The countryside through our readers’ eyes and lenses. Here are this month’s four winning entries in our photographic competition.
If you missed our November winners, you can find them here.
This Month’s Image Club Judge
This month’s judge is Shaen Adey, a professional photographer and freelance journalist based in Cape Town. Her photography has taken her to some splendid places, which are not only documented in pictures, but etched in her mind. “Life is what you make of it while carrying a bag of Canons,” Shaen says. She recently added a drone to her collection, which has been an exciting learning curve. Shaen’s advice to new photographers is, take your intuitive image, then, if time allows, stop for a second and think about how to improve on what you have just captured. Play with your angle of view, exposure, and depth of field. Top tip from Shaen, and something many photographers are shy of, is go in closer. Unless the surroundings enhance the image, crop tight.
A R1 000 cash prize
Taken on a boat trip on the Okavango River in north-western Botswana, this magnificent image of a Fish Eagle coming in for a catch is pin-sharp and perfectly composed. The bird is on the thirds line, which leads the eye into the shot. Using a high shutter speed of 1/4000 froze the action, and while the eagle missed the target it’s still a great wildlife photo.
Photographer Elmarie Dekker
Camera Nikon D810, 200-500mm f/5.6 lens
Settings f/7.1 at 1/4000, ISO 1000
A R750 cash prize
What a brilliant image of a carpenter bee. Photographing small creatures has its challenges as it involves careful tracking, composing, focusing and exposure, with the correct depth of field. Japie cleverly pre-focused on the lavender, and as soon as the bee entered his viewfinder, he fired off a burst of shots. His patience was rewarded, and that the bee came in at the perfect angle was a bit of luck. A relatively wide aperture of f5.6 created enough depth of field so the main subject, the bee, is crisp and sharp, while the background is out of focus and therefore not distracting. The image was taken in golden afternoon light, which I love.
Photographer Japie Bornman
Camera Canon EOS 7D MKII, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lens
Settings f5.6 at 1/2000, ISO 1600
A R500 cash prize
The stunning colours make this image immediately appealing. Sunbirds are a great subject matter, and catching this Southern Double-collared Sunbird sipping nectar from a strelitzia, set against a bed of out-of-focus purple vygies, gives the photo its vibrancy. It’s also a well-executed shot. Sunbirds don’t sit around for long so you have to be quick to compose, focus and press the shutter. The composition would have been stronger if Brian had cropped in a little tighter on the left, so that the bird isn’t sitting slap-bang in the centre of the picture. It’s still a striking image.
Photographer Brian Suter
Camera Nikon D850, 500mm f5.6 lens
Settings f/5.6 at 1/2000, ISO 1100
A R250 cash prize
The female leopard in this photograph is walking towards the camera, which is a captivating angle of view. You can almost feel the cat’s eyes on you as it strolls regally through Sabi Sands bushveld in the late morning. A low aperture of f2.8 was a good choice, as it provides a limited depth of field so the predator stands out from the grass, yet the similar colouring of the subject and background give lovely muted tones.
Photographer Helgardt Pretorius
Camera Canon 5D Mark IV, 70-200mm lens
Settings f2.8 at 1/2500, ISO 125
How to enter
Think you can do better? Have you got a couple travel pics of the countryside that you’d like to share with us? Then head over to our Image Club entry form and throw your hat in the ring. Who knows? You might just be our next winner.