Distant thunderstorm in the Kgalagadi TNP, Northern Cape Province, South Africa.
Canon EOS 1DX Mark II with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM lens at 125 mm on a Gitzo 1548 tripod with RRS BH-40 ballhead.
ISO 1600. 10 sec at f/5. Exposure set manually.
We like to visit the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park (TNP) in November. It is not as hot as later in summer and it is often the month in which the first of the summer rains fall. In a previous visit we were fortunate to experience the Nossob river in flood – albeit shortlived. This year we did not get the heavy rain – only some light drizzle. However, we were treated to many thunderstorms in the distances which provided some incredible thunderclouds and lightning shows at night with a few good rainbows during the day. The featured image above was taken one evening at Nossop camp. The thunderclouds were fairly low on the horizon with intermittent lightning, so we could also see the stars in the upper part of the sky. The foreground was lit by the floodlight emanating from the waterhole in front of the camp. It was a surreal scene.
Canon EOS R5 with Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM lens at 70 mm and RF/EF control ring adapter.
ISO 400. 1/1250 sec at f/10. Exposure set manually.
There was generally a good build-up of cumulus clouds in the afternoon which were an indication of what would come later in the afternoon and evening.
Canon EOS 1DX Mark II with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM lens at 70mm.
ISO 400. 1/160 sec at f/11. Exposure set manually.
Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM lens at 16mm.
ISO 800. 1/1600sec at f/5.6. Aperture Priority exposure mode.
There was usually some rain in the distance which resulted in rainbows – often double ones. Always amazes me to see the second rainbow with the colours in reverse order. As the sky darkened toward the evening there would be the added sunset-colours in the sky. These images were captured from the verandah of our river lodge at Nossop. There were always hundreds of doves and queleas flying about and being hunted by the Lanner Falcons. Also saw Tawny Eagles taking out doves.
Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM lens at 35mm.
ISO 200. 1/60 sec at f/10. Aperture priority exposure mode. EC= +1/3EV
The same evening the above image was captured we had the spectacular display seen in the featured image. It was a difficult one to take. The lightning flashes were quite low in the sky which needed a longer focal length to show up sufficiently. The flashes were also fairly intertmittent so that a longer exposure time was required to catch a flash. Both these factors worked against getting pin point stars. Notwithstanding the challenges, it turned out as a rather unique image split into three segments – the lit foreground, the lightning in the dramatically lit clouds and the visible stars above.
The trip wasn’t just about the possibility of rain – We also saw our fair share of game and birds!
Swallow-tailed Bee-eater (Merops hirundineus)
Canon 1DX Mark III with Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM Lens and Canon EF 1.4x converter. ISO 400. 1/320 sec at f/8. Manual exposure.
Springbok (Antidorcus marsupialis)
Canon 1DX Mark III with Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens. ISO 400. 1/640 sec at f/6.3. Manual exposure.
Southern Africa Ground Squirrel (Xerus inauris)
Canon EOS 1DX Mark III with a Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens and 1.4x converter. ISO 400. 1/1600 sec at f/5.6. Exposure set mamnually.
Tawny Eagle, ad. buff morph. (Aquila rapax)
Canon EOS 1DX mark III with Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens and 1.4x converter.
ISO 400. 1/1600 sec at f/5.6. Exposure set manually.
Whilst we saw numerous lions I preferred the image of a young male walking with the early morning light catching the side of his face. Must say that Kgalagadi is nowadays just as bad as the Kruger National Park with numerous vehicles carelessly jockeying for a position at a cat sighting. On this visit we tended to concentrate on the smaller creatures.
Lion (panthera leo)
Canon EOS 1DX Mark III with Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens and 1.4x converter.
ISO 400. 1/1600 sec at f/6.3. Manual exposure.
After spending 4 days at Nossop we travelled up to Gharagab. Although the game was scarce, it is always a great place to enjoy the remoteness and tranquility of this wilderness camp. Nothing like a sunrise at Gharagab.
Canon EOS 1DX Mark III with a Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens and 1.4x converter.
Let’s not also forget the colourful insects (in this case a butterfly on a flowering plant). Also an opportunity to do some macro work. Sort of looks out of place in this supposedly barren landscape.
Butterfly (Belenois aurota aurota)
Canon ESO 1DX Mark II with a Canon EF 180mm f3.5L Macro USM lens. ISO 200. 1/500sec at f/8. Aperture priority exposure mode EC = +⅔ EV. Handheld
All-in-all an excellent trip. It was wonderful to escape the Covid lockdown for two weeks. Weather was great, without being too hot. I would have just liked to have some more rain while we were there. The week after we left, there were some big storms with the riverbeds filled with water. Look forward to November 2021 when we will be back.