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Rogge Cloof Private Sutherland Estate Photography August 2018 Workshop

Rogge Cloof Private Sutherland Estate Photography August 2018 Workshop Craig Fouché Photography in proud association with Rogge Cloof Private Sutherland Estate, an upmarket, exceptional standards establishment reserve near Sutherland, presented their first astrophotography, landscape and wildlife workshop for 2018 at Rogge Cloof Private Sutherland Estate. Here we had the opportunity to photograph the night skies, landscapes and wildlife on the reserve. My photography workshop clients came from as far as Pretoria and Cape Town to learn Milky Way and night sky photography while exploring South Africa ’s finest and darkest skies in the Upper Karoo near Sutherland – South Africa’s premier night photography destination. The group ranged from absolute novice to professional. The main thrust of the workshop was astrophotography, with landscapes and wildlife as an added extra. The weather played the game with us, and in true style, Sutherland teamed up with Jack Frost and Ice Maiden and breathed their frigid, bone-chilling atmosphere upon us. It was bitterly cold and lenses frosted up at 01h30 in the morning whilst shooting crystal clear milky way compositions! A week prior to the workshop, Sutherland had been blanketed in a canvas of white, much to my delight, as I was hoping for Milky Way images over a snow-capped landscape. Since the workshop, we have since experienced three snowfalls in the region and surrounds! Cryogenic Reflections Day 1: Arriving at Rogge Cloof Private Sutherland Estate, it was frigid, to say the least, and there were clouds about. This is the last thing you need when shooting night skies. Clouds can, however, create interesting long exposure images during night sky photography. My experience with Sutherland weather is that it is always subject to change, one moment there may be clouds, a little while later it is bound to change. I was not troubled by this and shared that with my clients. As with anything, you can plan and prepare for all scenarios, but have no control over the weather. This is something you need to accept with and be creative with what's sent your way. At the reception, we had some coffee and snacks and a lovely large fire to warm us up; each client was given a branded Craig Fouché Photography beanie for the cold nights ahead. We were introduced and briefed for the evening shoot. André of Rogge Cloof Private Sutherland Estate enthusiastically and entertainingly shared information on their wines that they have on sale. A brief wine tasting was had, and guests each bought a few bottles of wine for the cold. We had to depart timeously for our accommodation in "The Village" on the reserve, to settle in and prepare for the sunset shoot and night sky photography that lay ahead of us. Locations were pointed out, camera settings discussed, and final preparations for the night shoot were put in place.  A few lovely sunsets were captured, after which we returned for some heartwarming farm style soup made in true Karoo fashion. Sunset Planning Milky Way Planning We later made ready to shoot the Milky Way where I was on hand to assist with either light painting or advice. Day 2: The following morning I was up early, and those that wanted to join, did so, and we captured some very interesting frosty images. The sun rose and it felt as if it was getting colder as it peeped over the mountains and Salpeterkop, a now extinct volcano in the distance. Jack Frost seemed to refuse to want to relinquish his icy grip over us, and Ice Maiden sighed deeply over the landscape! Crispy, crunching, cold snapping sounds resonated under the soles of our shoes as with each step we scouted out our photographic compositions. Ice Maiden's Breath Breakfast was at 08h30 at the Pear House. After breakfast, some editing was done, where I was on hand to assist or offer advice. Some of the guests opted to explore the reserve on a morning game drive. Editing (Cell Phone Shot) Lunch was served at around 13h00 and those that wanted an afternoon nap had one. For the evening, we prepared to have dinner at the Rogge Brood restaurant at reception. Our subject shoot was one of two windmills close to reception. This had to be an early shoot as the Milky Way was rather high in the sky. We shot from shortly into golden hour until after dark. Dominique Cook, an absolute novice, astounded me with an amazing panoramic shot shoot captured at that location. After helping her set up, she photographed the windmill and decided to look in the opposite direction towards the restaurant, and capture that scene before her. Die Burger - 17 August 2018 She ended up with a truly stellar image incorporating the Milky Way; the gegenschein (which is a faintly bright spot in the night sky, around the antisolar point. The backscatter of sunlight by interplanetary dust causes this optical phenomenon); Jupiter rising with the zodiacal light and a shooting star! She later went on to submit this 18 image stitched panorama in Die Burger; a South-African, Afrikaans national newspaper who was running a competition until the end of August 2018. We await the results of this submission and have wished her the very best. This just goes to show that anyone is capable of capturing amazing images under the right guidance and instruction and allowing the person to bring their own creativity into the mix. Dominique Cook has done just that! Zodiacal Light Over Rogge Cloof - Dominique Cook ©2018   We then returned to our accommodation, where I took my clients to another windmill which has great scope for capturing reflections in the water trough. Conditions had changed, and the wind had picked up. This did not afford anyone that opportunity to be able to capture that shot which I had previously captured during my preparation for the workshop. Clouds had started to roll in too. It's Raining Stars, Rogge Cloof, Sutherland, South-Africa I had a further look at Photopills, an exceptional app for all photographers, and one that you shouldn't be without, to see where the Milky Way would be positioned for the last subject of the night: The Shepherd's Hut. It was already cold, and some were feeling that and decided to call it a night around 22h00, satisfied with the images they captured. I was prepared for a final magical Milky Way and met Kim around midnight for the final night sky shoot. By this time it was already -6ºc, and later dropped to -10ºc, the clouds had all gone! We ended finding different compositions at this spot, varying from light painting to wide panoramas. Our lenses were icing up. Icicles on my moustache were melting and forming under each breath. It was still so bone-snapping cold, in spite of me wearing seven layers clothing!! The Milky Way and Mars Over The Shepherds Hut The rewards were so worthwhile as you can see from the image above. In the end, and I am so glad we persevered through that. I crawled into bed around 02h30, to wake up at 05h00 to meet with Nigel for a blue hour shoot. Day 3: The blue hour is a special time of the day. Most people are not even aware of the blue hour, yet focus on sunset and golden hour instead. Nigel and my wife Dominique joined me for this special time of the day. Just as well as the golden hour that followed was just as special. The previous morning was an appointment with Jack Frost and Ice Maiden; this morning they were nowhere to be found. Being at the right place and the right time, seizing the moment is what it is all about. You may not have that opportunity come your way again. Blue Hour Over The Dam Cottage After shooting this scene, we explored other subjects, and I was on hand to help both Dominique and Nigel with settings and advice. Golden hour was exceptional this morning. The glowing reds and oranges of the sunkissed trees and mountainside popped and painted a whole new scene before our eyes. This was truly a magical time. Golden Hour Over The Village As quickly as it came, quickly it went, and the morning transformed into day. We met again for breakfast at 08h30, and those that wanted to leave earlier did so. The workshop was a success as you can see from the images captured. It was very cold, and that adds to the experience and the quality of the images captured. Our next workshop is being held on 9-11 November 2018, seats are already been filled. There are still slots available, book now to avoid disappointment. I would like to thank everyone who participated in the workshop, my wife Dominique for her support and managing the unseen background essentials of the workshop and for assisting me. Everyone came away with something from the workshop. To Nikon South-Africa for the loan of the Nikon D850, what game changer and superb camera body! Thank you Rogge Cloof for such a superb venue!   Book Here For The Next Workshop The next workshop runs from 9-11 November 2018, you too can learn to photograph the night skies as above. You don't even need to own a camera, there is a 20% Outdoorphoto / ODP camera gear discount voucher available to those that book. There is also a further 30% discount on offer for the printing of your images on canvas from sizes A1-A3 at Kodak SuperFoto Worcester. T&C's apply. Click now on the button to book for this exciting workshop and for more information! BOOK NOW   Dominique Cook


