24 June 2012

How many Megapixels does One need for Great Photos?

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There are plenty of articles on that subject with mostly the same essence, “megapixel don’t matter or do they?”.
The newest
Nikon D800 seems to be the dream of every photographer. Eventually 36 megapixel for a reasonable price and the photos will be brilliant. If you are a fashion photographer and the images will be blown up to billboard size it matters, but are we all going that big? Besides that, the higher the number of megapixel the bigger the image files and the bigger and faster the memory cards need to be and the storage on computers and backup drives. It will take for ages to upload the images to the computer, the image software might slow down when dealing with the high amount of big files and the backup hard drive will be full quickly. For what all the trouble with the big files when the images will be in a family photo book? Not that the family photo book shouldn’t be of outstanding quality, but we won’t see the difference between 16 and 36 megapixels on this scale. Maybe its just the idea that we get more for less what let us being so excited, like 36 eggs for the price of 16. The D800 is a great camera with excellent technology, yet a great photo needs more than that and no megapixel can replace the skilled and intuitive photographer with the eye for composition and light. Team them up and the results are great, no matter 16 or 36 megapixel.
Happy snapping!

Ute Sonnenberg, www.rohoyachui.com

4x4 Safari Jeep vs. Minibus in Kenya's National Parks

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The Kenyan National Park authorities decided to ban minibuses from the parks effective from 2014. What does that mean and why are they doing it.
There are two sorts of
safari vehicles one can spot in the Masai Mara, the 4x4 Jeeps and the (mostly) Toyota minibuses or minivans. The minibuses are the cheaper safari transportation comparing to the 4x4 jeeps. They are just like the minibuses on the roads in any place in the world except from their hatch roof for the people to stand up for a good look at the wildlife. For the rest they are the same. From the technical point of view that means that they struggle on wet black cotton soil roads after the rain in the Mara (and other places) and get stuck easily. They are also not made to drive off road and on safari roads, which makes them not as comfortable and safe as a vehicle that was made for these conditions. Besides that the drivers are often not trained to drive in the bush and miss the knowledge of a safari guide. The minibus is the budget safari vehicle and that makes it a problem in two ways. They cause problems in the parks and they cannot deliver the safari experience a 4x4 can, but they enable more people to go on safari, because they are cheaper. This is a dilemma. People should be able to go on safari to experience this genuine beauty and nobody knows for how long it will be there. On the other hand a safari in a minibus is not quite a safari. A minibus feels like a minibus no matter where it drives, on the streets of Hamburg or in the Masai Mara, it does not allow the Africa feeling one actually comes for.
For all these reasons its good that the minibuses are banned from the parks, but what with the budget traveller? It can be better to safe money on the accommodation rather than on the vehicle. There are great camping safari opportunities with a 4x4 jeep that have even the advantage of having your own private 4x4 for the whole stay. It’s a great and genuine safari experience and it doesn’t have to cost much. Think about it when planning your safari trip to Africa.

Ute Sonnenberg, www.rohoyachui.com

No Cheating with The Light

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Did you ever have doubts, if the images in a coffee table book were really images from the Okavango Delta and not from the Kruger Park? Photoshop makes everything look a like, so why not in a wildlife photo book? Well there are vegetation and animals species that would spoil the trick, but more reliable is the light. Although the great wildlife destinations like the Masai Mara, the Okavango Delta and the Kruger National Park are all in sub-Saharan Africa, their light is completely different and recognizable in images. The light of the Kruger Park is more pale and harsh. It doesn’t have the warm depth of the light in the Okavango Delta and the Masai Mara, not even in the golden hour. The Masai Mara light is bright between the golden hours, but it got still this earthy tone to it only East Africa has and the warm light just after sunrise and before sunset is marvelous and distinguished from all other wildlife areas. The light in the Okavango Delta enhances in a beautiful way all colors and makes them greatly saturated and eye catching. And of course the color of the animals differs in different light. So even if you look at an elephant portrait of a clean elephant (no soil on his face) the light tells you where he was. No cheating possible.
Try it yourself and put some photo books or images from the Internet of the different areas next to each other and you will notice the difference. The light tells where they come from. And if not, there might be something not quite right. Light doesn’t cheat.
Happy light capturing!

Ute Sonnenberg, www.rohoyachui.com

Epic Drama: The Great Migration


We probably all know the images of the Great Migration from documentaries, photographs and travel brochures and somehow they all feel dramatic. Wildebeest bodies crowded on the Mara River bank, hesitating, restless, and anxious. Then one is brave enough to make the first move or just pushed by the crowd, jumping into the water of the Mara River for the greener grass on the other side, swimming, desperately trying to keep its head above the rushing water. More wildebeest pushing, jumping, calling, following the one in front and the river fills with a line of swimming animals. And then one goes head under, the next wildebeest tries to turn around, but the strong current won’t allow that, its struggling and then the other one comes up again, they carry on to the other side. There is pushing and panic and desperation, the path out of the water up the riverbank is tight. The others try to find another path up the bank, fall, try again and more wildebeest are pushing from the river. Finally the first of the herd reach the rim of the riverbank and run onto the grassland. They made it. Now turning around to see how the others are doing. Pushing, calling, panic, fear, yet this herd was lucky, no casualty to the crocodiles. They gained access to the green grass of the Masai Mara and they will do it again and again, bringing their offspring to the Great Plains for food and survival even if that means to face the river.
This epic drama draws not only crowds of animals to the Masai Mara, but also visitors who want to see it with their own eyes. And there is no documentary that can let you feel being there at the crossing with the big herds and their mission for food.
Its photographer’s heaven.

Ute Sonnenberg, www.rohoyachui.com

When Photography becomes the Best Therapy Ever

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Have you ever had such a day that nothing would work, all you touched fell into pieces, you had the feeling that nobody likes you anymore, business is not going to work and sun is shining never again? There are several ways of dealing with such a day. You can burst into tears and cry until you fall a sleep, start eating ice cream and chocolate until you drop, blame everyone and everything around you for your misery, throwing things and many more other destructive not helping ways of coping options. But there is one solution for everything, photography. Grab your camera or smart phone, go out into the park if you can or just use the environment where you are and start photographing what you see. If you feel so bad that you don’t want to see, then look away and just press the shutter. Keep doing it until you feel exhausted. That means whatever negative energy was in you will have drained. Now have a look at the images. There might be plenty of artistic images of a mug of floor lamp, photographed through angles you never tried before. And there will be plenty of “weird” images you don’t have an explanation for and want to erase. Do so, erase them. They were the disturbing energy you were struggling with for the whole day. Now you are left with your artistic images and if you want or not, you will feel inspired and positive, ready for a new sunny day.
Happy trying.

Ute Sonnenberg, www.rohoyachui.com