04 November 2012

Safari Story: The Loving Brother

photographic safaris south Africa Kenya Botswana Tanzania Namibia loving lion

Tsavo East is a huge National Park in Kenya with vast bush sections and a big elephant population. We were driving one morning to a waterhole, usually a place with a guarantee so see animals. When were already close to the waterhole we saw no animals at or around it and we looked at each other and had all the same thought, there must be a cat. When a cat is at a waterhole the other animals stay away and yes, there were two male lion drinking. What we didn’t see at first was that one lion looked very ill. He was incredibly skinny and could hardly walk. His brother was also skinny, but not injured and didn’t look ill.

We settled to watch them. It was a heartbreaking morning. The ill brother was obviously suffering a lot, he had difficulties with drinking and seemed very dehydrated. His brother stayed always with him, never left his side. When the sun got stronger they moved a bit away from the waterhole into the shade of a tiny tree. It took the ill lion for ages to walk the 50 meters to the tree. There they rested for a long time before they continued moving into thicker bush to hide from the sun and maybe to find some food. It was so sad to see the ill lion walking very slowly and weak with his brother on his side. It was very moving to see the healthy brother rather dying as well than leaving his brother behind. His ill brother slowed him down and with the weak brother as a “burden” he was obviously not successful with hunting, but he bared with him and stayed.

We watched them as long as we could see them moving into the bushes towards a little river that was running there and we hoped so much that they would bump into small and easy prey to fill their stomachs and to get some strength back.

I don’t know what happened to them, they could have died both or the ill lion could have died or with a miracle they could have survived both. Lets hope for the latter.

Ute Sonnenberg for

Make a Photo Book & Photo Magazine with Your iPhone

wildlife photography courses Kenya Tanzania south Africa Botswana magazine

Not that long ago I was wondering when there would be online tools to make eBooks with easy templates and sharable immediately in social media. I haven’t found yet something to work from the computer, but there are two cute iPhone apps that get very close to the idea.

Mixbook has a new app called Mosaic that allows you to make a photo book with your iPhone. You choose 20 images from your photo library and the app creates a virtual photo book from the selection. Then you choose a background color and shuffle the cover images and that’s it. Mixbook gets your photo book printed and delivered to where you want it.

The other app is
Beamr. It allows you to create a photo magazine from your iPhone. Just select images from your photo library, choose a cover, the app will add some text (you can change the cover text) and create your magazine.

Probably the nicest part is that you can share your magazine immediately and the recipients can save the images in full resolution. This app has still room for improvement, like the images cannot be arranged in any way and there is only one cover, but it’s already great to make this little cute magazine.

Check it out, its quick and easy done and its fun.

Ute Sonnenberg for

People behind Photographers like Steven Meisel

wildlife photography courses Kenya Tanzania south Africa Botswana meisel

Steven Meisel a press shy and amazing photographer from New York is famous for his fabulous fashion photography. He draws fantastic expressive compositions with his camera and his images have been many times on the covers of major fashion magazines.

Yet, behind a great photographer are also great people, like for example
Pascal Dangin, the founder and chief of Box Studios in New York. Some people say he is the most sought after retoucher in the industry, others call him the Godfather of Photoshop. The world of a retouch studio is somehow mysterious, because we usually only see and know the photographer. Get an insight view of Box Studios with the video Mike Saunders shot and if you would like to learn more about Pascal Dangin read here:

How is your postproduction doing? Yes, most of us are doing it all ourselves and maybe we can learn something from the specialists.

Happy learning!

Ute Sonnenberg for

Bond, James Bond: Shaken not Stirred Technology

wildlife photography courses Kenya Tanzania south Africa Botswana bond

Brace up for the new technology dazzling James Bond “Skyfall” movie, in the US theaters on November 9. What technology gadgets will fall out of the blue sky this time?

All James Bond movies are traditionally innovative in technology. “Q” always comes up with new fantastic gadgets to free Bond in hopeless situations. Yet, I cannot recall something incredibly amazing new from the Bond movies for photography. They use the brands, yes, and the brands use the movie, but no fantastic new photographic devise emerged from them, at least I wouldn’t know.

Maybe that will change when
photography becomes more and more a “tool” to us with applications we can’t even think of now. There are already the augmented glasses, face recognition and more, but where will this end? Copy and paste with our eyes through an implanted photo sensor? Some kind of a photographically steered wrist watch that that releases a poisoned arrow when the face recognition identifies the enemy even when he is hiding his face behind a mask, because the watch can take an image of the skull and run it through a database? Or is “Q”’s watch already doing that?

Well, lets see with what technology this movie is coming up with and if there is anything inspiring for photographers in it. And if not, the photography of the movies always showed great frames, inspiring composition and working with light.

Enjoy fantastic ideas!

Ute Sonnenberg for

Hone your instincts: Joel Meyerowitz, Photographer

wildlife photography courses Kenya Tanzania south Africa Botswana meyerowitz

A remarkable story to encourage all photographers and almost photographers: the life journey of the New York City–based photographer Joel Meyerowitz.

In 1962 Meyerowitz was working as an art director at an advertising agency when he watched photographer Robert Frank working on an advertising photo shoot. It proofed to be a cathartic moment for Meyerowitz. Back in the office he told his boss that he wanted to be a photographer.