Hantam and Roggeveld – Crazy Daisy and Bitterly Cold

Hantam and Roggeveld - Crazy Daisy and Bitterly Cold   Crazy Daisy - Willemsrivier Farm, Nieuwoudtville, South Africa Hantam and Roggeveld Crazy Daisy puts away her nakedness once a year and dons on her best ballgown of many colours for Spring. She fills the air with her perfume, if only for a while. She intoxicates, dazzles and bewilders us. As quickly as she prepares herself for the ball, so quickly does the evening disappear and she returns to be a Cinderella again, once the flower spectacle is over. She can be an icy cold woman, you also will feel her warmth and allure, and her angry heat too. She will certainly charm you in many ways and have you come back for more! The Karoo is a sun-seared, harsh and forbidding land. A hard, tough life are the words that spring to mind when confronted with the vast and forbidding landscape of the Hantam and Roggeveld Karoo. Africa is not for sissies they say, this area is a harsh region, one that shapes you and moulds you, and makes you its own. Change is a hard thing for some, the message it sends out is one of embracing me and I will embrace you, ignore me and I will overtake you! This is the way of the Karoo in an unforgiving landscape, the Karoo cannot be tamed. Northern Cape Tourism Flower Route Map The towns of this region are Calvinia, Nieuwoudtville and Loeriesfontein; Sutherland and Middlepos respectively, with Calvinia and Sutherland being the major towns of each region. We got to explore three out of the five in our recent trip to this part of the Karoo. This is a good thing, as it leaves us with an excuse to return to this beautiful region again. For this blog, I am only going to discuss Nieuwoudtville and Calvinia. Sutherland will be dealt with in a separate blog for good reason, as I held a photographic workshop there at Rogge Cloof Sutherland Private Estate. Rogge Cloof Panorama Nieuwoudtville Nieuwoudtville, locally pronounced ‘Nowtville’, is a tiny village in the Northern Cape province of South-Africa, a place internationally acknowledged as the bulb capital of the world. It really comes to life during the flower season. The Khoi San inhabited this area for many centuries before the first settlers arrived in about 1730, and local rock art in Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve and on farms around Nieuwoudtville bears witness to an ancient culture that flourished here. During this period vast herds of game periodically roamed the plains of the Bokkeveld Plateau (Antelope Plateau), after which it derived its name. To get the most out of the Bokkeveld, you must take your time, don’t rush along. It is not uncommon to find up to 50 different species within one square metre of Renosterveld! Believe me, it took us over 3 hours to travel 450m, and that was only to photograph flowers! Namaqualanders, Oorlogskloof Farm, Nieuwoudtville, South-Africa Approaching Nieuwoudtville one ascends the Vanrhyns Pass on the R27 between Vanrhynsdorp and Nieuwoudtville which was rebuilt in 1962. It carries heavy traffic from Cape Town up to the Bokkeveld Mountains and Calvinia. There are a few lookout points where one can stop along the way to absorb the spectacular view before you reach the summit and is best photographed in the evening. This is one of the ten major mountain passes constructed by the South African road engineer Thomas Bain, linking Nieuwoudtville to Vanrhynsdorp. In the space of 8km, the pass conveys the traveller across the Bokkeveld escarpment into a startlingly different world – from a semi-desert landscape to an arid plateau with trees and grasslands. One will witness the lifeblood veins of green coursing the Knersvlakte valley below, hinting at the existence of subsurface water below. Knersvlakte - Cellphone Image - Dominique Fouché © 2018 Knersvlakte - Cellphone Image - Dominique Fouché © 2018 During springtime, the stretch of road between Vanrhynsdorp and the pass, known as the Knersvlakte, is transformed into a colourful carpet of flowers. The Knersvlakte is a region of hilly terrain covered with quartz gravel in Namaqualand in the north-west corner of the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The name, literally meaning "gnashing or grinding plain" in Afrikaans, is thought to be derived from the crunching of wagon wheels as they moved over the hard quartz stones, or the gnashing of teeth for the hard arduous journey that was required over this terrain. The white quartz gravel reflects more heat than the surrounding regions and one will find endemic succulent leaf plants that are found nowhere else in the world. The Knersvlakte is Succulent Karoo and dominated by leaf succulents belonging to the Aizoaceae and Crassulaceae, with a variety of shrubs spread amongst them. The climate of the region is semi-arid with long dry summers, and rainfall occurring in the winter months. From the look-out point some 800m above sea level, you will have a sweeping view of the Knersvlakte, the Hardeveld and the Maskam region. The Bokkeveld Mountains contribute to the 180-degree panoramic view, the Bokkeveld Plateau is reached at the top of the pass. This Knersvlakte region is found north of the Olifants river and the towns are Klawer, Bitterfontein, Vanrhynsdorp and Kliprand. All Roads Lead To Home Evidence of the extensive sheet glacier that covered much of South Africa about 300 million years ago can be seen south of Nieuwoudtville where grooves formed by rocks and pebbles carried in the ice sheet were left behind on the glacial floor after the ice sheet melted. These glacial pavements tend to impede water infiltration and damp patches result, which are favourite habitats for some of the lovely local geophytic plants. With the arrival of European settlers in the early eighteenth century, the vast herds of wildlife were replaced by herds of sheep and cattle which belonged to the settlers. The settlers established themselves in the well-watered western edge of the Bokkeveld close to the escarpment and the village of Nieuwoudtville was established in 1897 on land that was purchased from H.C. Nieuwoudt - after whom the town was named. People now make their living from sheep, wheat, rooibos tea farming and eco-tourism. Nieuwoudtville Church Plain Nieuwoudtville’s public fame started, arguably, with a sheep farmer, the late Neil MacGregor, who on his farm, Glenlyon, took down all internal fences and opened the area to his livestock. The livestock practically ate all the plants and trampled the seeds. He left the diggers, foragers and plant predators, especially the porcupines, to open the earth to rain. He was later rewarded with the flowering of an extraordinary biodiversity on his 6000ha farm. The sheep also flourished, botanists and even Sir David Attenborough came to visit. Tourists have not stopped coming since to view this spectacular event. His farm was later declared the Hantam National Botanical Gardens. The Garden comprises a vast area of over 6000ha which includes representative patches of Nieuwoudtville Shale Renosterveld, Nieuwoudtville-Roggeveld Dolorite Renosterveld and Hantam Succulent Karoo. Nine different trails can be followed covering the variety of habitats and soil types which make this Garden so unique and different. Namaqualand is the home to the richest bulb flora of any arid region in the world and more than a 1000 of its estimated 4000 plant species are found nowhere else on earth! It is so true when we read in the Scriptures and we see this flowering spectacle, how can we not say: Isaiah 55:12 "The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!" Psalm 65:12 "The pastures of the wilderness overflow; the hills are robed with joy." Glenlyon was sold to SANBI in 2007 and has now become the ninth National Botanical Garden managed by SANBI. 1885 Hulpkerk At Willemsrivier Lit by Moonlight, Nieuwoudtville, South-Africa   Geelkatsterte / Yellow Cat Tails Willemsrivier, Nieuwoudtville, South-Africa Quiver Tree Forest / Kokerboom Forest The kokerboom in Afrikaans, quiver tree in English or choje to the traditional San peoples of Southern Africa, belongs to the group of plants known collectively as aloes. Both the Afrikaans and the English names are derived from the San people’s practice of making quivers from the branches of the trees. It was a practice diarised by then Governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel in 1685 while on an expedition searching for copper in the Northern Cape. Nieuwoudtville sports the largest Kokerboom Forest in the Southern Hemisphere. This tree is essentially an aloe plant reaching up to 9m tall and 1m in diameter at the base, it is thought that they can live between 80 and 300 years. It takes about 3 years for the kokerboom to reach 5cm,  another 15 to 20 years to reach flowering maturity at about a meter. It is rather obvious that these desert giants are slow growers. The existence of a naturally occurring forest with hundreds of adult trees at 3 metres plus, is therefore truly a sight to behold! The slow rate of growth has its downside and these plants are extremely vulnerable to various vegetation predators, birds and climatic changes. On The Road To Gannabos, Kokerboom Forest, Nieuwoudtville, South-Africa To find the forest, you travel north on the R357, past the 90m high Nieuwoudtville waterfall (which currently has an entry fee of R30 pp if you wish to visit before 17h00) on the Doorn River, you arrive at a turnoff to Gannabos farm. You will find the Nieuwoudtville waterfall, decidedly underrated despite it being one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country. I was impressed by the sheer size of the waterfall, and the gorge that it tumbles into, even although it wasn't in full flow at the time of our visit. Nieuwoudtville Waterfall, Nieuwoudtville South-Africa On our previous visit to the Kokerboom Forest, the small bushes were in full purple glory, these being the Ruschia caroli of Rushia extensa, the local name in Afrikaans is the Beesvygie, and the Quiver Trees in yellow bloom. What a stark contrast this time, flowers everywhere else and in abundance in the district, but nothing here! Here, again the stark rawness and harshness of the Karoo reminded us that this is a tough region to survive in. In spite of that, I was not disappointed as I preplanned an evening shoot which went on little further into the night and included some star trails. Kokerboom Forest 2014 Kokerboom Forest 2014 Kokerboom Forest 2014 Milky Way and Star Trails During Moonlight over a Kokerboom Tree Quiver Tree Solitude and Barrenness Quiver Tree Forest / Kokerboom Forest at Sunset I also shot my new Shen Hao 4x5 large format camera here for the first time, this was a learning curve for me as it is slow, methodical and time-consuming to have all the ticks in the boxes completed before you fire the shot. It is so different from the normal 35mm format in many regards, I am however happy with the results and will be using it more often for various shoots that I have planned. If you don't know what this camera is about, think of the black-cape-over-the-camera and photographer in 1910 and wet plate glass images, except this is film and the results speak for themselves! I will let you decide and it would be great to have your feedback in the comments below. Kodak Portra 160 4x5 Kodak Portra 160 4x5 Crazy Daisy - Willemsrivier Farm, Nieuwoudtville, South-Africa Seas of Yellow - Nieuwoudtville, South-Africa So What Else Is There Besides Flowers? It is not all flower power in Nieuwoudtville, pedal power is the name of the game here too! Hosted on Brandkop Farm since 2015 by Nieuwoudtville Akademie, a small private school in town. The first and only one of its kind in the area, a professionally organised event with challenging tracks for the cyclists, high prize money for the winners, attract riders from both near and far alike. The 28th August 2018 saw the Hantam MTB Challenge offering a choice of  either 20, 40 or 80km in the saddle on a MTB, a tantalising ride that I have not done yet! Whether you looking for peace and quiet, this is the place to do just that! Other activities like photography, local sandstone ruins, the glacial pavement, the Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve and a myriad of activities that include bird watching, hiking and a lot of star gazing (light pollution in Nieuwoudtville is minimal) are some of the attractions to this region. Also visit the small towns of Loeriesfontein, for the windmill museum, and Calvinia. Calvinia Is that just a dot on the map you may ask, or perhaps you have heard it mentioned on the weather forecast? Or is that a platteland dorpie somewhere in the Karoo? This was our first visit to Calvinia on a going-nowhere-slowly drive in search of more flowers from the region. Calvinia is the principal town of the Hantam Karoo and lies at the crossroads to a number of towns and villages scattered across the wide open spaces of Bushmanland and the Tankwa, Roggeveld and Hantam Karoo. It is pleasantly situated and is dominated by the high ramparts of the Hantam Mountains to the north and surrounded by hills and mountains such as the 1 657-metre high Rebunieberg and the Keiskeiberge to the south. The town lies on the banks of the erratically flowing Oorlogskloof River over which one will cross a few times on the R27. It was founded in 1845 on the farm Hoogekraal which was purchased by the Dutch Reformed Church in order to establish a parish for the far-flung community of the Hantam Karoo. The original name of the region and the village was Hantam. The name Hantam has its origins with the Khoi people and it is believed that the name refers to "the hill where the red nut sedge grows". On the R27 to Calvinia near the Oorlogskloof River The town features a number of fine Victorian and Edwardian era buildings. I was pleasantly surprised at how neat and tidy it is. One of the oddities of the town is the giant post box, which was converted from a water tower in 1995 and is probably the largest post box in the world, which measures 6.17m high and has a circumference of 9.42m.  Calvinia was the terminus of the branch railway line running from Hutchinson through Carnarvon and Williston, which was completed in 1917. For many years the railway was the primary conduit for the transportation of agricultural products from this remote corner of South Africa to the main railway network linking Johannesburg and Cape Town. Sadly, so many of these little towns in the Karoo have declined since their lifeblood of the South African Railways gave way to goods trucks. We were a week too early for the annual Hantam Meat Festival, this is sheep country, and the last weekend in August in and around Calvinia, everything is in an uproar when the annual Hantam Meat Festival takes place. This year, it was already the 29th time that the festival had been run and its main purpose is still, as when it started in 1990, to promote the delicious, fragrant mutton of the region. Definitely a highlight on the calendar. Lovers of mutton and lamb will enjoy a wide variety of different cuts of meat, prepared in different ways, and all in "tasting" portions to enable more tasting. Your taste buds will experience meat braaied, stewed, curried, in pita, on sosaties, in potjies - you can even pick up a done-to-perfection sheep's head! ! Besides eating your fill of your favourite meat there are numerous demonstrations, farm products for sale and somewhere to have a coffee and take a break. In true Karoo fashion, there is all sorts of entertainment and things to do. Five Simultaneous Rainstorms on R27 Near Calvinia In Closing... The best way to explore the region is to get in your car and find a base to work from. Head out to the next town, tune into an unfamiliar radio station, meet and speak to the locals either next to the roadside or interact with them at the local general dealer or ko-op. Get to feel and experience the soul of region and the Karoo. The Karoo to many, maybe a sparse and empty place, to me, its a place of discoveries and memories waiting to happen and no doubt, we will return again to enjoy this very special region. So many discoveries, so little time! Acknowledgements Resource information found at the following websites: Karoospace, Nieuwoudtville, Africa Geographic, SANBI, The Great Karoo, SA Venues. Click on the images to view an enlarged single image. All my images are available for purchase as prints. Digital images can be used under license agreement. Should you wish to purchase or license my images, please click here for more information, so I can assist you with your needs. Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe


Have You Tried YouPic for Photographers?

Have You Tried YouPic for Photographers? Have you tried YouPic for photographers? YouPic is a photo and video platform where anyone can upload their work. Photographers can rate each others work, down to specifics like composition, creativity, technical quality and content. YouPic is the place for photography enthusiasts around the world to be inspired, receive recognition and improve their photography. It is in my opinion, the best social platform for photographers out there right now. Whether you are an amateur or a professional, the YouPic platform provides anyone with useful courses, tips & tricks, and inspiration. YouPic is first and foremost a photo community, and it is based on a passion for photography and an engagement in the art form. There are currently over 1.5 million photographers from all around the world that have found YouPic and has become a part of its loving and active community. On YouPic, there are a number of ways for photographers to interact with each other and share their work with the rest of the community.  So What Is YouPic? Well, its not Instagram, it is not Facebook. Why I say that it’s not really like Instagram or Flickr etc, in which you could post anything off the cuff (although you could if you wanted to), is because it can best described as being a LinkedIn version of Instagram where professionals display their work, where they can be hired, their work reviewed or even sell their works. The photographic quality standards of works are very high, as is the level of photographers on this platform. It can be used on IOS, Android and Windows devices. For people like me it’s a great place to both find inspirational photos, discuss how they were taken, and to gain useful insight into which of your photos resonate with other photographers of similar styles, and what it was about the photo that they liked. This forces you to only post photos that you think are worthy of review, which in turn keeps the overall quality level high. There are awards and levels that you receive as you get more of the typical social factors like favorites, repics (like a retweet within the platform), and engagement (comments), as well as things like number of countries your photos were taken in and other less common items. The EXIF data, tagging and geotagged information is also displayed along with your image. Your work can be shared by you or others to any of the existing social networks. It also has a Lightroom plugin so you can upload directly from within the application which is quite handy. Who Will You Find On YouPic? There is a huge passionate community of photography enthusiasts from all of walks of life. Amateurs to super professional photographers, it looks to be the new hot spot for photographers. Photographers like Adam Hinton and David Harrow even have a profiles on YouPic, that says a lot to me! How Much Does It Cost?   Terms and Conditions Reading the About Page, Terms & Conditions, Privacy, YouPic seems to have their hearts in the right place. It is really encouraging to read in large letters, that photographers keeps all their rights to their works. How Does It Work? It did not take more than a few seconds after uploading my first work, that I started to receive positve responses and repics (which is like a re-tweet) and feedback based on composition, creativity, technical quality and content. Everybody is looking for something called Inspiration Stars on YouPic. When you acquire those, the human curators choose your image to be featured. You will also receive many more views and love on the special feed called Inspiration. There is also a shop feature which I havent set up yet, as I have been using YouPic for less than a week, but are planning to do so soon. The Shop is commission free, which means that I will get 100% of the revenue I make. My Take On Social Media Platforms Social media is an amazing vehicle to reach out to people instantly! Prior to the digital age, one had to work so much harder to get your name out there and to be noticed, now it's so much easier; and the competition bar can be raised even higher in the race to be the top dog in any game. In today's world, it is all about instant gratification, people dont have time to wait for a roll of film to be processed, they want the digital image today! It is good to have a presence online and a must. Personally, I do not have the time or desire to be feeding 20 different platforms and I have been very selective in what I have chosen to use for my photographic business. Facebook has the strongest social media following internationally since its inception in 2004. I use this as my main presence, followed by Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Twitter and Instagram are brilliant if you are shooting at a sporting event, capturing the moments now, and later competitors can see your snaps and tags and get in touch with you afterwards for images that you may have to sell. LinkedIn for me a great place to showcase my work as a business. I have now since discovered YouPic, and are very impressed with what I see and how it works! This is by no means a fully comprehensive review of the platform, I can say I am inspired by the works I have seen and are in this one for the long haul. Do give it a try and follow me here as well. Conclusion This is a fantastic platform to be discovered, seen and noticed by the photography community and by photographic consumers. Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe


Social Media Banners – Your Billboard On The Internet Highway

Social Media Banners - Your Billboard On The Internet Highway By Craig Fouché Your social media banners are your billboards on the internet highway, no matter which channel you use! Nothing more nothing less! If you are wanting to put yourself out there, design something professional that will spark interest and let you stand out from the rest of the crowd! Sell your brand well, first time, every time! I had a lightbulb moment the other day after doing a shoot for a client that needed updated advertising content for their billboard in the city where I live. Far too often, including me, we post a "nice" image up on our banner on Facebook and it may stay there for quite some time. We endeavour to generate as much internet traffic through the social media channels we use, as it is ultimately advertising that we are doing to potential vendors out there to make use of our skills and services. That's when the penny dropped! It is no different to you driving down a busy highway and seeing a giant billboard advertising a brand, idea, product or service. Some billboards are punchy and eye-catching, others very quirky and punny, as well as funny, and others that are seriously bland. I recall about 15 years ago in Pretoria, seeing a large billboard advertising luxury cars and the slogan was "7>6" that is 7 is greater than 6 and that the BMW 7 series was greater than the Audi A6. Mathematically it is true, 7>6. Ultimately BMW was trying to say that their brand of luxury cars was better than Audi, albeit both are German manufacturers. Clever advertising like this stands out and makes you think, yes, seven IS greater than six and you don't forget it. In response to this, 500m down the same highway, Audi responded with "8 is better than 7"! They weren't taking this one lying down, they were saying their A8 was better than the 7-series BMW! How much different aren't we as photographers when it comes to selling our skills and brand when competing against a newbie who has just walked into a camera store, bought an entry level setup and is suddenly a professional? You have taken time to build a brand, a name for yourself, why shouldn't it show in every dimension of what you do and who you are. If you are professional, show that be noticed, stand out from the rest of the crowd! YouTube is a great source of information, use it if you stuck with a skill that you need to learn when designing in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator or Indesign. Adobe has a great tutorial on How to amp up your Facebook profile, which is easy to follow and will help you to get your creative juices flowing. Follow seasonal trends as advertisers do when it comes to marketing. An example could be Valentines Day, change your banner to reflect that sale for that event and brand it accordingly. The first thing any visitor is going to see are your social media banners when they search for you on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram etc. Make an impact the first time so that your visitor likes, stays, uses your services and recommends you to someone else. Below are some examples of Facebook social media banners that I have designed for my client and my page: Manic Cyles Worcester Craig Fouché Photography Social Media Banners Craig Fouché Photography Social Media Banners Craig Fouché Photography Social Media Banners   Craig Fouché Photography Social Media Banners How to Design Social Media Banners The ideal designing size for Facebook is 1920 x 1080px. Yes is way deeper than the traditional letterbox size, it is however a 16:9 aspect ratio which is also the size for HD video. Well, what has this go to do with Facebook you may ask? We are now able to upload videos as an alternative to photos to the banner, and slideshows too. The OLD shallow letterbox size (which you’ll still see recommended by a lot of people) is: Groups: 820 x 250 (we recommend you create this in 1920 x 1080) Pages: 820 x 312 (we recommend you create this in 1920 x 1080) Personal Profile: 851 x 315 (we recommend you create this in 1920 x 1080) Universal recommended size for all all Facebook cover photos (Page, Group and Profile): 1920px x 1080px Aim for a high resolution, as there are users out there with retina displays, futureproof yourself by sticking with 1920 x 1080 px; 820 x 461 px still looks the sharpest on older screens. The upside is a lovely deep photo to play with that renders in all its depth on mobile. However, on desktop it gets cropped a little. These deep dimensions give the best view on mobile as it uses the entire photo and gives you the largest area possible for the photo on the native app. It also gives you a larger area for any text that Facebook itself places on top of the photo in some scenarios. As you don’t have an option to upload different variants for mobile vs desktop rendering you need to be concious of where your photo will get cropped on different devices. Keep text to the safe area and ensure that nothing else in the picture looks weird when savagely cropped. View sizes for Facebook Groups, Pages and Profiles This is how the different photos actually surface on different devices. Facebook Group cover photo dimensions: Overall –  820px x 461px Mobile – 640px x 360px Tablet – 820px x 303px Desktop – 820px x 332px (1640px x 664px Retina Display) For all the above create your image as 1920px x 1080px Facebook Page cover photo dimensions: Overall – 820px x 461px Mobile –  640px x 360px Tablet – 820px x 391px Desktop – 820px x 312px (1640px x 624px Retina Display) For all the above create your image as 1920px x 1080px Facebook Profile cover photo dimensions: Overall –  851px x 479px Mobile – 640px x 360px Tablet – 851px x 406px Desktop – 851px x 315px (1702px x 630px Retina Display) For all the above create your image as 1920px x 1080px Also be aware that what you see will also vary on which browser/app variants you are using. Facebook treats each of these three variants differently: Tablet browser and desktop web browser (eg Safari/Chrome) Mobile phone web browser and tablet native Facebook app Finally the native Facebook phone app This is where we really are with Alice down the rabbit hole) the photo is then cropped differently depending on where it surfaces – eg as a recommended Group vs on the Group’s home url. Saving And Optimising Your Photo For Facebook – Recommended Software It is important to optimise the photo correctly – a lot of  image problems are to do with poor optimisation. It is recommended using a .jpg for optimum resolution at the smallest file size. The best way to do this is using something like Adobe Photoshop and exporting the image with ‘save for web’ as this will optimise the image better and give you a smaller file size. If you don’t have Photoshop there are several free services online that you can use. Most of the photo libraries have photo editors on their sites now. Try https://www.shutterstock.com/editor which has plenty of social media templates and enables you to edit and resize your own images for free (i.e. they don’t have to be Shutterstock pictures). Another excellent tool to use is Adobe Spark, as a Creative Cloud user, this is part of your package. For a Photoshop Social Media Banners template for Google+, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn click here to download. Disclaimer: Social media sizing dimensions and information found on various sources on the internet. Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe


