 GMT
Amsterdam: Feb 15 - 18, 2012 Arrived in Amsterdam at 8:30am.... we saw an amazing display of the Northern Lights almost the entire time that it was dark. It was a curtain of green and red lights dancing outside the airplane window.

After we got to our hotel we all had a two hour nap and then got on the trolley car and had a drive through town. We stopped and had dinner at a nice little restaurant and watched the goings on at the 'cafe' on the other side of the walkway. Cafes here aren't exactly the same as cafes back home..... here they don't sell coffee, they only sell marijuana and sodas.

We took the tram back to our hotel and we're going to go to bed early. Tomorrow we'll go to a museum and then a canal cruise.... most of the canals are still frozen.

FEBRUARY 16, 2012
I didn't sleep hardly at all last night.... but I still feel pretty good. I'm sure I won't have any trouble falling asleep tonight.

The weather was good today (no rain).. so we decided to delay our visit to the Museum and wander around Amsterdam instead. We saw so much and probably still only scratched the surface of what one can see here. I love the old buildings lining the many canals. We stopped at the floating flower market... they've got hundreds of different varieties of tulips that look ready to plant outside.

If the weather is good again tomorrow we're going to go to Zaanse Schans outside the town of Zaandam too visit some working windmills.

we're all having a lot of fun

FEBRUARY 17, 2012
Had a very full day today... after getting lost and going all around the central train/bus/tram station several times... we finally found our bus and drove out into the countryside to Zaanse Schans... a little historical village with all sorts of shops and quaint old houses. They have also rebuilt several old windmills one of which is a working saw mill. We watched how they cut huge logs into planks and beams which they sell to people who are looking for an authentic type of wood for the renovations of their historical houses. We had lunch at a nice restaurant at Zaanse Schans.... the "Amsterdam Croquettes" sounded interesting. A mixture of meat that was breaded and deep fried... served on rye bread with mustard. STAY AWAY FROM AMSTERDAM CROQUETTES!! Yuck... I can't really say if it tasted good because I couldn't get beyond the slimy texture inside the nicely breaded shell.

We came back into Amsterdam and took a cruise through the many canals. We didn't know which way to look... there were so many beautiful old buildings.

Finally we stopped at Heineken restaurant and endured the worst service I have ever seen in my life. Oh well... the food was good... we followed my own advice and stayed away from the Amsterdam Croquettes!

Tomorrow we're going to the museum to see some Rembrant's and then late in the day we board our plane and fly to Tanzania!!

FEBRUARY 18, 2012
Went to the Rijksmuseum and saw a bunch of paintings by the masters, Rembrandt's Night Watch was probably the most impressive one there... but I enjoyed looking at many of the others as well. I feel so cultured now! We wandered around a bit... had lunch at the Corner Pancake House, kind of a Dutch Denny's/sports bar with a 'cafe' out front. Back to the Hotel Zandbergen to collect our luggage and wait for our taxi..... next stop AFRICA!!
[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Wed, 21 Mar 2012 12:02:00 GMT
Upcoming Safari in Tanzania

Feb 19 - Arrival Arusha
Overnight Arusha Coffee Lodge (1nt)
Arusha Coffee Lodge lies cradled in the endless acres of Tanzania’s largest coffee plantation. This exclusive, boutique hotel lodge has been designed around the farms’ original plantation homes, radiating the warmth and invitation of the old colonial plantation homes historically distinctive to the coffee plantations. Luxurious accommodation, fine cuisine, and roaring fires, beckon to the most seasoned traveler. The Arusha Coffee Lodge accommodation consists of 18 plantation houses lavishly furnished, featuring split-level living room area and a private deck patio. Offering every guest amenity and fancy, the Arusha Coffee Lodge is the place to relax and rejuvenate before or after a Tanzanian Safari. Laze around the swimming pool, enjoy a sundowner at the Safari Bar, unwind after a delectable meal in the lounge with a good liqueur and a fireside chat.

Tarangire National Park
Named after the Tarangire River which runs through it, is an arid haven, peppered with ancient baobab trees, towering termite mounts, and home to huge herds of elephant.

Feb 20 & 21 - Tarangire Park
Maramboi Tented Camp (2nts)
Drive to Tarangire Park. 3 game drives and a bush walk. (BLD)
Maramboi Tented Camp is situated in a beautiful location on the shores of Lake Manyara, just 18 km from Tarangire National Park. It is set in a 25,000 hectare concession area run by the local Masai community. The spacious tents are on raised decks spaced out each side of the main lounge area, each with en-suite facilities and a private verandah. There are either twin or king size beds with lighting provided by solar power. The bar and dining area has views across to the Manyara shore and the bush beyond. There is a swimming pool at the end of a viewing deck overlooking the plains.

