Picture of the Week 8 – An “Unhappy” Lady

[View all Pictures of the Week 2012]

Most of the time you see a picture of a lion with an open mouth the animal is either yawning or flehming. It may look threatening and intimidating but it really is neither.

The young lioness in this pictures shows that she is quite upset. She is growling  at two young males (one of them in the picture), which were part of a different pride, who walked quietly past her in a show of dominance.

This scene was part of an encounter of the juvenile offspring from two prides on Thanda Private Game Reserve (2 males and one female on both sides). This happened while the adult females of each pride were absent.

During the time we watched the encounter there were no open hostilities, just lots of territorial marking behavior, many growls and fierce facial expressions (as the one in the picture 🙂

But the next day the males of both prides showed obvious signs of a night battle (wounds from claws on his shoulder – see the picture below).

More about lions:

Both males and females defend the pride and its territory against intruders. The male(s) associated with the pride must defend their relationship to the pride from outside males who attempt to take over their relationship with the pride. Females form the stable social unit in a pride and do not tolerate outside females. Membership only changes with the births and deaths of lionesses, although some females do leave and become nomadic and/or form a new pride. Sub-adult males on the other hand, must leave the pride when they reach maturity at around 2–3 years of age.

Picture Data:

Picture 1: Camera: Canon 1Ds MIII / Lens: Canon L 4.0 500mm / Mode: AV / Shutter Speed: 1/500s / Aperture: f/4 / ISO: 400 / Exposure Correction +1eV / Metering: Central weighted / White balance: manual K6500 / Time: midday / Freehand

Picture 2: Camera: Canon 1D MIV / Lens: Canon L 3.5-5.6 28-300mm at 210mm / Mode: AV / Shutter Speed: 1/4000s / Aperture: f/5.6 / ISO: 1600 / Exposure Correction +0.5eV / Metering: Central weighted / White balance: manual K6500 / Time: mid morning / Freehand

For more Lion pictures got to
www.sperka.biz/lion (for African Lion)
www.sperka.biz/lion2 (for African Lion in zoos)
www.sperka.biz/lion3 (for Asiatic Lion)

Hill-side Path

Here is one more scenic “non-animal” picture. This for all the “barn lovers” out there. I took this image in the Swiss Alps during a trip from Germany to Italy in August 2010.

This is a typical small barn next to a hill-side path. In the winter this area would be covered with snow, but in summer it displays lush green grass.

Picture Data:
Camera: Canon 1D MIV/ Lens: Canon DO 70-300mm at 200mm / Mode: AV / Shutter Speed: 1/350s / Aperture: f/5.6 / ISO: 400 / Exposure Correction +0.5eV / Metering: Central weighted / White balance: K6500 / Time: early afternoon / Freehand from a car window

Sunrise over Mkuze

In the last few weeks a few people have asked me if I could also put some of my scenic “non-animal” pictures on the blog.

Even if it is not my focus (I usually target things that can move :-)) I will post a few of my scenic shots over the next few weeks.

So here we go. The first picture is – predictably – from South Africa!

It is a view over the Mkuze Game Reserve, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. The picture was taken from high ground in then north of Phinda Private Game Reserve in the early hours of the morning.

Enjoy it.

The Forgotten Cat, the Answers and the Winner

Thanks to everyone who participated in the CAT EYES contest.

It is hard to believe, but I forgot to put my favorite cat, the African Leopard, into the contest selection 🙂

Congratulations to Ricky Reino from Surrey in the United Kingdom. He was the first to get all answers correct. And here they are:

