In the Zulu and Swazi cultures in particular, Ziziphus Mucronata or the Buffalo Thorn tree is strongly associated with burial and death. It is said that if someone dies far from home, a twig from the tree, which is rather uniquely covered with both a curved, backward facing thorn and a straight forward facing thorn at each growth node, must be taken to fetch the body before a burial. The backward facing curved thorn is said to capture the soul of the deceased, and in that way bring it back home with the body. At the funeral the twig is buried with the casket and the straight thorn then points the way to heaven. Where no body has been located, the twig alone is brought back and symbolically buried alone.Continue reading “Another fork in the branch of the ziziphus”
For the most part, if you ask people (and sometimes even if you don’t ask) for their thoughts on social media you will find that they fall into one of two opposing camps. The first, and seemingly growing camp, is those in opposition, arguing that social media is a major time waster and only serves to feed the user’s need for external validation through likes and comments. In fact, when I initially thought of writing this post it was going to be a bit tongue in cheek and all I was going to say was all you needed to do to gain followers and influence people is to be an Instagram model. Full stop. But then I realised my facetiousness was just an attempt to mask that I fall into the second camp of people who argue that social media can be used effectively and to achieve different goals. So I decided to do more of an actual post than just a silly clickbait article.Continue reading “How to gain followers and influence people!”
A poem from a friend and a picture by me!
This endless cloak awakes
Into the shadows
She appears against the black canvas
She calls out
Commanding all to name her
ETHEREAL! ENTRANCING! EUPHORIC!
Years that separate disappear
This perfect syzygy astounds
Out of the blazing light
Reflections cast from another remain
She smiles quietly
Her eyes turn scarlet bright
BREATHLESSNESS! BEWILDERED! BRILLIANT!
Air fills with stillness
That time I fell in love between two river beds….
The first reaction I get from most of the people I told my December holidays were spent visiting the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park (KTP for further reference) was “Where’s that?”. My response for ease of reference was “Near Upington, on the border of Botswana and Namibia – that pointy sticking out bit.” Still most would only recognise it slightly better. The most common response I got as a follow up was “It’s hot there!” For good reason though. Most South Africans my age are most likely to recognise Upington, from the daily weather reports our parents forced us to watch growing up, as one of the hottest places in the country almost through all the seasons. Durban would be setting record highs at 36 degrees Celsius and Upington would be “Hold my beer” at 45 degrees. Upington, Lephalale and Skukuza would always be closer to the sun than the rest of South Africa. So maybe visiting at the height of summer was madness. But it was madness I had set in motion 3 years before and has to see through.Continue reading…
I was reminded of the idiom that says you never know what you have until its gone is one the other day, walking on the Copacabana promenade early one morning with the sun fighting the wispy clouds in trying to come out. I was grateful that the famous black and white stones on the walkway had been worn smooth by millions of Havaianas walking up and down as they didn’t hurt my bare feet as much. My shoes had been soaked early when I got caught by a wave I didn’t see coming and I decided to walk back to the hotel some 4km away with them in my hand. I hadn’t walked anywhere barefoot in ages. But we used to do it all the time in Durban. And the main strip in Rio, Copacabana Beach reminded me a lot of the golden mile in Durban. Only Copacabana is scaled up a little bit and possibly a little more famous. Durban is however not a 10 and 1/2 flight away.
In Indian society, every older unrelated male is an uncle and older unrelated female an aunty (not aunt, aunty). Your real uncle and aunts are given their designations by the relationship they come to be your real aunts and uncles by. Your mother’s brothers are your Mamas and your father’s sisters your Poowas. Or Foi or Aatha depending on the dialect you speak. And you then also have big dads and big moms for the eldest uncles and aunts. Everyone else who is older is designated uncle or aunt and then their name. The neighbour, Aunty Saras (not to be confused with the neighbour-aunty, Saras) or Uncle Sagren who lives down the road. When, as an Indian kid, you don’t know someone by their name you default to some attribute of how they look or what they do with and added uncle or aunty at the front. So the Fowl Aunty was the lady who provided fresh chickens on a Saturday morning, Fisher Uncle or Uncle Fishy was a good fisherman and the Milk Uncle drove the van that sold bread and milk and sweets that came around at 3 o’ clock every afternoon. That’s probably how my mother ended up being the Basket Aunty and then the Sweet Aunty. Continue reading “My mom, the Basket Aunty…”
This is a story about how I got into a fight the other day. Not a real fight in a grungy bar or someplace like that. Or anything that involved fisticuffs or any real physical violence. An online fight on Instagram. Well maybe an exchange of words really, not to say that things don’t get out of hand on social media pages sometimes. I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and saw a post with a Sony camera body and I think 3 different Canon lens mounted. And one of the first comments on the post was to the effect of why, if Sony cameras are so good, do 90% of the posts show them with Canon lenses.
Now the question could obviously be interpreted as a genuine query on why this general observation would be so. Or, and this was the more likely intention, it was a backhanded swipe at Sony using one of the common reasons people use not to buy the camera bodies – Canon and Nikon glass is considerably better. If you haven’t noticed this already, camera nerds can be very very brand loyal. To the point that they will pick fights with users of other brands in what can only be described as almost religious zeal. One of the first questions a camera nerd will ask is what brand are you shooting on. Then they will tell you about what brand they are on and how it is better than your own. Even I was guilty of that and some would argue this post talks to the same.
