Trip Report: Tuli Nature Photography Workshop, December 2012

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry Leave a Comment

As we start a New Year I am still excited about the last photography workshop Andrew and I hosted in December 2012.

Call it a warm glow if you will but as a photographic lecturer there are few things as satisfying as seeing someone arrive on a workshops or safari, go through all the stages from ‘I’m never going to get this‘ to ‘Hey, I think I’m starting to get this‘ and then on this particular workshop to producing a truly fantastic portfolio of nature images.

Our Tuli Nature Photography Workshop is more than just an exercise in ‘we will help you take better pictures’.  The goal is to create a portfolio of 12 images which shows the photographer’s version of the Tuli and with 2 facilitirors and only 6 guests I am sure it is one of the most in depth, personal photographic workshops out there!

It might sound quite simple but the process involves getting the shots but understanding your camera and the various technical and compositional techniques, choosing the right images when you;re done, processing the images and ultimately presenting them as a coherent portfolio.

Sounds easy?  When was the last time you tried to put together a portfolio of images that tell a story?  It is unfortunately a skill that, due to the nature of sharing on social media, many photographers have never learnt but it is still a very valuable tool in your photographic arsenal.  By taking the time to work through, scrutinise and ultimately put together a small selection of images you will challenge various photographic skills and inevitably grow as a photographer.

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife & Nature Photography

The diversity of the group of photographers that joined us for this workshop was only equalled by their love of  photography and sense of adventure.

By the time we stopped for breakfast on our way to the Tuli we were already laughing and joking in a way that would make you think that this was a group of people who have known each other for a long time.  The scene was set for an amazing workshop with a great group of people.

Day 1 – Tuli Nature Photography Workshop

After arriving at our camp and settling in we head out for a photo walk along the Limpopo River.  This is a great way to not only stretch the legs but also the photographic muscles.

Before the walk we spent a quick 30 minutes running through the guidelines and types of images we will be focusing on during the workshop.  Each participant’s portfolio of 12 images needs to be made up out of images in 8 different categories so by the time we head out for the walk everybody had an idea what kind of shots they needed to look for.

Walking in a true wilderness area with your camera is an absolutely amazing experience and with te Tuli being as lush and green as I have ever seen it this was the perfect way to start our workshop!

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife & Nature Photography

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife & Nature Photography

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife & Nature Photography

After a great walk and amazing sunset we head back to camp where we did the obligatory sit around the fire before calling it a day.

A wonderful start which prepped everybody for the activities to follow.

Day 2 – Tuli Nature Photography Workshop

After a welcome cup of coffee we head out with a number of photographic goals for the morning.

The great thing about this workshop is that we have the complete private use of the concession which means whenever needed we can get off the vehicles to get better angles, composition and views of our subjects.  During the game drive and various short walks we focused our cameras on animal interaction, animal portraits and animals in their environment – all a part of the 8 categories of images mentioned earlier.

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife & Nature Photography

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife & Nature Photography

 

After returning to camp and enjoying a marvellous breakfast we got serious as we hit our first Lightroom session.

The goal of the daily Lightroom sessions was not only to process images but also, and almost more importantly, to learn how to sort images and how to choose the ones to use in a portfolio.  Initially this seemed like quite a daunting task because ‘How can I go from 300 images to just 3?’  but once everybody understood the what how and why the process got a whole lot easier.

In between all of this Andrew and I would be there to assist with a critical eye where needed as well as Lightroom tips and tricks to help the participants to get the most from their chosen images.

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife & Nature Photography

After a short break and lunch we head out for the afternoon’s photography session.

Another walk took us up to the very top of Eagle Rock which offers arguably one of the very best views int he Tuli.  The goal for this afternoon was to shoot landscapes and sunset while always keeping an eye open for whatever else nature might conjure up.

During the walk and at the top of Eagle Rock the photography was awesome!  Some of the people who had only recently learnt about composition and things like aperture where crushing it!

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife & Nature Photography

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife & Nature Photography

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife & Nature Photography

After an amazing afternoon of photography, and a bit of quiet time, we made our way back down to the vehicle.

Back at camp dinner was served as everybody discussed the day, the activities and their slowly growing portfolios.

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife & Nature Photography

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife & Nature Photography

Day 3 – Tuli Nature Photography Workshop

This morning our cup of coffee signalled the start of another walk along the Limpopo.

The goal?  Sunrise images, river landscapes and macro.  The light on this particular morning was spectacular and the resulting images were amazing.

