Behind the Frame – 25 April 2012

Gerry van der Walt All Authors Leave a Comment

Welcome to the fourth edition of Behind the Frame.


As always, the behind the Frame post features  wildlife and landscape images from various wildlife photographers who share some of their thoughts, whether from an artist or technical point of view, behind their image.  I still feel that one of the best ways to learn and be inspired is to look at other peoples images and get some insight as to the how, what and why.  In the spirit of sharing we then share links to their websites so that you can see more of their work.


So, if you are keen to contribute check out this post for details.  For now, here goes with this week’s images from the following photographers:


– Mark Dumbleton

– Andrew Aveley

– Andrew Beck

– Gerry van der Walt


Hope you enjoy!


Dead Vlei by Mark Dumbleton



Nikon D700, Nikon 14-24mm, ISO 100, 19mm, f11, 1/30sec

Deadk Vlei, Namibia


When you climb over the dunes towards Dead Vlei for the first time, you have a pre-conceived vision of what Dead Vlei looks like. Many tourists travel into Dead Vlei everyday of every year, and with that, millions of photographs. It is truly an iconic destination.


About 6 months ago I asked the question to someone, do unique compositions still exist in Dead Vlei. They do! To the person who is willing try different things, change angles, change lenses, try something risky that you may think many won’t like. This is a mind-set I had when I eventually arrived into Dead Vlei. At first I was in awe of the place! The remaining skeletons of Camelthorn trees cover about half the clay pan, which are believed to be about 900 years old. It is such a unique landscape and I instantly fell in love with the place.


It took a while for me to get my bearings, forget about the awe of the place and start thinking of trying to capture the landscape with a bit of my own style, my own vision, to try create something just a little unique. I liked the shape of the trees, and emphasized this with a composition that I hoped would work.


Shadow and light play a major part in photography, and I used these elements to add to the composition a bit more. My camera was set up and I waited for the sun to dip closer to the horizon. This low light angle emphasized the patterns in the pan, and created a wonderful red glow on the dunes behind.


Instead of trying to photograph Dead Vlei as much as possible, I choose to rather focus on getting a few good images, try create something unique and above all else, capture the essence of the destination.


I was happy with the outcome of this image, and feel that I created something a little unique with a great flavor of Dead Vlei.


I “double processed” the RAW file to even out exposure a bit more, added a bit of saturation and that was about it. Not a lot of post processing was done as I wanted to keep this image as I saw it on the day. Keep it with a natural feel and try portray the landscape from my point of view and perceptions.


Mark’s Links:

Mark’s Website

500px gallery


Mark Dumbleton


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Hidden Danger by Andrew Aveley



Canon 5D MKII, 500mm, 1/2500 sec, ISO 320, Bean Bag and Panning Plate

Etosha National Park, Namibia


This image was taken in Etosha National Park at about 4pm one afternoon in June  last year after I had heard from excited tourists that there were 7 Lions lying out in the open earlier that day.


I had seen all the tracks of vehicles in the dirt and assumed we where in the correct spot but could not see a single lion.  After an hour or so I had driven slowly up and down the 2 km strip of track without spotting a thing. So much for being in the open 🙂


I spotted an Overland vehicle stop suddenly in the distance and decided to go and investigate .I could not see anything and upon questioning the driver he confirmed that there were lions a mere 60 m off the road lying sleeping.  Well they looked like they were in the open from the 1st floor of the truck. 🙂 I positioned the vehicle and set up my lens in the general direction the lions were in and sat and waited…


After several sweaty and uncomfortable hours , I noticed a set of paws and a tail moving in the air and saw the first glimpse of these predators.  I re-adjusted my position and focused through the view finder again… nothing.


I must be honest I had thought and re thought of various compositions I would attempt if and when these lazy beasts decided to arise from their siesta . I really enjoy a shallow DOF with wildlife images and set the aperture to F4 in anticipation. Finally a female lion slowly lifted her head to gaze over the open Etosha savannah in search of her next meal and I seized this opportunity to focus on her head as it cleared the long grass, took a deep breath and I tripped the shutter .


She kept her head up for less than a minute but as I had considered my options I managed to get various compositions before she disappeared below the grass line.  My heart was pounding and emotions were on a high as I reviewed my images on the LCD of my trusted Canon.  I eventually managed to breathe again and hoped that the other members of the pride would show themselves while we were still only 2 vehicles at the sighting but this was not to be…


Andrew’s Links:


500px Gallery


Andrew Aveley


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 Tswalu Roan by Andrew Beck



Canon EOS 40D, 400 mm, 1/640, f/5,6 ISO 100

Tswalu, South Africa


Back in 2009 I was tying up all the loose ends around my research project involving electric fence induced mortality in South Africa. With study sites scattered across the country I spent the best part of two months visiting each of the study areas and providing them with feedback and the results. One of the study areas was the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve which is where this image was taken.


In-between the presentations and discussions we were able to head out onto the reserve for a couple of game drives and ever since then I have been itching to head back there on a photographic safari. The variety of game (from black rhino to lion and almost everything in-between) coupled with the seemingly endless parallel dune systems make Tswalu and incredible place.


Who’s keen to join me?


Andrew’s Links:

500px gallery


Andrew Beck


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Wild Dog Running by Gerry van der Walt



Nikon D7000, 200mm, 1/20, f/11, ISO 500

Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa


Panning images not only make for a great way to tell a story but, due to the slower shutter speeds it requires,  also comes in handy when the light starts fading.


On this particular morning in the Madikwe Game Reserve we were sitting with a group of Wild Dog as they started getting active.  The light was not great and the area we were in, and this is sometimes a photographic challenge in Madikwe, was very thick with sicklebush.  This meant that nice, clean portraits or interaction images was out of the question.


As the dogs started moving around, and considering the light and environment, we quickly dropped our shutter speeds down and started looking for and photographing motion blurred and panning images.


The key to creating good panning images is:


– to find a subject that is moving at a perpendicular angle to your field of view

– use a slow shutter speed (start playing in the region of 1/30 and work your way down)

– keep your elbows tight and twist from the hip or even better, use a monopod

– track along at the same speed of your subject and keep on firing away


Creating panning images does involve quite a bit of trial and error but with time it does become easier.  Yeah, it’s the whole the-more-I-practice-the-luckier-I-get thing.


When you are next out in the field give it a bash.  Frustrating at times?  Hell yeah.  Worth it?  Most definitely!


Until next time.


Gerry van der Walt


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Comments 0

  1. Anthony Robbins

    With a sick wife and long weekends there was no way of making it this week but we will be back 🙂 

    Awesome images and stories to go with, Andrew Aveley, the wait was worth it for sure.

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