To an extent, with my limited use of my Sony camera and lens and the limited time Sony has been in country, I will concede that Canon and Nikon have the best range of lenses but Sony is indeed catching up. Sony mirrorless mount lenses were limited in the past but the range is constantly being added to. However, I have to admit that the good to great lenses come at quite astounding prices. Sony recently announced a $12000 400mmF2.8 lens for wildlife photographers which is going to break the bank of many Sony users as soon as it lands. If you look at the ratings on DXO mark for some of the GMaster lenses you will see that they actually are much better than their Canon and Nikon counterparts on the high megapixel count camera bodies. My Sony 100-400mm Gmaster ranks a few points higher than the Canon 100-400mm MkII lens and almost as high as the 200-400mm Canon lens. But the cost of the Sony is about 30% more than the Canon and what I have also been finding of late is that the availability is also an issue here on the Southern tip of Africa.
So for the compromise of the loss of a little (sometimes hardly noticeable) quality and saving a lot of money, a lot of Canon lenses get used in combination with the Sony bodies. It just makes sense to use the best body you can get your hands on with the best lens you can get your hands on. And Canon lenses in particular work really well with the Metabones adapters, losing very little autofocus speed and the quality of the lenses are for the most part close to what you would get with the native Sony lenses for stills (with the caveat that it may not be as great when shooting video). Nikon lenses on the other hand don’t, or rather don’t have an adapter currently that performs the same as the Metabones does. So this is part of the reason that there are so many Canon lenses being used on the Sony bodies, and maybe not so many Nikon lenses.
The other part I have mentioned before. For the R32 000 I paid for my Sony Alpha A7III, I would not be able to even get a Canon camera body that currently comes even halfway close. The 6D MKII is full frame but slower on the frame rate and low light performance is worse than the 6D MKI so worse than the Sony and almost no comparison on the autofocus. The 5DMKIV has a higher megapixel count but is closer to R60 000 all in and also is slower on the frame and autofocus is also perhaps not as well suited for action and fast moving objects. So a lot of other Canon users are moving across to Sony and have a lot of glass that they bring with them. Why not the same with Nikon? Because Nikon has for a large part, kept up with the Sony bodies’ performance in the last few years and actually are better camera body makers than Sony so the need to change is not as great. And without the added bonuses of being able to migrate expensive lenses across, I think fewer Nikon users may be tempted by the Sony camera bodies. There are actually a number of stories of Canon users who got tired of waiting and switched to Nikon as well.
You are probably thinking that’s all well and good but Canon will probably catch up with their own Mirrorless Full Frame camera body soon. And indeed, that’s exactly what some of the rumours are saying. Canon and Nikon have both recently announced their intentions to build a new mirrorless full frame camera aimed at directly competing with Sony. And I believe that they may well do it, except they are about 5 years behind already so it has to be a massive leap forward in terms of technology but would also require a massive mind shift on the part of the predominantly DSLR manufacturers. And that is they will have to aim to cannabalise some of their own DSLR sales to slot the mirrorless full frames into the current line up. Canon has been particularly bad at this though, deliberately down speccing cameras so that they do not compete with each other in recent years (perhaps the reason why the 6D MKII was a bit of a damp squib). So I believe they know what needs to be done but whether they will do it is still debatable.
I think, for what its worth, Canon should perhaps try an alternate tack. They know how to make lenses and how to make a lot of different lenses. If I were Canon I would approach the guys at Sony and offer to make their lenses for them, with the correct mount to fit the Sony systems. Like Tamron and Sigma currently do with their lenses. Keep making the DSLRs because there are pros who will never switch off Canon so the market may be shrinking but could be there for a while. And avoid the distraction of trying to out-compete Sony on the full frame mirrorless front and perhaps carve a new niche as lens suppliers. But then again time could well prove me wrong and they could make a good show of it. Maybe by this time next year we will know, I just got a case of the proverbial ants in the pants and could not wait that long to see if they came close. And as much as I love my Canon lenses, if I can shoot with them on the Sony body then why not? So do I shoot Canon or Sony? Both actually. And DJI to boot.
So. Have you read enough about the Sony Alpha cameras already? Actually if you are not a camera geek like me you probably haven’t heard much of the Sony camera’s currently taking the world by storm. Unless you are friends with me on any form of social media – then you probably heard too much in the last couple weeks and you are probably hoping that I would stop. And I promise that this blog post is the culmination of what has been an exciting few weeks. I therefore ask that you bear with me and maybe this is the last you’ll hear of it…for now!
Ask me when did I get into wildlife photography and I would struggle to answer. Before getting my first DSLR I had been to the Kruger a total of 1 times in my life, late in 2005 I think it was. My progression was first into landscape photography, documenting the places I had been travelling to and I started of shooting wide. The transition to long lenses I think only started late in 2011 when I got a 70-300mm USM and even then the next step up did not come for a long while. So I will run you through some of the lenses I have owned and used and still use in some instances and hopefully guide your own journey. Continue reading “Which lens to choose for beginner wildlife and nature?”
So if you read my blog a few months back on the trials and tribulations of setting up the DJI Spark you will know how excited I was for my first foray into droning and drone photography (Spark of insanity ) But almost as much as it excited me the littlest drone in the DJI line up did leave me frustrated for the 4 months or so I did own it. Flying through a WIFI connection to the phone, the biggest bug bear I had was that the furthest out I could get it before losing signal was just over 100m at the limited height of 120m. Limited battery life was addressed through multiple batteries and the ease of flying with the remote was actually quite impressive. And then, in almost an ultimate act of insanity and almost to fulfill the prophecy I laid out in September, on the 30 December, the little spark flew out about 70m over the waves of Nature’s Valley and about 4m high then started to come back in reverse and decided to spit its own battery out and plummet into the knee-deep water of the Southern Indian Ocean.