Serengeti National Park
The name comes from the Masai word “siringet” meaning ‘endless plain’. This 14,763sq. kms. park encompasses lakes, savannah grassland, wooded hills, rivers, swamps, and volcanic massifs. Due to this diverse ecosystem it is undoubtedly one of the world’s last great wildlife refuges. Serengeti is home to over 2 million wildebeest, half a million Thomson’s gazelle, and a quarter of a million zebra, giraffe, eland, topi, kongoni, impala and other antelope. The predators are also well represented by lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena. In total, there are nearly 35 species of savannah animals and almost 500 species of birds including lilac-breasted rollers, barbets, and ring-necked doves living in this animal kingdom.

Feb 22 & 23 - Central Serengeti
Mbuzi Mawa Camp (2nts)
Game viewing on drive to the Central Serengeti.
Optional Balloon Safari. 3 game drives. (BLD)
Scenically located in a glade, known as ‘the place of the klipspringer' (mbuzi mawe), and guarded by three million year-old granite towers, this luxury tented-camp is unique. Cleverly located on one of the main annual migration corridors for over one million wildebeest, half a million zebras and gazelles, and their accompanying cast of predators it is also located at the very epicenter of one of the world's most famous national parks. The sixteen large custom-made canvas tents are widely spaced throughout the rocky glades of the camp. Reached by winding stone paths, each tent stands on a stone platform and has its own thatched roof. Opening off the spacious bedroom, is a tented bathroom, which features twin basins, shower and flushed WC. The main bedroom area features two queen-sized four-poster beds, each with all encompassing mosquito nets. There is also a seating area with stylish lamps and easy chairs. On the spacious private terrace are both safari chairs and sun loungers.

Feb 24 & 25 - Western Serengeti
Mbalageti Tented Camp (2nts)
Game drive to Camp and 3 additional game drives. (BLD)
Mbalageti Serengeti is located in the western corridor of the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. The Lodge offers a breathtaking 360-dgree panorama view of the Serengeti Plain lands and the Mbalageti River, where one of the main attractions is the annual migration of wildebeest and zebra. Mbalageti is actually the word from old Maa language. It means wildebeest, but the word is no longer in use; today Mbalageti refers to the seasonal river. All rooms are beautifully decorated in a modern design for a feeling of comfort and have en suite bathrooms and a small veranda. View images at:

Feb 26 & 27 - Ndutu
Ndutu Safari Lodge (2nts)
Game drive to Lodge and 3 additional game drives. (BLD)
Ndutu Safari Lodge is situated in the Southeastern part of the Serengeti ecosystem. Shaded by majestic acacia trees, each of the thirty-four cottages, which are built of local materials, has a private verandah facing Lake Ndutu. The Lodge is surrounded by indigenous trees and shrubs, which encourage a host of birds and mammals to come right to your front door. Tucked well away from the busy tourist circuit, Ndutu offers peace and tranquility far from the crowds. Relax to the rhythm of an African day as a myriad bird calls herald the rising sun. Stay close to the Lodge and enjoy our resident wildlife, or go for a drive and explore the range of habitats that lie within easy reach. After sunset return to the warmth and hospitality of Ndutu Safari Lodge. Ndutu still has the informal, intimate feeling of the original bush camp, built by legendary hunter George Dove
in the 60's. Now, comfortable cottages have replaced tents, but our main buildings place no barriers between you and nature.
View images at:

Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area
Often referred to as ‘the eighth wonder of the world' the Ngorongoro Crater is one of Africa's best-known wildlife arenas. A World Heritage Site, it is also one of the largest volcanic craters in the world (almost 20 kilometres wide, 610-760 metres deep and covering a total area of 264 square kilometres). An utterly unique biosphere, the Crater harbours grasslands, swamps, forests, saltpans, a fresh water lake and a glorious variety of birdlife, all enclosed within its towering walls. Due to its high concentration of wildlife, close-range viewing opportunities and striking scenery it is also Tanzania's most visited destination.

