Monday, July 4, 2011

A photographer's heaven on earth: Kubu Island, Botswana.

 There have been some changes around this blog, and judging from the comments, for the better. I had been looking for a template where I could utilize some of the exciting photos I had taken on my last trip to Africa, and finally Blogspot came up with one that suited.

"Where did you take those photos?" I was asked on Facebook.

 The photos I have worked magic with here are taken at Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana.
Click on each photo to bring them up full size. They're worth the time.

 I was front seat passenger and sometimes navigator ( Love those GPS units!) in the lead vehicle  with Russell Frankish of Green Bushpig Safaris, who was guide for Britz Rentals Johannesburg to Victoria Falls return, 4WD self drive tour.
On the return leg we drove into the Pans for a stay at Kubu Island campsite. Information is here on    Makgadikgadi Pans, and the formation of Kubu Island, a rocky outcrop with many baobab and star chestnut trees. There is a campsite up close to Kubu Island.

First glimpse of Kubu Island.

 We arrived late in the afternoon after a long drive on sandy roads, through at times almost featureless scrub and dry grasslands. With an hour's sunlight left I grabbed my camera and climbed up through the rocks to capture what I thought may be a nice sunset. I truly was not expecting to see such a (and yes I know it's clichéd) stunning place! But the true beauty was not revealed until the sun was low on the horizon at sunset, and sunrise next day.

Soft glowing light spreads across the rocks.

Not so long ago I was a happy snapper with a basic camera, just intent on taking a few pics to record where we had been for our photo albums back home. But blogging, signing on for a travel writer's course, and buying a better camera has changed the way I look at everything when travelling. And to find myself unexpectedly in such a photographer's heaven as Kubu Island at sunset, with no one else around, I was out to make the most of my short time there...and entered into a really beautiful world in that magical golden time when the earth comes alive. Here in this almost deserted place, Nature pulled back her curtain, and the greatest show on earth commenced.

The light tinged the trees a glowing reddish orange.
 Fascinating twisted shapes.

The light, the colours, the rocky outcrops, all topped off with the starkness of the twisted bare baobabs and star chestnuts appealed to my creative juices...what could I create with my Canon SXIS10 on different settings?
After climbing down off the rocky outcrop I walked out on the pan, directly towards the setting sun.

The sunset colours were intense. But even better was to come.
 I would keep snapping pics as the sun approached the horizon, then turn 180 degrees to shoot Kubu Island, then turn to the sun, and then back to the island. The terrain being flat to the horizon allowed the "Golden Hour" to extend to such a low angle to magnify in brilliance, and create a soft rich depth of glow across the land, and a rainbow of colours in the sky behind the island. Possibly the pure clear air, and absence of light pollution wove their magic also.

The last glimpse of the sun as it sets a blazing display!
Whenever I turned 180 degrees I took a series of pictures, as the sun set lower, or as the soft sheen of golden light deepened over Kubu Island, and created a rainbow for the horizon backdrop.

You can see the length of my shadow in the centre
 as the last low light falls across Kubu Island.

Kubu Island in the "Golden Hour."
The rest of our party were cooking dinner back at our campsite seemingly unaware of the show Nature had put on for its solo audience. When I returned to camp the glow on the horizon was fast fading. I looked up from the fire and saw through a gap in the overhanging trees what I thought was a great composition for a photo. I am fascinated by silhouette photography.

I cropped this to use as my header.

Star chestnut trees overhanging our campsite created a perfect picture frame for these shots.

Same scene shot using 'Sunset' Setting.

 Then zeroed in at extreme limit of 20X optical focus upon the bare bush in the centre.

I have cropped this for my blog background,
rather liking the skeleton effect against the blazing background.

I turned into bed early, determined to be up well before dawn. I was hoping the morning display would be as good. Check back in to see if I was disappointed.

All photos are as my camera recorded them and not enhanced. Sunset setting does tend to enhance the yellows and reds.

And friends, if you enjoyed these photos, please hit that Share/Submit gadget just below, and spread this post around so others can join me in my journeys!



lakwatsera de primera said...

With sunset as beautiful as this one, i'm pretty sure the morning display would just be as spectacular.

JIM said...

HI JIm REally wonderful area isn't it.. Great job with the pictures. I love sunsets and sunrises..who does not???


jamie - cloud people adventures said...

great snaps jim! particularly like the one you are using as your header. the tree silhouette is awesome.

Melissa Tandoc said...

You words are flowing so smoothly as you described the photos you've taken. What makes it entirely different is how much you let the readers experience the places you've been into.

I love your new page. The colors are healing and soothing to my eyes. It beckons me to relax as I read.

Your photos are very lovely. You have a way of interchanging views from the animal shoots to sunsets and sunrise.

They look soft --- that's a very beautiful effect on photos.
The silhouette is terrific :)

I loved everything in it :)

BlogNostics said...

The title captured my attention and I saw how delightful it is for a photographer like you to enjoy every moment you had in such a beautiful place.

You did work magic Jim. Congratulations!

Jim said...

Hi Claire, I wasn't expecting to be in such a wnderful place. And the morning was truly glorious.

Hiya JIM,
You better get yourself over there. A true professional photographer like you would create photos so much better than mine!

Thanks Jamie. Yes that pic was just a last minute thing when I looked up from the campfire and saw the angles, framing and las glow of the sunset. If I didn't have my camera in my hand it would never have been.

Hi Melissa, yes trying to use words to describe the moment. And it truly was a beautiful time there with no one else around. I guess you could say God was showing his wonders.

Blognostics, Is that you AG? Trying to work magic was easy with such a subject, and a reasonable camera.

Marcia said...

Your photos are beautiful!
Two of my friends and I did a safari in Hwange National Park last year -- we're still talking about it. Your photos take me back. Thanks for sharing,

Leah Griffith said...

Hi Jim, I just popped in for the first time and I'm glad that I did. Your photographs are lovely. I felt like I was there with you. I love that you bought a new camera and have found such joy in using it. Your inspiration is inspiring;)

Mark Wiens said...

Wow Jim! Amazing colors. It looks like a peaceful fire is coming from the horizon of the earth. I really like those shots where the trees and black but the sunset comes through. Very nice!

thepinaysolobackpacker said...

wow! I'm a huge fan of sunset and sunrise! Loving the new template Jim, or the new header and background rather. =)
Africa is one of my dream place. You're so blessed! =)

Rimly said...

What magnificent sunset pictures you have captured Jim. Your narrative reflects how much you enjoyed capturing these images. Oh what I would give to go to places like that.

Sophie said...

Really like your new layout - esp. the warm glowing colours of Africa. Beautiful!

Stephanie - The Travel Chica said...

Sunset photos are a bit difficult. Nice job capturing this beautiful landscape.

Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista said...

Loved your pictures! Better photography is a goal of mine, guess I need to fork out for a better camera.

robin said...

What a beautiful place. Great shots!

Anonymous said...

Nice Post. This record helped me in my college assignment. Thnaks Alot

Jim said...

Hi Marcia, Haven't been up to Hwange. Have you got write ups about it on your site?

Thanks Leah, following your site now on Google Friend.

Hi Mark, I've been checking your site out. Lots of info, great pics and videos I'm really interested in. You do a great job there.

Hi Rimly, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. When we arrived, first impression was just a few rocks and trees, but then the sun at such low clear angles created very vibrant colours over the place. So unexpected.

sheril benedict said...

Ah Jim your pic is great !! especially the sunset pic .. Pleasant one

Kerry-Ann said...

I looked at your photos - then looked out the window. Then looked back at your photos... I am totally homesick now! You have caught the vibrancy and life so well, I feel like I can even smell and hear the sweet sunset sounds that only Africa can deliver at that time of day.

Nomadic Samuel said...

Jim, I've taken a good look around on your website & I'm impressed with your photos - especially the warm tones. You have a talent for landscape photography.

Michael Figueiredo said...

Beautiful photos, Jim! I really like the new layout of your blog too. It's very vivid and pleasing to read. :)

Jim said...

Hi Sheril, this place was just ordinary until the sun set low on the horizon. Then the landscape changed as you see. None of those photos have been enhanced, just as my camera took them.

Hi Kerry-Anne, yrs, that is the thing about Africa- the sunsets, and the brilliantly starlit nights!You're going to be even more homesick when I put the mornings photos up....
Enjoy Hong Kong. It will be a good experience. Are you planning to use it as a base to explore more of the Asia countries?

Hi Samuel, really great to read your encouragement. To have one of the great travel bloggers say that is really fantastic! I do experiment with styles of posts here...I get bored with same old way of things so will play around with styles.

Thanks Michael, hey just learning about photography but spotting a great composition comes easy as shoe designing is similar- knowing how all the components blend in.
You have a great picture site also. Readers, check him out!

Jeremy Branham said...

Love the new look of the blog. The photos you took were awesome! Great sunset photos and a fabulous and interesting look at Botswana!

sunset pictures said...

I loved each picture ; especially sunset pictures, they are beautiful. Well done!