“On the way back to the office, Meyerowitz walked the streets of New York for more than an hour. “I felt like I was reading the text of the street in a way that I never had before,” he says.
When he returned to the office, Meyerowitz told his boss, Harry Gordon, that he was quitting. He wanted to be a photographer. Gordon then asked him a crucial question: did he have a camera? The answer was no, so Gordon lent him a 35mm camera and Meyerowitz embarked on the great journey of his life.
That first day with Robert Frank served as more than just a catalytic inspiration; it laid the foundation for how Meyerowitz would record street life. He bobs and weaves through the throngs of people, searching for that serendipitous moment that becomes a great photograph. 

When he is shooting on the street, there isn’t much time to contemplate each moment. “Photography takes place in a fraction of a second,” Meyerowitz says. “There isn’t a lot of time to think about things. You have to hone your instinct. You learn to hone that skill and timing so you’re in the right place at the right time.” Although he has made images that have moved audiences for decades, that has never been his true motivation. “I’m not out there to make another ‘great picture,’” he says. “I’m really out there to feel what it feels like to be alive and conscious in that moment. In a sense, the record of my photographs is a record of moments of consciousness and awareness that have come to me in my life.”” (
via Time, by Nate Rawlings)

This life changing moment happened 50 years ago. For this anniversary Meyerowitz compiled hundreds of images into a two-volume book, Joel Meyerowitz:
Taking My Time (Phaideon Press).

From November 2, his work is been displayed at the
Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York.

Be inspired!

Ute Sonnenberg for

Fascinating Leopard: Who is she?

I met her first in January 2007. At that time she was a sub adult leopard of about 16 months old, called Vomba young female. The people in the game reserve give the offspring first the name of their mother until they establish their own territory. Then they get a name related to their territory.

This young lady had a brother, Vomba young male. The two were very different. The young female was a very confident girl, not afraid of anything, chasing hyenas away at this young age. The hyenas were most likely only surprised that this young leopard went after them; at least they looked like that. She was just the same cool lady as her mother, very beautiful and determined. Her father was the territorial male, a very strong short built beautiful male leopard. At this time he was in his best years and controlling a big area. Her brother was completely different from the rest of the family. He was shy, almost a bit neurotic, he would do queer things, but somehow also a bit sad. Maybe all the strong characters surrounding him were too much for his fragile personality. He was also always very uncomfortable in the presence of game vehicles, while his mother and sister were not bothered at all. The young lady’s mother’s territory includes the lodge and she does not care if there is a bush dinner in the parking lot of the lodge, she just walks passed it and guests can watch her from their tables. Well, this young leopard lady has definitely inherited her personality.

Since they were old enough to live by themselves, her brother was very rarely seen. The young lady instead is now a grown up beautiful leopard and mother, still in the area, neighboring her mother’s territory. She is still the strong personality and as
comfortable as always with vehicles. That doesn’t mean you can easily go and see her, she just does what she wants and if she wants to hide, she hides.

See some of her moments in life in pictures below.

Ute Sonnenberg for

photographic safaris south Africa Kenya Botswana Tanzania Namibia vomba1

photographic safaris south Africa Kenya Botswana Tanzania Namibia vomba2

photographic safaris south Africa Kenya Botswana Tanzania Namibia vomba3

All above pictures from February 2007.

photographic safaris south Africa Kenya Botswana Tanzania Namibia vomba4

January 2009

photographic safaris south Africa Kenya Botswana Tanzania Namibia vomba5

photographic safaris south Africa Kenya Botswana Tanzania Namibia vomba6

Two images above from December 2011.

Travel Memories 2008: On Safari in Africa - Day 10

photographic safaris south Africa Kenya Botswana Tanzania Namibia 10

After 9 days in a leaking tent and a long list of other unsolved basics we arrived around 10 a.m. at Lewa Downs Conservancy. Nairobi office was supposed to book me there for two nights, but didn’t. Anyway, they had a tent for me and I said good buy to Paul and Alex for two days. They went to Nairobi to get things sorted that we could reset the whole trip and have a fresh start.
Lewa Downs is beautiful. The landscape is made of rolling hills bordered by Samburu on one side and Mount Kenya on the other. It’s a Grevi’s zebra, rhino and cheetah paradise and it was a pleasure to drive there with only a few other vehicles. I stayed at the
Safari Camp, a tented camp with lovely bathrooms attached to the tents, a real luxury of dry tent with shower. It was also a chance for me to reset, to rinse out the anger and exhaustion of the last 9 days and to get ready for the second part of the trip. It gave me the time and peace to reflect on the last days and what I had learned. There was one conversation we had one night at dinner, which had impressed me a lot.
Paul and Alex are Kikuyu. The Kikuyu tribe lives from agriculture and it’s a custom that there has to be always enough food in the house to feed the family and unexpected visitors. They don’t throw food away and it makes them happy and proud when they can feed others. 
Paul said, in the village where he grew up was one family who had a TV and always when there was a football game, the whole village came to watch it at their place. He said this family was very lucky and I thought because they had a TV but he continued, because their food got eaten and not because of a TV. This was completely logical for him and I was quiet and touched by this approach. Thinking back to this conversation always helps me to put things in perspective and reminds me of the basic values of life. 

Ute Sonnenberg for