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Racket Tailed Roller
26 Jul 2013

The family of rollers hold a very special place in the hearts of visitors to Africa. It is also not uncommon to find locals frequently gasping at their resplendent colours.  Their hues are best displayed throughout the aerobatics (hence the name ‘rollers’) of courtship and territorial flights.  Africa has the most colourful endemic rollers. It is also commonplace to see large telephoto lenses trained on rollers in Mpumalanga and Limpopo, very typically the ubiquitous and relaxed lilac-breasted roller, in the hope of capturing them in flight with their wings open. A less easy task than it sounds to anyone who has ever tried.

A particularly difficult roller to encounter in South Africa is the racket-tailed roller. The distinctive spatulate tips at the end of their tail-shafts give them their name. Their distribution starts at the very edge of north-east Limpopo and runs into central Africa.  In South Africa, they are reclusive and uncommon. This magnificent specimen was snapped at 1/2500 sec, f6.3 and using a 28-300 mm lens in Tanzania.


Guest blog by Daniel Polakow

Polakow Photography

Polakow Photography
15 Jul 2013

We are very excited to have photographer Daniel Polakow joining us as a guest blogger. Daniel has a talent for capturing breathtaking nature scenes, and will be sharing some tips from his vast experience. This week, he begins with HDR:

The sun is setting over a dazzling Mopane landscape peppered with Baobab trees.  The challenge:  capture the moment satisfactorily while creating something out of the ordinary.  Step 1 – frame the shot.  Stop the car and calm the kids down for what needs to be a very still set of say 3 shots.   Camera sits on a bean bag on the window for stability.  Step 2 –shooting wide-angle into the sun your SLR sensor sees a lot of light, and wants to shoot fast and close the aperture to prevent overexposure.  Open the aperture to about F7.1 to get a reasonable but restricted depth-of-field. Shutter speed at about 200 ms but not any slower.  Remind the now distracted kids yet again as required.  Take 3 identical shots rapidly in RAW format with varying exposures.  I used +1.3, 0 and -1.3 here.  RAW prevents critical information loss present in image compression algorithms and their associated jpegs.  One is left with a vastly overexposed first shot, a bland conventional shot, and an underexposed third shot.  Using HDR (high dynamic range) technology, we can preserve the best of the light and dark ranges.  The three images are thus blended using software.  The results can be quite extraordinary when executed correctly.    

Guest Blog by Daniel Polakow
Polakow Photography


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