Feb 28, 29 Mar 01 - Ngorongoro
Ngorongoro Wilderness Camp (3nts)
Game drive to Camp and afternoon game drive. 2 half day game drives in Ngorongoro Crater.
Afternoon walks and game drives.
Masai Village visit. (BLD)
Ngorongoro Wilderness Camp is a ‘seasonal’ camp located inside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Seasonal camps have the benefit of being able to move to some of the best game viewing areas of the park and every three to six months we move to a new location. Ngorongoro Wilderness Camp comprises of ten tents, with en suite facilities, solar lighting and eco-friendly toilets. Chilly nights are taken care of with warm duvets, hot water bottles and gas heaters in the communal areas. Our professional staff will be on hand to look after your every need, and our safari chef will prepare wholesome and varied meals during your stay at the camp. Meals are served in a large mess tent and the communal lounge and bar area is a great place to relax in the cool evenings. Maasai warriors provide security for the camp and this in turn provides them with much needed employment. Ngorongoro Wilderness Camp is an exclusive, but simple tented camp for those not keen on large lodges and hotels. View images at:

Lake Manyara National Park
Stretching for 50km along the base of the rusty-gold 600-metre high Rift Valley escarpment, Lake Manyara is a scenic gem, with a setting extolled by Ernest Hemingway as “the loveliest I had seen in Africa”. The compact game-viewing circuit through Manyara offers a virtual microcosm of the Tanzanian safari experience. Contrasting with the intimacy of the forest is the grassy floodplain and its expansive views eastward, across the alkaline lake, to the jagged blue volcanic peaks that rise from the endless Maasai Steppes. Large buffalo, wildebeest and zebra herds congregate on these grassy plains, as do giraffes – some so dark in coloration that they appear to be black from a distance. Inland of the floodplain, a narrow belt of acacia woodland is
The favoured haunt of Manyara’s legendary tree-climbing lions and impressively tusked elephants.

Mar 02 - Lake Manyara
Kirurumu Tented Camp (1nt)
Olduvai Gorge Paleolithic site and Afternoon Game Drive. (BLD)
Kirurumu Tented Lodge is set high on the edge of the Great Rift Valley, enjoying a marvelous, uplifting and panoramic view eastward over Lake Manyara, the Rift floor and Mt. Losimingori. Behind Kirurumu, the Ngorongoro Highlands rise in green and fertile splendour and form the gateway to Ngorongoro Crater and, finally, Olduvai Gorge, the Serengeti. Kirurumu has 22 luxury tents with ensuite facilities and all the modern comforts. There is a bar complete with sundeck with panoramic views of the Rift Valley. On option are Maasai guided botanical walks.
View images at:

Mar 03 - Arusha
Drive to Arusha, Lunch at Arusha Coffee Lodge (BL)
Transfer to Airport for the trip home
[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Mon, 19 Dec 2011 15:31:00 GMT
Winter Trip to Kalispell
The morning that we shot the mountain lion, the viewfinder on my camera was almost completely frozen over... if I pressed my eye right up to the camera, I could see a faint outline of the cat and as shot off burst after burst of photos, I hoped that at least a few would turn out. Here is my favourite one.. of Jewel the Cougar

Jay and Logan of Triple D brought lots of amazing animals for us to photograph. Here is a small sample of what we experienced

[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Mon, 09 May 2011 12:31:00 GMT
My Yellowstone Photo in the 2012 Nature Conservancy Calendar
My photo of the Solitary Tree was chosen out of over 20,000 entries as one of the finalists for the 2010 Nature Conservancy Photo Contest. As a result of this, it will also be featured in their 2012 calendar of which they're printing 2 million copies.
[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Mon, 09 May 2011 11:23:00 GMT
Trip to Bavaria 2007 - Rothenburg, Nuremberg and Rhine River On day 6 we left the big city of Munich and headed North out of the Danube Valley to medieval Rothenburg, with its ramparts and towers, cobbled lanes and 16th Century houses.

Rothenburg is still Germany's best-preserved walled town. In the Middle Ages, when Frankfurt and Munich were just wide spots in the road, Rothenburg was Germany's second-largest city, with a whopping population of 6,000. Today it's said to be Europe's most beautiful medieval town, enjoying tremendous tourist popularity.

Our next stop was Nuremberg for our walk through the pedestrian area of the Old Town.

We visited St. Sebald Church, which was painstakingly reconstructed as a monument to peace from the rubble of its near total wartime destruction… it was shocking to see the pictures inside the church of the city in total rubble. Nuremberg had always been a center of politics - in the Middle Ages it was preferred residence of German Emperors and later Nuremberg became burdened by the legacy of the Nazis. Although bombed to rubble in WWII, the medieval city center with its main buildings had been reconstructed, using the original stone. The main sights of Nuremberg, the churches like Sebaldus and St. Lorenz, romantic half-timbered houses in the castle quarter, cobblestoned squares and the majestic Nuremberg Castle the "Kaiserburg" create a nice medieval atmosphere in the Old Town.
Before leaving Nuremberg for the West we visited the Nazi party rally grounds, a huge site with monumental buildings where the Nazi party rallies were held and Hitler's troops had their parades.