1 Caracal – Nashville Zoo at Grassmere – Tennessee, USA
2 Serval – Nashville Zoo at Grassmere – Tennessee, USA
3 Cheetah – Phinda Private Game Reserve – Kwazulu Natal, South Africa
4 Snow Leopard – Zurich Zoo – Switzerland
5 Cougar – Nashville Zoo at Grassmere – Tennessee, USA
6 Clouded Leopard – Nashville Zoo at Grassmere – Tennessee, USA
7 Jaguar – Chattanooga Zoo – Tennessee, USA
8 Eurasian Lynx – Nashville Zoo at Grassmere – Tennessee, USA
9 Male African Lion – Thanda Private Game Reserve – Kwazulu Natal, South Africa
10 African Wild Cat – Limpopo Region, South Africa
11 Manul or Pallas Cat – Zurich Zoo, Switzerland
12 Bengal Tiger – Nashville Zoo at Grassmere – Tennessee, USA
13 Female African Lion – Phinda Private Game Reserve – Kwazulu Natal, South Africa
14 White Lion – Cincinnati Zoo – Ohio, USA
15 White Bengal Tiger – Nashville Zoo at Grassmere – Tennessee, USA
16 Amur or Siberian Tiger – Private Collection – Kwazulu Natal, South Africa
17 Panther or Black Leopard – The Bronx Zoo – New York, USA
18 Jaguarundi – Krefeld Zoo – Germany

The “Forgotten Cat” …

African Leopard – Londolozi Game Reserve, Sabi Sands, South Africa

… and the “Extras”

Sand Cat – Cincinnati Zoo – Ohio, USA
Bobcat – Cincinnati Zoo – Ohio, USA
Ocelot – Memphis Zoo – Tennessee, USA
Fishing Cat – Cincinnati Zoo – Ohio, USA

Cat Identification Contest :-)

If you visit my blog regularly you may have recongnised that the header shows random wild cat EYES images every time you go to the blog.

So, here is small contest for the cat lovers among you.

These are all the 18 different wild cat header images in one picture.

Below are 22 possible IDs for these cats (so I do not make it too easy I have included 4 species, which are not in the picture 🙂

The first reader of my blog who sends in the correct match list (images to names) by email to info@sperka.com will win a 8″x10″ EYES print of the cat species of her/his choice.

A – Male African Lion / B – Clouded Leopard / C – Amur/Sigerian Tiger
D – Eurasian Lynx / E – Caracal / F – Sand Cat / G – Ocelot / H – White Lion
I – Bengal Tiger / K – Jaguar / L – Snow Leopard / M – Serval /N – Cougar
O – Fishing Cat / P – Panther / Q – White Tiger / R – Pallas Cat/Manul
S – Jaguarundi / T – Cheetah / U – Bobcat / V – African Wild Cat / W – Female African Lion

Enjoy the contest 🙂

I will publish the correct match and the winner tomorrow!

If you like my EYES images go to www.sperka.biz/EYES to see more of them.

If you would like to help to protect all the wild cats in this world go to www.panthera.org

EYES images (ICT #2)

Image Creation Technique #2

One of my favorite methods to turn a realistic and natural image into a more “artsy” object is by turning it into an EYES portrait.

My definition of an EYES portrait is a picture where the eyes were left in the original color and the rest of the images is turned into a black and white image.

Here are the steps I usually use to accomplish this (this can be done in Photoshop, Paintshop Pro and many other image editing programs).

1. Crop the image to your liking and save it under a new name (This is to ensure that you do to overwrite the original image 🙂
2. Copy the complete image onto the windows clipboard
3. Create a new top layer (raster) and switch to that new top layer
4. Paste you complete image to the top layer
5. Hide the top layer
6. Switch to the background layer and adjust brightness and contrast so the eyes are as you want them
7. Unhide the top layer and switch to that layer
8. Turn the top layer into a black&white image (also adjust contrast and brightness to your liking)
9. Create a new masking layer
10. Unmask the eyes with the eraser tool (which will bring out the color from the background layer)
11. Save your image (and produce a JPG or other format as required)

These EYES images look particularly well on canvas or on metallic paper.

Here is a link to some of my EYES pictures: http://www.sperka.biz/eyes

Please feel free to make comments or ask any questions (either as comments on the blog message or as emails to info@sperka.com.