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife & Nature Photography

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife & Nature Photography

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife & Nature Photography

After breakfast it was back to the open air lounge area where we worked on sorting and processing the various images from the morning and previous afternoon’s walk up Eagle Rock.

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife & Nature Photography

The excitement was building throughout the day as our evening was going to spent under a canopy of stars.  Yes, a sleep-out under African skies – no tent – during which we not only experience a truly unique experience but also focus on low light and star photography.

As we head out with all our gear we touched base on some of the techniques for shooting evening skies.  On the way to our camp site there were many opportunities to photograph wildlife including eland, wildebeest, black backed jackal and elephants.

After setting up camp and prepping our cameras the sunset signalled the start of a magical evening of tripods, photography and lions roaring in the distance.

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife & Nature Photography

 Day 4 – Tuli Nature Photography Workshop

There are very few things as special as a cup of coffee brewed over an open fire as the African dawn breaks in the east.

Once everybody had gathered all their belongings we made our way back to our tented camp for a nice shower, breakfast and the exciting download of what turned out to be some amazing star and evening sky images. Oh, and happy faces all around!

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife & Nature Photography

The rest of the morning and early afternoon was spent on Lightroom as this evening would see the presentation of all the portfolios the group had put together in the last couple of days.

At around 14h00 all the work was pretty much wrapped up so we went for a bit of an afternoon nap and then enjoyed sundowners next to the river.  Even though this was a photography workshop it is always nice to kick back and just soak up the experience of having the privilege of being outdoors in such a beautiful environment.

Back at camp we started with the presentation of the portfolios – the goal and ultimate outcome we have been working towards.

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife & Nature Photography

Considering where a lot of the people started from – and I told them this – I have never felt more proud of a group as each person presented their 12 image portfolios.

After all the information that came their way each person presented their portfolio, which they had to name, and then chat through each of their images as we showed it on the projector.  One of the things that struck me was that each person’s portfolio name came from a very emotional place, something that was great to discuss.

Seeing this and how personal their collection of images was to them was amazing to see and it was a special feeling to know that Andrew and I could assist them on their photographic journey.

Here are the 5 portfolios that the group presented on the last evening of the Tuli Nature Photography Workshop.

Gallery:  Beryl Parker

  • Portfolio Name: Part of Paradise
  • Camera: Nikon D3100
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Gallery:  Penny Robartes

  • Portfolio Name:  Rebirth
  • Camera:  Nikon D80
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Gallery:  Ray Schaller

  • Portfolio Name:  Photographic Beginning
  • Camera:  Canon 5DIII
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Gallery:  Richard Parker

  • Portfolio Name:  Tears from Heaven
  • Camera:  Canon 5DIII
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Gallery:  Sabine Bergmann

  • Portfolio Name:  For the First Time
  • Camera:  Nikon D7000
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[gdl_gallery title=”npw-sabine” width=”125″ height=”125″ ]
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The focus of a photography workshop should not be about the facilitator and I am proud to say that our  Tuli workshop is an amazing product during which the focus is completely on the participants and their individual photography journeys.

On this trip I made a point of not shooting a lot in order to focus more on teaching so the majority of my images were taken on my iPhone 4s.  Apart from the group shot in the beginning all the images in this post was shot with and processed on my iPhone.  Goes to show that it really isn’t the size that counts but how you use it!

A huge thanks to Beryl, Penny, Sabine, Ray and Richard for joining us on this workshop.  It was great to have you as a part of our Tuli experience and I am proud to have been a part of your photographic journey.  I look forward to seeing your images and growth as photographers and look forward to seeing you all on future courses, workshops and photo safaris.

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife & Nature Photography

Our next Tuli Nature Photography Workshop takes place from 20 to 24 March 2013 and there are still a few spots left so if you are keen for an exciting photographic experience book your spot here and join us on the amazing road to photographic discovery.

Until next time.

Gerry van der Walt

 

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Comments 0

  1. Sabine

    Thanks to Gerry and Andrew for this wonderful experience! I really enjoyed it and learned at lot…. and had a lot of fun! Looking forward to the next photo experience with you guys…. 🙂

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      Author
  2. Beryl Parker

    Hi Gerry
    What an experience! Both you and Andrew gave us your all, with patience and dedication. I certainly will be joining another trip soon. I for one certainly learnt a tremendous amount in the short time.
    Thanks Gerry and Andrew

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      Author
      Gerry

      Thanks for your comments Beryl! Was great getting to know you and look forward to spending more photographic time out in the field! 🙂

  3. Pingback: The Tuli Experience - Wild Eye Photography

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