One of the members in our group helped to lighten the mood… Ken flies a kite in every city he visits and then writes the place and date on the tail. We all cheered as his kite took flight.

We soon were on the road again and traveled via scenic roads to the city of St. Goar. We had time for an independent lunch and a short walking tour before boarding the Vater Rhine for a relaxing cruise along what is the most scenic section of the Rhine River. Gracing the shores of the Rhine are more medieval castles than in any other river valley in the world. The fairytale castles, combined with the breathtaking landscape of rolling carpets of terraced vineyards and old-world towns, create a dreamlike setting.

We arrived back in Frankfurt in time for a special farewell dinner at the hotel. We’d had our last full day in Germany and predictably no one in our group was ready to leave… I had a thoroughly enjoyed the Globus Germany trip.
[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Mon, 23 Nov 2009 16:35:00 GMT
Trip to Bavaria 2007 - Munich
Following our tour of the theatre we boarded the bus for the drive to Munich. Our first stop was Marienplatz with the Old and New Town Hall, and the Gothic Frauenkirche. Marienplatz is the heart of the city of Munich. In the Middle-Ages, the square used to be a market place as well as the place where tournaments and festivities took place. Important public events such as tournaments or executions were still held here. The square is dominated by the New Town Hall. The monumental, 79 meter high town hall was built between 1867 and 1909 in Flemish Gothic style to alleviate the overcrowded Altes Rathaus nearby.
The original Old Town Hall was completely destroyed by fire in 1460. Between 1470 and 1480, the old town hall was rebuilt in Gothic style. The building was completely destroyed again during the Second World War, but rebuilt afterwards following the original 15th century plans. East of the Marienplatz is the landmark which features on most of Munich's postcards: the Frauenkirche or Church of Our Lady. The foundation stone was laid in 1468. Its distinctive domes, which were built in 1525 would serve as a model for many of Bavaria's towers. The church is huge but simple. Much of the original gothic interior has been destroyed or removed.
After lunch we met with a local guide for our tour of Germany’s "secret capital". Stops along the way included the Olympic Stadium and Nymphenburg Palace. Located just west of Munich, the Nymphenburg Palace was commissioned in 1664 by Elector Ferdinand Maria, to celebrate the birth of his son, Maximilian Emanuel. However, the palace didn’t maintain its original state for long. A total of five Wittelsbach rulers had their hand in changing or adding to the palace. Max Emanuel, the young man for whom the castle was built, was the first to make additions, in the year 1700. He added galleries and pavilions, extending the sides of the Nymphenburg Palace. Soon stables were added to the south and even more buildings to the north. Further additions continued, especially throughout the 18th century. The facade was extended to an impressive width of 600m (1968 ft). A circle of ornate Baroque mansions, known as the Schlossrondell, was erected under Emperor Charles VII Albert. The enormous Grand Hall or Steinerner Saal, was added during the reign of Elector Max III Joseph.

After checking into our hotel (Arabella Sheraton Westpark) we went to the Hofbrauhaus for traditional German entertainment, dinner and a HUGE stein of beer.
[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Mon, 23 Nov 2009 16:33:00 GMT
Trip to Bavaria 2007 - Oberammergau, Neuschwanstein Castle and Garmish The first morning in
Oberammergau we enjoyed a buffet breakfast at the hotel and then drove to Neuschwanstein Castle. The tour included a horse drawn wagon ride up the mountainside to the castle. A local guide walked us through mad King Ludwig’s fairy-tale castle on its craggy outcrop high above a sparkling lake and told us the stories of Bavaria’s beloved King. Today Neuschwanstein is one of the most popular of all the palaces and castles in Europe. Every year 1.3 million people visit "the castle of the fairy-tale king".
In the summer around 6,000 visitors a day stream through rooms that were intended for a single inhabitant. After our tour we drove back down to the town and had time for shopping and lunch at a local hotel.

Our next stop was Garmisch. The quickest route there took us through Austria; Sheryl had Roberto stop the coach in a small village so that we could say that we stood on Austrian soil... another country to add to my list of "been there".

After arriving in Garmisch we had a brief orientation and then we were able to spend a few hours at our leisure. Garmisch could well be the sister city of Banff. The town with its many upscale shops is situated in the midst of the German Alps. There seemed to be more tourists here than at any other stop on our trip.

That evening back in Oberammergau, we spent some time wandering around the village to enjoy the painted facades on the buildings. We had an authentic dinner at the hotel while being serenaded by lively German accordion tunes.
[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Mon, 23 Nov 2009 16:31:00 GMT
Trip to Bavaria 2007 - Frankfurt to Oberammergau This next morning we had our wake-up call at 6am, had a buffet breakfast and departed Frankfurt at 8am for a scenic drive to the Black Forest on our way to Oberammergau. The German countryside along the way was dotted with many beautiful tiny villages.

