Sunday, March 20, 2016

Driving South Again

A pair of White-Backed Vultures alongside the road south of Maun.
I'm a little behind on the blogging since we've been on the go for a few days. This combined with the weather, had made it difficult to keep up.

The problem with the weather is that yesterday afternoon, when I had planned to get caught up on all this, we had yet another thunderstorms and the power went off for several hours. But, finally, here we go.

On Thursday we took a drive south of town towards Lake Ngami again. This time, however, we did not intend to go all the way to the lake, just see the sights along the way. We saw some birds but the only ones I got a shot of were the White-Backed Vultures shown above. They had ventured out to the side of the road to feed on some road kill.

Most of the time spent photographing was spent on landscapes. By now you know that I have a preference for these things in B&W. Landscapes here are a bit frustrating. there are no hills from which you can stand and see the surroundings. You either see what is up close - trees and maybe a river - or you see emptiness. Fortunately, there is the sky. The dramatic sky this time of year (it will be Fall on Monday!) is from the rain storms passing through. We found a spot with a depression and pond where there was a clearing that allowed us to see a more distant horizon. The image above, taken with a 14 mm lens shown the sweeping vistas possible when you get a little distance from the tree line.

The other fun thing to do with the dramatic sky is long exposures. These change your perception of the scene. The most dramatic change is in the sky. Since the clouds are always moving, this motion sculpts the sky in interesting and unexpected ways.

Along side the road we found place with an opening and I set up the camera on the tripod and added several neutral density filters. These limit the light entering the camera with affecting the color. Correcting of the light loss, The photo above and the one below required a 4 minute 20 second exposure. Notice how the cloud motion changes the sky to a dramatic element in the composition.

In this shot, the road is included. Here we see the other effect of long exposures. The road is empty. Now, while there is not great amounts of traffic on the roads once you are out of town, it was not the case that nobody passed us for nearly 4 and half minutes. There were trucks and cars and probably a bus in there. There moving objects all disappear because they are not in one place long enough to register. A fraction of a second of a car in one place compared to the long time required to get enough light to see the scene means that they just aren't there.

This technique provides a window onto the landscape that is beyond our normal perception.  It is a new way to see the world. By adding the dimension of time to the way we see it, we gain greater sense of what it feels like to visit a place that has changed very little since David Livingstone came through in the mid-ninetieth century, a place that has remained little affected by the presence of humans ever. This is really a timeless place.