Astrophotography – PhotoPills – Guide To Meteor Showers in 2018

A Guide to the Best Meteor Showers in 2018: When, Where and How to Shoot Them By Rafael Pons Here is a very informative guide by the guys at PhotoPills, who, as far as I am concerned are the industry standard for astrophotography apps. All credits in this blog belong to the authors, none of these works are mine. Their guides are very helpful,so  be sure to enter your valid email address to receive one. You’re about to learn all you need to enjoy watching and shooting one of the best late-night shows served by nature: Meteor Showers. Meteors are caused by streams of cosmic debris entering the Earth's atmosphere at extremely high speeds. Smaller fragments burn in the atmosphere producing a “shooting star”, but the bigger ones can really produce an amazing big fireball. And when the space rocks (meteoroids) of the Perseids, the Geminids or any other powerful meteor shower enter Earth’s atmosphere, you’d better be ready for a great night of shooting stars. My goal with this article, using the same words that the night photography Master Lance Keimig uses in his most famous book, Night Photography and Light Painting, is to help you: "Find your way in the dark" Get the whole Meteor Showers ebook for FREE now!     Content Meteor shower calendar for 2018 Where to look or frame: the radiant? The Meteor Showers’ key information How to shoot a meteor shower Inspiring meteor shower images We’re rewarding creativity 1 Meteor shower calendar for 2018 The following table gives you all the key information about the most important and active meteor showers in 2018: Pay attention to the Moon phase percentage during the peak night. The more phase the worst conditions for the watching and shooting. As you see on the table, moonlight will be blocking the Quadrantids, Eta Aquariids, Delta Aquariids and Orionids. While, the conditions will be great for the Lyrids, Perseids, Leonids and Geminids. Finally, the table also provides both the Radiant and constellation of origin of each meteor shower to help you know where to look or frame your camera. 2 Where to look or frame: the radiant? During the meteor shower, you’ll observe that meteors radiate from one point in the night sky. This spot is called the radiant. Each radiant (the point of origin from where the meteors appear to converge) is located within or near the constellation that give the name to the meteor shower. For example, the radiant of the Geminids meteor shower is located in the constellation of Gemini, near the Castor star, one of the brightest stars in the night sky. But you don’t have to look in the direction of the meteor shower's radiant point to see the most meteors. Meteors can appear in all parts of the sky. If you decide to introduce the radiant point in your frame and trace the path of the meteors backwards, you’ll realize that all meteors appear to converge to one single spot in the sky. In this case, if you're lucky enough to capture many meteors, you can create a stunning effect by using the technique described in this video by David Kingham for image post-processing. By using David’s technique, Antoni Cladera (aka, the Photographer) could built the awesome cover image of this article. I love this effect. How can you locate the radiant? The position of the radiant in the sky is defined by two coordinates: Right Ascension and Declination. Declination is the vertical angular distance between the center of a celestial body and the celestial equator. A declination of +20º means that the celestial body is located 20º north of the celestial equator. The south polar cap is at a declination of –90º, the equator is at declination 0º, and the north polar cap is at a declination of +90º. Declination is to a celestial globe as latitude is to a terrestrial globe, a vertical positioning of an object. Right Ascension is the angular distance measured eastward along the celestial equator between the vernal equinox and the celestial body. Together with Declination, it defines a position of a celestial body in the sky. It is measured in hours (1h equals to 15º), minutes and seconds. Yes, I know, both coordinates have horrible names and even worse definitions. The good news is that you don’t need to understand the theory to use PhotoPills’ Night Augmented Reality tool to locate the exact position of the radiant in the sky given by Right Ascension and Declination. Take a look at the following video to learn how to do it. We help you locate the radiant of the Perseids (Right ascension 3h 4m, Declination +58º). It’s easier that it seems, I promise ;) Once you’ve located the radiant in the sky for both the beginning and the end of the shooting, you’ll know exactly the path the radiant will follow. Then, you'll be able to frame at the right area of the sky to create an image with the same effect than David Kingham's. 3 The Meteor Showers’ key information The Quadrantids, January 1-6 The Quadrantids, well known for their bright fireball meteors, which produce larger explosions of light and color, are also known to be tricky. With a Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) reaching 120 meteors per hour, the Quadrantids could be the most powerful shower of the year. But it turns out that the peak only lasts a few hours, which makes it difficult to catch. The shower runs from January 1 to 6. The best night for the watching is the one between the 3 and 4. The Peak has been predicted for January 3 at 20h UTC. This is not a good year for the Quadrantids, the Moon, with a phase of 98%, will block the stars. Unfortunately, this meteor shower is only visible from the northern hemisphere. These meteors are not visible from the southern hemisphere. Highlights: When: January 1-6 2018 Best night: January 3-4 Peak: January 3 at 20h UTC Moon Phase: 98% (poor viewing conditions) Number (ZHR): 120 Meteors/hour Meteors velocity: 42 km/s Origin (radiant): constellation Boötes Radiant coordinates: Right Ascension 15h 28m, Declination +49.5º Associated Asteroid: 2003 EH1 Northern Hemisphere: Medium rate Southern Hemisphere: Not visible The Lyrids, April 16-25 With a Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) of just 20 meteors per hour, the Lyrids is an average shower. It runs from April 16 to 25. The best night for the watching is the one between the 22 and 23. The Peak has been predicted for April 22 at 18h UTC. This year, the crescent Moon will allow us to enjoy the show. This meteor shower is visible from both hemispheres. Although it’s weaker in the southern hemisphere. Highlights: When: April 16-25  2018 Best night: April 22-23 Peak: April 22 at 18h UTC Moon Phase: 38% (good viewing conditions) Number (ZHR): +20 Meteors/hour Meteors velocity: 48 km/s Origin (radiant): constellation Lyra Radiant coordinates: Right Ascension 18h 08m, Declination +32º Associated Comet: C/1861 G1 Thatcher (comet discovered in 1861) Northern Hemisphere: Medium rate Southern Hemisphere: Low rate Eta Aquariids, April 19 to May 28 The Eta Aquariids is known for its high percentage of persistent trains, but few fireballs. It’s usually a very active meteor shower when viewed from the southern tropics. Its Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) is 55 meteors per hour, but it gets down to 10-30 from the equator northward. It runs from April 19 to May 25. The best night for the watching is the one between May 6 and 7. The Peak has been predicted for May 6 at 8h UTC. Trying the night before and after is also a great idea. The Moon, with a phase of 61%, will be an issue this year. It might block part of the meteors. So, use PhotoPills to check the time the moon will set in your location and get ready for the show. You never know what can happen! The meteor shower is best visible from the southern hemisphere. It’s also visible from the northern hemisphere but at a lower rate. Highlights: When: April 19 to May 28  2018 Best night: May 6-7 Peak: May 6 at 8h UTC Moon Phase: 61% (poor viewing conditions) Number (ZHR): +55 Meteors/hour Meteors velocity: 66 km/s Origin (radiant): constellation Aquarius Radiant coordinates: Right Ascension 22h 32m, Declination -1º Associated Comet: 1P Halley Northern Hemisphere: Medium rate Southern Hemisphere: Good rate Delta Aquariids. July 12 to August 23 As it happens with the Eta Aquariids, it’s better to watch this shower from the southern tropics. With a Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) of 20 meteors per hour, do not expect to see many meteors. It runs from July 12 to August 23. The best night for the watching is the one between July 29 and 30. The Peak has been predicted for July 30 at 11h UTC. This is not a good ear for the Eta Aquariids, the Moon, with a phase of 96%, will block the stars. The meteor shower is best visible from the southern hemisphere. But it’s also also visible from the northern hemisphere but at a lower rate. Highlights: When: July 12 to August 23 2018 Best night: July 29-30 Peak: July 30 at 11h UTC Moon Phase: 96% (poor viewing conditions) Number (ZHR): +20 Meteors/hour Meteors velocity: 42 km/s Origin (radiant): constellation Aquarius Radiant coordinates: Right Ascension 22h 40m, Declination -16.4º Associated Comet: Unknown, 96P Machholz suspected