Sheryl told us about German life, the history and pointed out important sights along the way. She and our driver, Roberto, kept us laughing with their friendly banter.

We were thankful for the many "comfort stops" along the way. The coach usually stopped every two hours so that we could stretch our legs, buy snacks and empty 42 anxious bladders!

The Black Forest region ('Schwarzwald') is essentially known for three distinctive features: its scenery and woods, the traditional Cuckoo Clock and the typical Black Forest Cake ('Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte') whose success is based on tasty cherry schnapps. The name black forest was quite accurate in earlier times, when the forest was impenetrable. When the wood trade began to falter, clock-making stepped in and has been a successful industry for the Black Forest ever since the 17th century.

One of our stops this morning was at the "House of Black Forest Clocks". Many people bought Cuckoo Clocks; we all had a typical Bavarian Lunch and then wandered through the village before returning to the bus.

Our next comfort stop was on Lake Constance at Marien Wallfahrtskirche in Birnau. This beautiful jewel of a church sits above the lake with vineyards running down to the lake. Completed in 1749, this church is decorated in the South German Rococo style. Once we entered the church we saw that it rivals even some of the most beautiful churches in Rome with its intricate frescos covering the walls and ceilings.

We continued our drive through the lovely forest and arrived in Oberammergau in the early evening for our stay at the Böld Hotel.

Oberammergau is quaint village with houses with colourful painted facades on many of its houses and shops. "Lüftlmalerei" is a handicraft method of wall-painting originally applied to decorate the baroque facades in Italy and Southern Germany. It was only in the 18th century that this method became popular in the foothill region of the Alps, where wealthy traders, peasants and craftsmen displayed their wealth by means of opulently painted facades. The subjects of the paintings are mostly of a religious character, particularly involving figures of saints as well as manifold scenes all around the Passion Play theme in Oberammergau.
Today there are about 120 wood sculptors in Oberammergau, actively carving and selling a large variety of wooden artifacts, from figures of saints to household goods. Furthermore, a Carvers School in town offers courses providing specialist training for wood carvers. We browsed through many shops that were filled to overflowing with beautiful carvings. What Oberammergau may be most well known for is the Passion Play. In the middle of the Thirty Years War, after months of suffering and death from the plague, the Oberammergauers swore an oath that they would perform the "Play of the Suffering, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ" every ten years. At Pentecost 1634, they fulfilled their pledge for the first time on a stage they put up in the cemetery above the fresh graves of the plague victims. Now, more than 2,000 Oberammergauers bring to the stage those events Christianity regards as its central source of life and hope in approximately six hours of playing time. The 41st Passion Play will take place between May and October of 2010. Globus has several tours which will include performances of the play.
[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Mon, 23 Nov 2009 16:29:00 GMT
Trip to Bavaria - October 2007

My trip to Bavaria Germany started with a direct flight from Calgary to Frankfurt on October 26, 2007. We arrived in Frankfurt half an hour early, collected our luggage and went to the meeting point to wait for a Globus representative, Sheryl. We were taken to our first hotel, the Sheraton Congress Frankfurt. This hotel is in Frankfurt’s business district and has a Straßenbahn stop directly in front. Sheryl suggested that if we weren’t too tired, we might want to catch the number 12 train and go to Römer Platz. A group of us quickly checked into our rooms and then met at the station.
We missed the first train because we couldn’t figure out how to get the ticket machine to work. After hitting every combination of buttons on the machine, we finally got our 2 Euro Einzelfahrt tickets. We all boarded the next train and took a twenty-minute trip to the Römer Platz.

Frankfurt was almost completely leveled during WW2. The majority of the city was rebuilt to modern standards and very few old buildings remained. Römer Platz, the historical old town centre, including its splendid half-timbered houses, was rebuilt according to the original plans in 1986. We wandered around, took pictures and stopped at a Café for a coffee and our first slice (of many) of real Black Forest Cake.
After our trip on the Straßenbahn we returned to the hotel for a special welcome dinner. Sheryl went over several tour ‘rules’ and told us what we might expect over the next few days. She called herself our mother hen, we were her chicks and that we wouldn’t have to worry about anything until we would fly the coop in seven days. She truly did take care of all our needs… from getting non-down filled pillows for those who were allergic to down, finding inexpensive phone cards for those who wanted to call home… to taking one of the girls to a doctor when she twisted her ankle.

[email protected] (Anita Erdmann Photography) Mon, 23 Nov 2009 15:06:00 GMT