Note: Photography Classes or Private Photography Lessons with Christian Sperka are available at Nashville Zoo at Grassmere – nashvillezoo.org

Information about the two images used in this blog:
The Leopard image was taken at Londolozi Private Game Reserve in South Africa (during heavy rain :-).
The Boehlen’s Python images was taken in Nashville, Tennessee, USA (she is part of a private collection).

Bi-focal Images – ICT #1

Since I have published my “Nine Basic Rules of Motion Photography” quite a few people have asked me to share a few more of my image creation techniques.

So today I will be starting a new series of  message with “Image Creation Techniques” or short ICTs. From time to time I will publish blog messages explaining some of the ways I create my images.

Please feel free to make comments or ask any questions (either as comments on the blog message or as emails to info@sperka.com

Bi-focal images (ICT #1)

Often it is not possible to use small aperture to create an image with “deep” depth of field.

Here are two examples. One a is a snake picture and one is a scenic shot. In both cases I had to work with fully open aperture, because of the light available and the fact that the use of a tripod was not possible.

In case of the snake picture I wanted both eyes and nose in focus. So I shot multiple images
while slowly changing the focus from eyes to nose. I then used my editing tool (I use Corel Paintshop Pro) to merge two of the pictures and create the final image.

In the case of “the tree in the lake” I held the camera about 2 inches (~5 centimeters) above the water and shot one image with focus on the ripples up front and one image with focus on the tree in the background. Then I merged the images (stiched at the horizon). The results in an image with an interesting bi-focal effect.

Note: Photography Classes or Private Photography Lessons with Christian Sperka are available at Nashville Zoo at Grassmere – nashvillezoo.org

Picture of the Week 7 – Browsing in the Rain!

[View all Pictures of the Week 2012]

This is a picture of a Black Rhino browsing in the rain at Phinda Private Game Reserve, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa.

If you would like to order a print of this image go to http://www.sperka.biz/potw2012/h31e582f6#h31e582f6

The first time I took pictures of a Black Rhino mock-charging our car I did not take pictures 🙂  My adrenaline level was high and I had visions of a horn coming through the side of the car.  But, after a few of these “show” attacks I was able to get these pictures.

For more Black Rhino pictures go to www.sperka.biz/blackrhino

Picture Data (Browsing in the Rain):
Canon 1D Mark II, Canon L 100-400mm at 400mm, Freehand from vehicle, Mode AV, ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/125sec, Exposure compensation +/-0eV, AWB, Focus center point only

About Black Rhinoceros:
The Black Rhinoceros or Hook-lipped Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), is a species of Rhinoceros, native to the eastern and central areas of Africa including Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Angola. The species overall is classified as critically endangered, and one subspecies, the Western Black Rhinoceros, was declared extinct by the IUCN in 2011.

An adult Black Rhinoceros stands 132–180 cm (52–71 in) high at the shoulder and is 2.8–3.8 m (9.2–12 ft) in length. An adult typically weighs from 800 to 1,400 kg (1,800 to 3,100 lb), however unusually large male specimens have been reported at up to 2,900 kg (6,380 lb).

Females are smaller than the males. Two horns on the skull are made of keratin. These horns are used for defense, intimidation, and digging up roots and breaking branches during feeding. The Black Rhino is smaller than the White Rhino, and has a long, pointed, and prehensile upper lip, which it uses to grasp leaves and twigs when feeding.

The Land between the Lakes, Reelfoot Lake and the Banks of the Mississippi

Bald Eagle on the Banks of the Mississippi. 

This week I gave two presentations at the Paducah Photography Club in Kentucky, USA and at the Northwest Tennessee Photography Club in Martin, TN, USA.

This gave me the opportunity to take pictures at the Land between the Lakes in Kentucky, at Reelfoot Lake and on the Banks of the Mississippi.

This is a link to the pictures I took during the two days. Thanks to Donna, Melanie, Roy, Roger and  Richard for their hospitality and for showing me around their “home territory”!

SLIDESHOW: http://www.sperka.biz/lblrl/slideshow

Enjoy the pictures.

Reelfoot Lake