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Elephants are one of nature’s greatest, but most gentle giants. As humans we show an incredible lack of respect to these great mammals, failing to recognise their majesty and grace. Poachers, drought and man-made boundaries are threatening the lives of these amazing creatures. It’s heartbreaking to think how some people can stand in front of these giants, stare past the long beautiful eyelashes into their tiny glassy eyes and think of them nothing more than a trophy that’s there for the taking. We have had the privilege of seeing and communing with elephants both in the wild and at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Nairobi orphanage. It’s impossible for your heart not to break as your orphaned elephant grabs your finger with his exploratory trunk and looks into your eyes with a trust he’s only just beginning to understand. You cannot fail to shed a tear as you witness a new orphan being brought into the orphanage, scared, shaking and crying. In happiness? In sadness? I’m not sure. Ideally none of this would exist, no need for wildlife trust, replaced by an understanding and a safety. But in the absence of that, I have great appreciation for the work of

Review: The Nick Brandt Trilogy

This is a retrospective review of Nick Brandt’s three photography books published between 2005 and 2013, where unusually I will consume them all in one sitting. The final chapter arrived on my doorstep today (9 November 2013) and as it’s been several years since I’ve properly looked through the previous two, I want to review the whole backstory before unwrapping the cellophane. This is therefore a stream-of-consciousness blog, written as I explore the books. While there are some images included I have opted not to take shots of the primary photos, partly because I respect Nick’s copyright but mainly because I don’t think photography books should be spoiled by internet-ready third-party re-shoots of books which are expensive to produce and caringly conceived by editor and publisher. I know I want to re-read the books in sequence because I’ve seen the earlier work, I suppose, and regard it extremely highly – some of most captivating images of African wildlife, some of the most warming, and some of the most cruel. I know to do this also because I know – or assume – the way the story will “end”, because I know what has happened to Africa since 2000 when Nick

From the good old days…appreciating what you have

So, I’ve been spending some time in our photography archives recently, reviewing images taken many years ago that have been since banished to the depths of my hard drive. My hope was that I might previously have overlooked some gems which, ten years on and with a different eye, I might choose to resurrect and share here on Taraji Blue. Thankfully my effort was not wasted… Our photos from years gone by are such a departure from what we normally do – but rediscovering the SLR film images from 10 years ago is inspiring me to capture and portray techniques typically lost to DSLRS. I have spent so long chasing the dream of pixel perfect, sharp images that I have often forgotten what it’s like to be artistic with my images. This year’s Wild Photos conference taught me that a good picture isn’t always a technically perfect one – sometimes it’s a sense of place/environment or a sense of the moment which is more enthralling. People don’t just want to observe our travels and images – they want to feel a sense of what is it like to be there… What it’s like to stare a male bull elephant in

Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park – A Taraji Blue Trip Report

We’ve been receiving quite a lot of requests for advice about African safaris recently, which has inspired me to reshare links to our trip report for the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park in South Africa. We initially wrote this trip report as a HUGE thank you to everyone on the SANParks forums for their fantastic advice and support when we were planning the trip -without them this would not have been a trip of a lifetime. I urge you to join their forums if you’re planning a trip – their enthusiasm alone will have you counting down the days until your holiday starts 🙂 Day 1 in KTP  Day 2 in KTP Day 3 in KTP Day 4 in KTP Day 5 in KTP Day 6 in KTP Day 7 in KTP Day 8 in KTP Reflections on our trip to KTP The most incredible place to stay in KTP Nighttime in KTP The tale behind the leopards of KTP Images from our trip to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park are documented here. Enjoy – and safe travelling!

Stars And Spray

The Milky Way arcs downward to the raging seas of the Tsitsikamma coast, South Africa, passing rugged folds of quartzite (I think – I’m no geologist) gently lit by nearby cabins. This was also posted for +African Tuesday *African Rocks* on Google+ so let’s also assume a good proportion of these stars harbour planets or asteroids, many of which will be composed of rock! (and metals, and gas) Technically they aren’t African planetary rock formations yet, but Africa has the Southern African Large Telescope located in Sutherland, South Africa, and the Square Kilometre Array will be built across South Africa and Australia. So there’s a good chance that planets will be discovered through the lens of African “glass” and by my book that makes them African rocks. This is a mindblowing place to sit hidden among the rock folds for a few hours in the dark night, waves quietly crashing around, silence behind, millions of jewels shining above, and the galaxy slowly – noticeably – drifting across the sky. Technical notes: 15 seconds at probably f/3.2 or f/4.0 using the Samyang 14mm f/2.8 (manual aperture so not in Exif), which is an outstanding lens and great fun to use –