Northern Hemisphere: Medium rate Southern Hemisphere: Good rate The Perseids, July 17 to August 24 The Perseids is considered to be the best meteor shower of the year. With a Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) of above 100 meteors per hour, the night of the peak is usually epic. It runs from July 17 to August 24. This year, the best night for the watching is the one between the 12 and 13 of August. The Peak has been predicted for August 13 at 01h UTC. It’s a good idea to give it a try also the nights between the 11-12 and 13-14. The moon, with a phase of 3%, will give us the opportunity to enjoy a big show. The meteor shower is visible and intense in both hemispheres. Highlights: When: July 17 to August 24 2018 Best night: August 12-13 Peak: August 13 at 01h UTC Moon Phase: 3% (good viewing conditions) Number (ZHR): +100 Meteors/hour Meteors velocity: 60 km/s Origin (radiant): constellation Perseus Radiant coordinates: Right Ascension 03h 04m, Declination +58º Associated Comet: 109P/Swift-Tuttle (comet discovered in 1862) Northern Hemisphere: High rate Southern Hemisphere: High rate The Orionids, October 4 to November 14 The Orionids are associated to the comet 1P/Halley, the same that’s associated to the Eta Aquariids in May. It’s an average shower with a Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) of just 20 meteors per hour. It runs from October 4 to November 14. The best night for the watching is the one between the 21 and 22 of October. The Peak has been predicted for October 22 at 03h UTC. Unfortunately, the moon, with a phase of 91%, will block the stars. The meteor shower is visible in both hemispheres. Highlights: When: October 4 to November 14 2018 Best night: October 21-22 Peak: October 28 at 03h UTC Moon Phase: 91% (poor viewing conditions) Number (ZHR): +20 Meteors/hour Meteors velocity: 66 km/s Origin (radiant): constellation Orion Radiant coordinates: Right Ascension 06h 20m, Declination +15.5º Associated Comet: 1P/Halley Northern Hemisphere: Low rate Southern Hemisphere: Low rate The Leonids, November 5 to 30 The Leonids has a peak above 100 meteors/hour every 33 years. The last great peak occurred in 2001, so we’ll have to wait until 2034! Usually, It’s an average shower with a Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) of just 15 meteors per hour. It runs from November 5 to 30. The best night for the watching is the one between the 17 and 18 of November. The Peak has been predicted for November 17 at 23h UTC. The Moon, with a phase of 62%, will be an issue this year. It might block part of the meteors. So, use PhotoPills to check the time the Moon will set in your location and get ready for the show. The meteor shower should be visible in both hemispheres. Highlights: When: November 5 to 30 2018 Best night: November 17-18 Peak: November 17 at 23h UTC Moon Phase: 62% (good viewing conditions) Number (ZHR): +15 Meteors/hour Meteors velocity: 71 km/s Origin (radiant): constellation Leo Radiant coordinates: Right Ascension 10h 08m, Declination +21.6º Associated Comet: 55P/Tempel-Tuttle Northern Hemisphere: Low rate Southern Hemisphere: Low rate The Geminids, December 4 to 16 For many astronomers, the Geminids is considered to be the queen of the meteor showers. The comet 3200 Phaethon is the cause of this meteor shower. With a Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) of +120 meteors per hour, you can expect to see a good number of bright meteors. It runs from December 4 to 16. The best night for the watching is the one between the 13 and 14. The Peak has been predicted for December 14 at 13h UTC. This year, the waxing crescent Moon will not be a problem for the watching. Use PhotoPills to check the rise and set times, and choose the best time for the shooting. It’s visible from both hemispheres. Although it’s weaker in the southern hemisphere. Highlights: When: December 4 to 16 2018 Best night: December 13-14 Peak: December 14 at 13h UTC Moon Phase: 35% (good viewing conditions) Number (ZHR): +120 Meteors/hour Meteors velocity: 35 km/s Origin (radiant): constellation Gemini Radiant coordinates: Right Ascension 07h 28m, Declination +32.2º Associated Asteroid: 3200 Phaethon (discovered in 1982) Northern Hemisphere: High rate Southern Hemisphere: Medium rate 4 How to shoot a meteor shower In case you plan a night scape to shoot one of the meteor showers, the following recommendations will help you get started with the shooting: Location: Go into an area with little light pollution. Framing: Make sure you’re framing the right area in the sky. You can use PhotoPills’ Night Augmented Reality tool to locate the radiant of the meteor shower. Focal length: Use the widest angle lens possible (at least 14mm) to capture the most area of the sky. Aperture: Use a fast lens to collect as much light as possible. An aperture of f/2.8 is great. Focusing: Focus at the hyperfocal distance. Make sure you’re not focusing at a shorter distance, because you’ll get stars completely blurred, even if you miss it by one inch (2.5cm). It’s much better to make focus exceeding the hyperfocal distance by 2 feet rather than falling short. You can calculate the hyperfocal distance with our on-line Depth of Field calculator. Also, learn all you need to know about hyperfocal distance and depth of field with our extremely detailed DoF Guide. ISO: Set the ISO to the maximum level that your camera allows without getting excessive noise (ISO 1600 or higher is recommended). Exposure time: Use PhotoPills' on-line Spot Stars calculator to calculate the maximum exposure time to get stars as bright spots. Usually, you’ll get a value between 20 and 35 seconds, depending on the camera and lens used. White Balance: With no light pollution, I recommend you to use a WB between 3,400K and 4,000K. Interval: Use a shooting interval between 2 and 5 seconds to try to capture the maximum amount of meteors.    Regarding the equipment, in Step 7 of our tutorial “How to Shoot Truly Contagious Milky Way Pictures”, you’ll find all you need no matter your level of expertise or budget. Make sure to take a look at it. But, knowing the camera, lens and tripod you’ll need is only the beginning. I recommend you to also bring with you at least one heater strip to fight dew back! One of the most annoying aspects of night photography is dealing with dew. Moisture in the air can condense on the cold front surface of your lens, and ruin the photos. Getting a heater strip is a great way to save the night. The good news is that heater strips are very cheap (see again “Equipment against moisture” in step 7). Perhaps, the two most popular heater strip brands are Dew-Not and Kendrick. I use a Dew-Not 3" DN004, which perfectly fits my Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8. This model has a length of 13" (33cm), enough for the diameter of the lens. Make sure you buy a strip that can go around the entire circumference of the lens. You’ll also need a portable battery and a cable connector.   Dew heater Dew-Not 3" DN004 connected to a portable battery. Need more help? Take a look at our articles How To Shoot Truly Contagious Milky Way Pictures and The Definitve Guide to Shooting Hipnotic Star Trails. You'll learn everything you need to imagine, plan and shoot stunning photos of the stars. And if you wish to learn face to face with us, the whole PhotoPills Team, along with a selected group of photography masters, don't miss the PhotoPills Camp! 5 Inspiring meteor shower images From stacking a great number of photos to create David Kingham’s effect or a powerful star trails image, to putting together a timelapse video, spending the whole night shooting a meteor shower can be very productive from the creative side. The following images and videos are the outcome of the Geminids Meteor shower in 2015. It was on Monday, December 14 2015, around 10pm local time, when the clouds disappeared from above our heads, leaving us face to face with one of the most active meteor showers we remember. We spent the next 5 hours shooting and enjoying the show. What an epic time! Timelapse The timelapse is the result of playing 647 still images at 24fps. Nikon D4s | 14mm | f2.8 | 30s | 5000 ISO Star trails   Staking of 647 photos. Nikon D4s | 14mm | f2.8 | 30s | 5000 ISO You can create stunning star trails by merging a series of short exposure photos into a single image using softwares like StarStaX (Mac, Windows, Linux) or Startrails (Windows). Meteor Exploding Who has seen the explosion of a meteor in the sky? We did! And with a smoky tail :) You never know what your camera will capture during the night. Each night scape is a different adventure. Converging Meteors   Nikon D4s | 14mm | f2.8 | 30s | 5000 ISO The image is the result of stacking 120 photos using David Kingham’s technique. To create this stunning effect, every photo has been rotated around Polaris to keep the radiant point of the meteor shower in the same place. This proves that all meteors appear to converge from one single point in the sky: the radiant.   Happy Showers! All photos in this articles have been taken by Antoni Cladera.  Newsletter Please subscribe me to your newsletter informing me of all new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe


The Eight Major Meteor Showers Coming to South Africa in 2018

The Eight Major Meteor Showers Coming to South Africa in 2018 If you enjoyed Geminids this month, this will be right up your street, here are the eight major meteor showers coming to South Africa in 2018. By Tom Head   Image Credits: Pixabay / Pexels There is something so tangibly beautiful about meteor showers. They are a reminder of just how magnificent our universe is, illuminating our night skies as part of a breathtaking cosmic ballet. We all enjoyed the Geminids shower that lit up the darkness this month, so we got to thinking: When will we see something like this again? We come bearing good news… There are eight major meteor showers coming our way in 2018. So if you’re an old romantic, or a long-time stargazer, you’re going to have to make some plans for the new year. There are some stunning shows on their way to us from across the galaxy. Put the smartphone down, and treat yourself to something truly special. Meteor showers in South Africa 1. Quadrantids Meteor Shower, January 2018 When? Quadrantids wastes little time in christening 2018 with a beautiful display of shooting stars. From the 1st – 5th January, the shower will be visible from South Africa. The peak date will be Wednesday 3rd January. Meteors per hour? You can spot around 40 an hour during its peak phase Visibility? Not great. The Full Moon on the night on the 1st and 2nd of January will make for a brighter night sky, drowning out up to 80 percent of visible meteors. You have a fighting chance on the third though, as the moon dulls and Earth moves closer to the shower itself. 2. Lyrids Meteor Shower, April 2018 When? This is an annual shower that runs between 16th – 25th April. The night of the 22nd going into the morning of the 23rd will be your peak viewing time. Meteors per hour? This is a more reserved shower, and around 20 meteors can be spotted within a sixty-minute period. Visibility? It’s a good forecast. There will only be a ‘quarter-moon’ in the sky during the peak viewing hours. When that sets, it will leave a dark sky to compliment the bright dust trails flying off the meteors. 3. Eta Aquarids, May 2018 When? The first signs of this shower come during Lyrids, on the 18th April. Meteors from Eta Aquarids have been spotted as late as the 29th May. However, their peak date will be the 6th May, going into the early hours of the 7th. Meteors per hour? This year it’s likely to be just 30 an hour, but can peak to 60. Visibility? The further south you are, the more likely you’ll see it. A “waning gibbous Moon” will already be illuminating the sky, reducing visibility from its normal level. We have it on good authority from Seasky that there should be ‘a few good ones’ that are easy to spot. 4. South Delta Aquarids, July 2018 When? The shower runs on a six-week cycle every year, from 12th July – 23rd August. The peak night for viewing will be the 28th July, through to the 29th. Meteors per hour? A steady rate of 20 an hour should keep the stargazers busy Visibility?   A full moon is threatening to limit what can be seen from space. However, the South Delta Aquarids is an incredibly bright offering, so you should still be able to see one of the best shows of the year. 5. Perseids Meteor Shower, August 2018 When? From the 17th July – 24th August, one of the best known meteor showers passes across Earth. It’s the 12th August when the night sky really lights up, though. Meteors per hour? It’s the event that perhaps provides the most value for your time invested. Up to 60 meteors can be spotted within an hour. Visibility? There’s a thin crescent moon which means visibility is excellent! 6. Orionids, October 2018 When? It goes from the 2nd October – 9th November, and the 21st October in the night to see this shower hit its peak. Meteors per hour? It can produce up to 20 visible meteors an hour, but these are all quite special. The meteors are all fragments of Haley’s comet, the cosmic marvel that appears in our skies once every 77 years. Visibility? Bad news, full moon. Great news is that Orionids is the brightest shower on the list. No matter what the moon is doing, nothing will stop us getting a good eye-full here. 7. Leonidis Meteor Shower, November 2018 When? This has a shorted run than most showers, but is no less spectacular. Leonidis is visible from the 6th – 30th November, reaching its peak on the 17th November. Meteors per hour? These meteors have a cyclic peak of 33 years, the last of which was reached in 2001. Although it will be a stronger display than 2017, there is still some way to go before it takes over the night sky again. Having said that, a fair 15 meteors an hour can be spotted on a dark evening. Visibility? The moon is setting early on the 17th, so any time after midnight will provide you with a dark background. This will be one of the clearer nights on the calendar 8. Geminids Meteor Shower, December 2018 When? Rounding off our list of meteor showers is Geminids. We were all treated to something spectacular this month. In fact, it was so good, Geminids has agreed to come back again next year. And the year after. And the year after. It’s an annual event, set to peak on December 13th next year. Meteors per hour? 120 an hour. There’s a reason we all lost our minds over this one. It’s the most breathtaking offering you can get from watching the stars, and next year will be no different. Visibility? We’ve got a good set up for Geminids 2018. A few South Africans were robbed this year when cloudy skies blocked their views, but everything should be going our way next December. Only a quarter-moon will be in the sky. We can’t wait another year! Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe


Travel – Sutherland – South Africa

Travel - Sutherland - South Africa Introduction At the drop of a hat, my wife and I decided to travel and visit this quaint little Upper Karoo town of Sutherland - South Africa over the Christmas holidays. During my booking, I was very surprised to learn that most of the B&B's were fully booked! Most travellers come from the North (Gauteng) and head to the sunny beaches and grand vineyards of Cape Town and the surrounds for their annual holiday break, and usually stop over at Gariep Dam or Beaufort-West. Sutherland on the R354, lies 110km from charming Matjiesfontein on the N1 / R354 junction. This is really an off the beaten track detour, which is off of the main N1 highway from Johannesburg to Cape Town; it was these travellers that had filled the B&B establishments of Sutherland! Saying that, Sutherland is experiencing a lot of visitors, those seeking the peace and quiet tranquillity of the Karoo. Map of the Western and Northern Cape What is the Karoo? The Karoo from a Khoikhoi word, possibly garo "desert" is a semi-desert natural region of South Africa. It broadly translates as “hard, dry, thirstland”. What this blunt rendition fails to convey is the special place the Karoo holds in the hearts of those who perceive beauty in its endless, sun-drenched spaces and flat-topped koppies (hills). They sense it in the evocative clunk of windmills urging sweet, untainted water from underground boreholes, and in isolated farmsteads where hospitality to travellers is a deeply rooted way of life. Windmill and Salpeterkop, Rogge Cloof, Sutherland Vast, remote, open spaces, silence, serenity and dramatic landforms combine with an extreme climate and unique vegetation to make up the alchemy called Karoo magic. The dust and wind, Petrus and Johannes with Vlekkie and Ou Boet the dogs returning with the sheep and goats in the evening to the kraal, Oom Karel Witbooi and Tannie Saartjie Plaaitjies and a few farmworkers from the neighbouring farms on their usual trek to town on their donkey cart are constant reminders that this is the Karoo. That’s what visitors fall in love with. There is no exact definition of what constitutes the Karoo, and therefore also not its extent. The Karoo is partly defined by its topography, partly its geology but, above all, its low rainfall, arid air, cloudless skies, and extremes of heat and cold. It formed an almost impenetrable barrier to the interior from Cape Town, and the early adventurers, explorers, hunters and travellers on the way to the Highveld unanimously denounced it as a frightening place of great heat, great frosts, great floods and great droughts. Today it is still a place of great heat and frosts, and an annual rainfall of between 50–250mm, though on some of the mountains it can be 250–500mm higher than on the plains. However underground water is found throughout the Karoo, which can be tapped by boreholes, making permanent settlements and sheep farming possible. Map of the Great and Little Karoo It’s made up of five regions and the boundaries are marked by subtle changes in vegetation: The Little Karoo Tankwa Karoo Moordenaars Karoo Upper Karoo Great Karoo In the south, the Southern Cape Fold Mountain Belt divides the Karoo from the wetter Cape region. To the west, the frontier is the Cederberg mountain range. To the east and north-east, the lines are drawn by the rolling grasslands of the Free State. And in the north, which is where you find Sutherland, the Karoo eventually gives way to kokerboom (quiver tree) country. The xerophytic vegetation consists of aloes, mesembryanthemums, crassulas, euphorbias, stapelias, and desert ephemerals, spaced 50cm or more apart, and becoming very sparse going northwards into Bushmanland and, from there, into the Kalahari Desert. The driest region of the Karoo is however, its south western corner, between the Great Escarpment and the Cederberg-Skurweberg mountain ranges, called the Tankwa Karoo, which receives only 75 mm of rain annually. The eastern and north-eastern Karoo are often covered by large patches of grassland. The typical Karoo vegetation used to support large game sometimes in vast herds. Today sheep thrive on the xerophytes, though each sheep requires about 4 hectares of grazing to sustain itself. The Karoo is sharply divided into the Great Karoo and the Little Karoo by the Swartberg Mountain Range, which runs east-west, parallel to the southern coastline, but is separated from the sea by another east-west range called the Outeniqua –Langeberg Mountains. The Great Karoo lies to the north of the Swartberg range; the Little Karoo is to the south of it. Great Karoo The only sharp and definite boundary of the Great Karoo is formed by the most inland ranges of Cape Fold Mountains to the south and south-west. The extent of the Karoo to the north is vague, fading gradually and almost imperceptibly into the increasingly arid Bushmanland towards the north-west. To the north and north-east, it fades into the savannah and grasslands of Griqualand West and the Highveld. The boundary to the east grades into the grasslands of the Eastern Midlands. The Great Karoo is itself divided by the Great Escarpment into the "Upper Karoo" (generally above 1200–1500m) and the "Lower Karoo" on the plains below at 700–800m. A great many local names, each denoting different subregions of the Great Karoo, exist, some more widely, or more generally, known than others. In the Lower Karoo, going from west to east, they are the following sub-regions occur: Tankwa Karoo Moordenaarskaroo Koup Vlakte Camdeboo Plains The better-known sub-regions of the Upper Karoo are: Hantam Kareeberge Roggeveld Nuweveld Though most of it is simply known as the "Upper Karoo", especially in the north. Little Karoo The Little Karoo’s boundaries are sharply defined by mountain ranges to the west, north and south. The road between Uniondale and Willowmore is considered, by convention, to form the approximate arbitrary eastern extremity of the Little Karoo. Its extent is much smaller than that of the Great Karoo. Locally, it is usually called the Klein Karoo, which is Afrikaans for "Little Karoo". Our Accommodation Jannie of the Blue Moon Guesthouse was able to roll a stone out of our way to accommodate us during this busy time at The Artist's Cottage, with meals at The Blue Moon Guesthouse. His guesthouse is a charming almost 100-year old sandstone Karoo house with five bedrooms and restaurant. His staff are very friendly and helpful. They serve the most delicious Karoo cuisine all day long, their breakfasts are either served indoors or out on the stoep / verandah, and the most filling, delicious farmstyle breakfast you could wish for! The Artist’s Cottage is one of the oldest houses in town, it doesnt look like much from the outside, step inside and be impressed. The cottage is a charming, typical Karoo-style building which has been renovated with a modern flair yet remains true to its original style! If you expecting modern, upmarket lodging from the likes of a Sandton B&B, forget it, this the Platteland where real hospitality and genuine friendliness is far better than the hustle and bustle of the city-slicker's expectation. Here you go back in time and to the real thing! The Artist's Cottage - Karoo Comfort The Artist's Cottage - Karoo Comfort The Artist's Cottage - Karoo Kitchen Platteland simple living at its best. Nothing is complicated here, it seems the most stress that anyone should endure is when the rains don't arrive on time, or where the snow has become too much - the diesel in your bakkie and the water pipes in your home freezes and you are unable to keep warm! The Blue Moon Guesthouse The tranquility and stillness of the afternoon, the slow turning of the windmill in the cool breeze, the chattering and chirping of the Karoo birdlife, these were the only sounds to be heard whilst we enjoyed tea on the stoep / verandah. Whilst sitting on the stoep, I was instantly reminded of my childhood, of the locally produced Afrikaans comedy drama - Koöperasie stories (1982–1987) set in a small Afrikaans town. This comedy was filmed on location in the mining town of Cullinan, about a very close-knit community always gossiping about each other, "Ja, so is die mensdom, Mietie!", with "Oom Genis" usually bearing the brunt of the gossip which starred Alex Heyns as Oom Botes, Jacques Loots as Genis, Marie Pentz as Mietie, Emgee Pretoruis as Veldsman and André Verster as Dominee. Earlier in the day, I had passed the closed famers Co-op in town, and this setting just reinforced those memories. Koöperasie stories History Sutherland was founded in 1723 as a church and market town to serve the area's sheep farmers. By 1872 the town had a population of 138 registered citizens living in 19 houses. The large Dutch Reformed church in the centre of Sutherland was built in 1899. The first Europeans to settle in the area were sheep farmers who got there via the Forgotten Highway (the road between Ceres and the Karoo), so called because it was the main highway to the north before the N1.   NG Kerk Sutherland During the Anglo Boer War, the church was used as a fort by garrisoned British soldiers. During the war a number of engagements between British and Boer forces occurred in the town. In one such engagement, a force of 250 Boer commandos attacked the local British garrison for 10 hours. The ruins of a fort can be found on the outskirts of town on the hill called Rebelskop. This was named after this engagement. As one enters the town from the Matjiesfontein side, the Anglo Boer War cemetery can be found on the left-hand side and can be visited. Economy Major economic activities include tourism and sheep farming. The area includes at least twelve registered B&B's, guest houses and guest farms. The nearby South African Astronomical Observatory also plays a significant role in the town's economy and is a major driver of tourism to the area. The town also has a number of bars, restaurants and an amateur astronomy observatory that service the tourism sector. Sutherland has recently gained in popularity, with many Capetonians buying property in the town and many more visiting on weekends and vacations. Our Experience The tiny Upper Karoo town of Sutherland - South Africa is a town with about 2850 inhabitants in the Northern Cape province. The main road is tarred, whilst the side roads are gravel adding to the Platteland charm that it oozes. There are a few well-known stores in town - OK Foods and PEP, butcher shops, a bank, post-office, two fuel stations, police station, church and a farmers co-op. It lies in the western Roggeveld Mountains in the Karoo. It is famously known as the coldest place in South Africa with an average yearly temperature of 11.3 °C and an average annual minimum temperature of 2.8 °C; although the farm Buffelsfontein holds the official lowest temperature record in the country, of −20.1 °C. Snowfall is common in winter. The coldest temperature recorded in Sutherland was −16.4 °C on 12 July 2003. Sutherland has a semi-arid climate and is well suited to sheep farming. It normally receives about 169mm of rain per year and because it receives most of its rainfall during winter it has a Mediterranean climate. The lowest rainfall (4mm) in January and the highest (28mm) in June. It is also called the ‘Gateway to the Universe’ as it is the location of the most powerful telescope in the Southern Hemisphere – SALT and has the best night skies in Southern Africa. The SAAO - South African Astronomical Observatory takes advantage of the local climate and remoteness of the Upper Karoo – an area that is flat and arid, and therefore cloudless, for most of the year and also very undeveloped with clear unpolluted and very dark skies – except for an inverted ‘blanket’ made of zillions of stars which looks like someone had thrown a bucket of glitter into the sky. It is located approximately 15km from town. Sutherland has its own Dark Skies reserve - Spaceport Karoo, which is South Africa's first and largest Dark Sky Reserve. While Sutherland is most famous for its stargazing and SALT, there are many other things to see, do or simply enjoy around this small town during the day. At 1450-1500m above sea level, snow is guaranteed in the cold winter months, as is a myriad of flowers after the summer rains re-awaken the Karoo. There are walking and mountain bike trails around the town, newer mountain bike trails being developed at Rogge Cloof as I write this blog, horse-riding and just enjoying the wide open space around you. If you looking for peace and quiet, you have found it! Your ears ring in the stillness of Sutherlands' quietness. During 2017, I had wanted to shoot the night skies with a few ideas in mind. This was my perfect opportunity to do so. Getting up early in the morning to shoot sunrises, is not my strong point. With a bit of gentle coaxing, my wife Dominique got me out of bed to capture the sun painting up the NG Church in town. I am glad I got up for it, as it is best photographed as a sunrise shot. It was a rather normal chilly morning for us, being summer, but a normal morning in Sutherland. I was intrigued by the old traditional Karoo architecture of the dorp, and captured a few images there too. Traditional Karoo Home I had contacted Rogge Cloof at the suggestion of my friend Francios of Manic Cycles Worcester, and met with André and Corlia, two wonderful hosts that have a heart and passion for the Karoo and Sutherland. Francios has supplied Rogge Cloof with 6 fat bikes that are very comfortable to ride, actually designed for snow, which will be great to ride in the winter snow and during the other seasons. We enjoyed a lovely afternoon chat and a game drive while I scouted for locations to shoot my night sky images. There are a variety of game and antelope at Rogge Cloof, that being Springbok, Eland, Grysbok, Gemsbok, Zebra, Black Wildebees, Caracal and Jackal, with more game to be introduced that originated from the area. The luxury accommodation is unique and very comfortable, a perfect place to own your own peace and quiet during your stay. Rogge Cloof Panorama My wife, Dominique and I setup before sunset, as I wanted to capture the Blue Hour. Springbok congregated around the windmill slaking their thirst just before nightfall. During that time André and Corlia were preparing the most delicious meal for us. I shot from around sunset to approximately 22h30, in between enjoying the fine dinner and Rogge Cloof's own locally produced Sutherland wines that had been presented. People always associate the Western Cape with wine, I was very surprised to learn that Sutherland is our only highest-altitude, semi-arid, coldest wine growing region in South Africa. Rogge Cloof boasts 3 wines which are produced using organic practices and are grown on the farm Kanolfontein, the vineyards were planted in 2004. One of the wines is from the Ceres Valley. The South African winelands encompass 27 diverse districts and some 77 smaller wards in total. I walked away with a few good images which I am happy with, it wasn't an entirely dark moon at the time of my shoot, that is why the the foreground was lit up in the way it was. The moon was in the last quarter phase. As time was short for us, I want to return again to capture more of what the Upper Karoo has to offer in the other seasons of the year, I have a few ideas in mind, so look out for my next blog on Sutherland when that trip has been completed. Milky Way Panorama Arriving at The Artist’s Cottage around midnight, after our shoot at Rogge Cloof, I was seriously impressed at how clear the stars shone in town, in spite of the few mercury vapour street lights that lit the streets. Sadly, the next morning after breakfast, we had to return home, but going home refreshed and inspired and all the better for our experiences in Sutherland. Sutherland NG Kerk - A Light in the Darkness The Artist's Cottage - Wishing Upon a Star In Conclusion As time was short for us, I want to return again, to leave the boundries of my regular radio station behind and tune into something different. I need to spend some more time there to capture so much more of what the Upper Karoo has to offer in the other seasons of the year. I have a few ideas in mind, so look out for my next blog on Sutherland when that trip has been completed. My focus was purely on landscape photography, I did not come away with any wildlife images, even although the birdlife in the area and game at Rogge Cloof is in abundance, I only brought along landscape lenses for this trip, which is another reason for me to return. Special thanks to André and Corlia of Rogge Cloof for your wonderful hospitality, and to Jannie of The Blue Moon, we plan to be back when it snows! Do show some love and support for these two venues should you decide to visit the Upper Karoo, you won't be disappointed! Acknowledgements Information sourced from various sources on the internet: Wikipedia, Rogge Cloof, Discover Sutherland, Wines of South Africa and Badisa for the Koöperasie stories image, all watermarked images are copyrighted and belong to Craig Fouché Photography. There are two gallieries for this blog, a monochrome and colour below. Click on the images below to view an enlarged single image. All my images are available for purchase as prints. Digital images can be used under license agreement. Should you wish to purchase or license my images, please click here for more information, so I can assist you with your needs. Newsletter Please subscribe me to your newsletter informing me of all new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe colour gallery monochrome gallery Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe


Studio Portraiture Shoot – Plus Size Model – Carine

Studio Portraiture Shoot - Plus Size Model - Carine My client Carine is a plus size model. She discussed her intentions to have a studio portraiture shoot with me in my studio, what she had in mind, her vision and end result. Between the many conversations and Pinterest ideas shared on Whatsapp, we came to settle for a three outfit wardrobe for her shoot. We didnt want a Plain-Jane shoot, but something that would have a polished feel about it, that felt classy, and with professional makeup. This is where Celeste of Celestial Makeup Artistry came in. She has just launched her business and has already worked for an event run by Guess in Cape Town at the Waterfront. Her website will be up and running in the new new year, so do look out for her; in the interim, follow her on Facebook. I can highly recommend her work, she is a qualified, passionate and talented makeup artist, whom I know personally and have worked with. Celeste did the makeup for Carine, which are top international brand names, and complimented her well. The lead up to the shoot was exciting for Carine, as well as daunting. Being a plus sized person, having never posed in front of a camera, let alone in a studio environment before, really started to get the nervous butterflies flapping inside her, yet courageously she pushed through with it, almost cancelling at the last minute. The response on Facebook, with the sneak peek was amazing and overwhelming to say the least! For me, seeing the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly experience Carine had, was amazing; that being both on an inward and outward level. I asked Carine to share her story, and she kindly did. This is Carine's Story "I wanted to say so much more, but it kept it short. As a little girl sitting in front of the mirror, putting makeup on, I stirred up the deep desire to become a model. I saw myself strutting down the runway, ozzing confidence, and would believe that I am beautiful, that size and shape didn't matter. The reality was, my confidence was only real in my dreams. For years I struggled with my plus sized body, and with that, the dream of being a model fell further and further away. About two years ago I realised like anything else in life, confidence is a journey. Seeing this photoshoot through, is yet another confidence trip in my life. It was like stepping on the edge of a mountain, poised to bungi jump . Your mind shouts NO! Your body YES, it will be fun, you will be fine. This will be exciting! I am all the better for taking this step to do this photoshoot, my confidence levels have been boosted, I feel so much better about myself, it was all worth it! Being in the studio is way more difficult than it looks, you are required to pose, twist, bend and arch in so many different ways to get the best results for your photo, I really have a new respect for photographers and how they work, and what all goes into a photoshoot! From a personal experience, it isnt easy being a plus-sized person, however, just like that little girl almost 40 years ago sitting in front of the mirror, I looked passed every wrinkle, freckle and blemish and allowed my confidence to rise up. For the first time in my life, I told myself: "YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL."   After viewing my photographs, this confidence trip has done more for me than any diet plan could ever have. I no longer see a fat woman, but one who is happy to face challenges boldy, and to take on whatever makes me feel alive!" In Conclusion A shout out to both Celeste for the great makeup, and Carine for not backing out. I really enjoyed this shoot, it was so worth it! I used a Nikon D5 with various short prime lenses and Elinchrom studio lighting. All editing in ACR and Photoshop. Click on the images below to view an enlarged single image. All my images are available for purchase as prints. Digital images can be used under license agreement. Should you wish to purchase or license my images, please click here for more information, so I can assist you with your needs. Newsletter Please subscribe me to your newsletter informing me of all new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe


Family Portraiture Shoot – The Smith Family

Family Portraiture Shoot - The Smith Family What a lovely family the The Smiths are! And a unique one too! It was an absolute pleasure to photograph this special family in my studio, as it was a family and maternity portraiture shoot all in one. We have known each other for approximately seven years now and a family shoot has been long in the making. They have a fantastic story to tell, and enjoy life to the full. Warren is an artist and a friend of note, someone I can always depend upon. Géne is a budding photographer and mom to be. Richard is a special child in many ways. Quite excitable, funny, intelligent and really nice to be around. As a family they enjoy the outdoors, going hiking in the Worcester mountains and surrounds, photography, capturing beautiful images of the Karoo and coast and enjoying life to the full. Their life is changing as they prepare for their new arrival. Richard is so excited, Géne has been documenting the progress of her pregnancy, while Warren has been busy preparing the nursery for the special day. This baby is extra special to them, because Richard's identical twin premature brother passed away at 2 months, while still being in hospital. This pregnancy really is a blessing and enormous gift. When Warren and Géne fell in love, it was love  at first sight and they will be celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary on Monday 9th October. Géne says: "It's great being married to my best friend!" I am looking forward to a follow up maternity studio session with Géne, just before baby is born, as well as once the baby is born. Come and celebrate this wonderful family with the images that have been captured. My gear I used for this shoot was a Nikon D5 and a Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G Lens. I also used two 165cm strip boxes by Phottix, along with my Elinchrom D-Lite RX 2/4 studio lighting. Click on the images below to view an enlarged single image. All my images are available for purchase as prints. Digital images can be used under license agreement. Should you wish to purchase or license my images, please click here for more information, so I can assist you with your needs. Newsletter Please subscribe me to your newsletter informing me of all new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe


Review – Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 About Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 Fujicolor Superia X-TRA 800 film from Fujifilm is a high speed daylight-balanced colour negative film offering a vivid tonal palette with accurate color reproduction in a variety of lighting conditions. It features a nominal sensitivity of ISO 800/30° along with a wide exposure latitude for use in an array of conditions, even under fluorescent lighting. The fine grain structure and high degree sharpness are well-suited to scanning and enlarging for printing purposes. In addition there is a good exposure margin, a good sharpness for this sensitivity, a decent grain and strong colours. This Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 film has made a good impression on me when shooting in a low light situation, in indoor areas or with a short exposure time. I usually shoot Kodak ColorPlus 200 colour film as my general go to film for everyday shooting of a wide variety of subjects. In 2008, Fuji made a revision to their earlier films, by adding in an extra layer to their films, a fourth layer called 4th Color Layer Technology. This works to faithfully bring out subtle shades of color and complicated patterns as the human eye sees it. All of the Fujicolor Pro films incorporate Fujifilm’s proprietary 4th Color Layer Technology, adding a cyan-sensitive layer (to the conventional red, green, and blue-sensitive layers) for a more natural rendering of delicate skin tones and neutrals, just as the eye sees them; and a more natural and balanced reproduction of color in varied lighting whether daylight, tungsten, fluorescent, flash, or mixed lighting. Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 film multi-purpose color negative film, with fine grain and outstanding color and sharpness. Ideal for fast-action sports, non-flash stage photography, and general use with compact zoom lens cameras. If you want something with more sensitivity, you can always grab a roll of Fujifilm Superia 1600 which can be pushed to ISO6400, depending on the results you would be looking for. I intend to shoot a roll or two of this film on some night time and Milky Way shots; at the moment, it is kept in the fridge until the conditions are right to do so. It is the fastest multi-purpose color negative film in the SUPERIA line and has a wide exposure latitude. Click here for the data sheet in a pdf format. My Experience with Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 Film Two weeks ago, I went out for the day with Kirsten Frost to do some bird photography at Intaka Bird Island and Rietvlei Nature Reserve Cape Town. I took along my Nikon F5 film body and a Nikon D4 digital body mated with a Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR Lens and Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III, Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-17E II and Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-20E III. We arrived early in the morning around 07h45 and the sun was just getting up for the day. The hide was not busy at Intaka at the time, and we were able to set up in a nice spot inside the hide. The light was very pleasing with a warm yellow glow over the ponds as the sun started to shine passed the buildings in the background. I swapped between both bodies during our shoot there, first with the Nikon D4 as the film speed was too slow for any action shots above 1/500 second. I waited for the right opportunity to switch to film, and began using my Nikon F5 film body. Although I own the Nikon F6 as well, I really do like using my Nikon F5, and find myself using it a lot more than the Nikon F6. This was THE film body of professionals, press photographers and the like in that era, a truly robust workhorse. People ask me, "Why film?" It is a simple answer. Anyone can shoot 14fps go back and check their memory card, click delete, and maybe keep one image out of that burst! But with film, you need to slow it down, think about your shot, compose, and make it count! From this roll of 36 shots, one was a complete miss when a Pied Kingfisher launched from a perch. I was not on continuous drive, and missed that shot. Instead I ended up with an empty perch! I paid NZ$25.00 for this roll of Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 film which is around ZAR240.00 for a roll of 36 exposures, development and scanning gets done at Orms in Cape Town, which translates to around R110. Using rapid fire on a roll of film is nonsensical and a complete waste of money. I do have quite a few keepers from this roll, that I would consider printing on canvas, and overall are very happy with the results of every single image. Click on the first thumbnail to activate the gallery. " template="/www/htdocs/w012c428/craigfouche.co.za/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/ngglegacy/view/gallery-carousel.php" order_by="sortorder" order_direction="ASC" returns="included" maximum_entity_count="500"] What impressed me as well, was the backwards compatibility of the modern Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR Lens to the Nikon F5. This is the first time that I am shooting a long G-series prime lens on an older generation body. I do own various D-series lenses, both primes and zooms, but nothing over 200mm. This was also the first time I got to shoot a roll of ISO 800 film and Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 film. In the earlier days I used to use Agfa Ultra 50, Optima 100, 200 and 400 professional film, and slide film as well, that being Agfa RSX 50 and 100, Fuji Velvia and Sensei which produced fantastic results. Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 Film With digital images one tries to shoot the best quality images with the least amount of noise at any ISO, and that is what you get at high ISO, noise! Film has grain, the higher the ISO the more grain you will get. Grain can add much texture, grittiness and feeling to an image, particularly in monochrome at ISO 3200 or higher if you push it  that far. As this was the first time to use Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 film, I was not sure how much grain I would get. I edit my images in Adobe Camera Raw (ADC) and Photoshop. To satisfy myself and the purists, I edited with and without a noise reduction plugin (it is plain to see which were edited), my go to plugin for noise reduction is Imagenomic. The results speak for themselves, the Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 film performed very well, is able to give amazing colour results under any lighting conditions, with and without the grain. I intend to shoot another roll of this film in the near future, but at night for astrophotography, hopefully I get some amazing startrails and Milky Way images from this film. Keep an eye out for my next blog on that review! Where to buy film? I have been importing film from both B&H in New York, USA; Nik & Trick Photographic Services in Kent, UK; Auckland Camera Centre in Auckland, New Zealand; and locally from Orms, and now particularly from The Film Guy who has a very wide range of lovely films in various formats available locally in South-Africa. If you haven't tried a roll of Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 film, or any roll of film, give it a try, your photography can only improve, don't just take my word for it, try it yourself! Disclaimer: All watermarked images are © Craig Fouché Photography 2017, other non-watermaked images are manufactures' images. Newsletter Please subscribe me to your newsletter informing me of all new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. 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Craig Fouché Photography | Experience A Celebratory Photographic Journey Of My Works
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