How the January Competition Winner Was Captured

Gerry van der Walt All Authors Leave a Comment

As a part of the 2012 Wild Eye Nature Photography Competition each monthly winner will be given the opportunity to share some thoughts behind their winning image. 


To kick things off Mark Dumbleton shares more information on the colorful image that won the first monthly competition.


Capturing the Southern Carmine Bee-Eater Frame



A huge attraction on the banks of the Okavango river in the late months of the year are the breeding Southern Carmine Bee-Eaters. They nest inside holes on the sides of steep river banks, and often, hundreds occur in these breeding colonies.

This was a major draw card for me when deciding to travel to the northern Okavango River area, near Shakawe in Botswana. This particular image took a lot of patience, understanding the behaviour of the birds, understanding their flight patterns, and also knowing when and how to capture a perfect photograph of these fast, erratic flyers.


The colour of the bird is very striking, and I wanted a background to complement these intense colours. We set up up on top of the river bank so we could get a good, eye-level perspective on these birds, and also to achieve that nicely diffused two-tone background I was after.

I used a Nikon D3, together with a 600mm f/4 lens and 1.4 converter, on top of a nice sturdy tripod. I knew I needed a shutter speed high enough to achieve a sharp image, and chose 1/2500sec as my shutter speed, I changed my ISO and aperture to achieve this.

Following the bird in the lens was the tricky part, but I soon got used to their flight patterns and tracked them through the air.


The Bee-Eaters often fly out and bank at a certain point when coming back to the nest, and this gave me the perfect opportunity for my camera to focus cleanly on the bird, and also provided a nice perspective, illustrating the immense beauty of the bird.

I spent many afternoons chasing photographs of the Bee-Eaters, and after a week spent with them, this is my favourite photograph of the lot. Patience was the key here. Without that, I would never have achieved this photograph that I had planned out before.

It was a great trip, and definitely a place I will return to time and time again.

Mark Dumbleton

* * *

You can check out more of Mark’s images here:

Make sure to keep an eye on the blog for more of the winner’s images!

Until next time.

Gerry van der Walt

* * *

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *