All posts by Barry Tanner

Traveller, Photographer, Golfer, Scuba Diver, General Adventurer passionate about the outdoors, South Africa and Conservation.

Roadtripping South Africa’s Panorama Route

What would you spend R10 000 (approx. $1000) on to improve your photography? That was the question posed by an article I recently read, and besides the obvious gadgets and filters and software there was one answer that really stood out. A plane ticket! The point being that once you have a camera the next way to improve your photography is by practice and ideally with an inspirational subject! With that in mind I packed my bags for a long weekend on South Africa’s Panorama Route in the heart of Mpumalanga. It’s not difficult to see why it’s called The Panorama Route, no matter where you are there’s a view nearby. See what i mean…


Flipping Tables

Have you ever seen a disgruntled poker player leave the room in a movie, having just lost all his cash? What does he do just before storming out of the room? Flips the table! Well that works just as well in the real life office environment!

There comes a point where the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze! I just reached that point! I’m no longer prepared to sit in a cramped little office being miserable because it’s what mom, dad and society thinks I should do, and it pays the bills.

Better the uncertainty of funemployement than the certainty of misery; that’s my theory anyway! I’m on a mission to forget everything I was ever taught! Ok, not quite everything but at least society’s lessons about schedules, 9-5 jobs, other people’s expectations etc etc. It’s time for me to stop and smell the roses, enjoy the journey without worrying about the destination and, to quote one of those cheesy motivational posters, do more of what makes me happy!

The only caveat to this “plan”, and I use that term very, very loosely, is that there isn’t a plan! But who needs a plan? That’s one of those societal expectations, right?

Wish me luck, the journey begins now.
Destination? ……

The Power of Photoshop Express

Before I go into this I want to address the issue that “non photographers” have with Photoshop. The mere mention of it seems to bring out emotions of shock and horror, accusations of cheating and not being a real photo anymore etc etc etc. So… the first thing I want to clear up is the fact that in spite of how incredible modern camera equipment is becoming it’s still a very poor substitute for the human eye and brain combo! A camera simply cannot capture images the way your eye sees them. Secondly, the camera already adds “creative effects”, think background blur in portrait shots. I don’t know about you but my eyes don’t blur the background when I’m looking at someone. So by the photoshopophobes logic I “cheated” the moment I took out my camera! Thirdly, Google defines photography as “the art or practice of taking and processing photographs”. There’s two things to note there, firstly, photography is an art, we never promised to be producing 100% replicas of reality! Secondly part of the definition is processing one’s images, this goes back to the shortcomings of the camera, Photoshop (or any other image processing software) completes the process and either corrects in camera flaws or adds the final polish to your ART! Now to the point, earlier this week I posted this photo and I just want to share how quick and effective it was to capture and process using my iPhone and Photoshop express, nothing else! Here is the “raw” out of iPhone camera and the post processed image.

RAW panorama from iPhone 5.
RAW panorama from iPhone 5.


Sunrise Panorama from iPhone 5 processed with Photoshop express
Sunrise Panorama from iPhone 5 processed with Photoshop express

Now during my processing this photo I had two goals, correct the dull colours so the final image was a better representation of the incredible sunrise that morning, and make sure those viewing the image will feel the same “wow!”, that I felt seeing it in person. I can promise you the dull washed out colours of the first image are not a real representation of what I saw so that’s one mark to Photoshop in the reality box! Below is what settings I applied to correct the shortcomings of the camera. Most of them were necessitated by that fact that i was shooting into the sun and this is where digital cameras really struggle to capture the detail in both dark and light areas as well as accurately record the colours in the picture.

  • Vibrance +25
  • Shadows +25
  • Clarity +40
  • Sharpening +10
  • Exposure -10
  • Contrast -10
  • Highlights Recovery -100

If you use your iPhone’s camera a lot I highly recommend getting Photoshop Express to compliment it, your images really will improve and it is a very quick and simple app to use, it took me less than 10 minutes to shoot and process this image. Good luck and love to hear from anybody else using Photoshop Express or if you start using it going forward please share your experiences.

First Photos from The Canon EOS 70D (or not!)

So it turns out that Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 can’t handle the RAW files from my new Canon EOS 70D. There is no update for LR 3 that will correct this either.

This leaves me with three options. I could write off Lightroom and just use Canon’s bundled software. I don’t really see this as an option having the rest of my photos in Lightroom and being so comfortable with what Lightroom can do, I see it as pretty much a necessity in my photography workflow these days.

I could use Canon’s bundled software to import the RAW files and then export them as DNG, which LR would then be able to read. While this is not too ridiculously complicated it does add a lengthy step to my workflow which I’m not very keen on.

So the answer was to bite the bullet and spend the $85 dollars on upgrading Lightroom. Not ideal with the Rand Dollar exchange rate heading the wrong direction! However, to be honest I’m not actually upset about the “forced” update, I’m looking forward to seeing what’s new in LR5 and I enjoy my gadgets and new technology so no problem there. Until I tried to install LR5 that is…

I should have read the system requirements before jumping in and buying the Lightroom update but, you guessed it… I didn’t and LR5 needs Mac OS X 10.7 or later to run. I’m currently running OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard and a mild panic set in knowing what the usual going rate for operating systems can be.

Fortunately an update to OS X Mavericks from Snow Leopard is free and is currently downloading, phew….

The moral of the story is do your homework! When it comes to new technology, make sure whatever setup you have is compatible with whatever you are getting. I think I’ve been pretty lucky in that I was considering upgrading my LR anyway and mac’s OS X Mavericks is free. Unless of course there are some more hidden gremlins, Fingers crossed that’s not the case, I’m soon going to have a whole lot of new software to go along with the new camera!

Fun Features on The Canon 70D

I recently took the plunge and decided to upgrade my camera! I’ve been using the Canon 40D for five years now and I love it but just felt the time was right to spoil myself. There were a few things I was looking for in a new camera and the 70D ticked all the boxes, as well as adding a few extra “nice to haves”.

Canon 70D
Canon 70D

Here is a little video showing off three of the nifty features of the 70D, namely the ability to control an off camera flash using the 70D’s built in flash, the articulated LCD touch screen (this should be very useful when trying to shoot from really low angles and some other awkward spots i’m sure), and the ability to control the 70D with your smartphone via wifi.

I’m really looking forward to playing with the 70D over the next little while and really utilizing these and other features to their fullest! Hopefully i’ll have some pretty great pictures to add to my gallery as well!

Finally a big thanks to Andrew Beck and the guys at Wild Eye for the advice and sourcing the camera for me!

The 100 (more or less) Reasons I Love South Africa

I’ve seen on various blogs that “Top 10 Lists” are really popular and knew my fledgling blog wouldn’t be complete without a list of my own! Question was, a list of what?!?!

A recent presentation by Scott Ramsay on his Year In The Wild project got me thinking  about why I love South Africa and my list hit me like a stray paper jet right between the eyes! OK, so this list doesn’t actually exist yet, well not on paper or the interweb anyway but it’s going to! We as South Africans often get a bad rap in the foreign media, so much so that some people are too afraid to travel here. Yet, us South Africans know what amazing sights and sounds people are missing by avoiding our shores.

One of the things that hit home the most from Scott’s presentation was the incredible biodiversity we have in South Africa for such a relatively small area and just how valuable tourism is as a sustainable revenue generator for our country. So for as long as I can keep finding new reasons to love SA, or remembering old ones i’m going to be sharing what I love about South Africa with you.

My hope is that by sharing all the things I love, at least one person (but hopefully many, many more) will be inspired to visit! So without any further ado, here is the link to a video from Scott’s time in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park that gave me goosebumps and is as good a way as any to start my 100 (more or less) Reasons I Love South Africa!

Check out Scott’s project Year in the Wild, hopefully it will inspire you too! If you have any reasons you love South Africa, please share them with me here or on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter #WhyILoveSouthAfrica.

Here is where you can find the ever growing list of reasons I Love South Africa

Black & White Elephant

I’ve often seen people convert their wildlife images into black & white and never really understood it. I’ve always loved the colours of nature in their natural form. That and i’m pretty lazy when it comes to post processing my images, I didn’t get into photography to spend hours in front of a PC.

But this elephant finally caused me to change my tactics, he was magnificent, and far too close for my 70-200mm lens to do anything but focus on intricate detail, so that’s what I did! It also happened to be the middle of the day so the light wasn’t great (in the traditional sense) but it was great in the end.

When I was sorting through the images and I came across this one i just loved the detail in the Ellie’s skin, so I set about accentuating that. It was surprisingly simple, an aggressive crop and some minor tweaks to the contrast and clarity sliders in Lightroom and I was done. Needless to say I’m pretty excited about the result and still just love the detail in skin and fine cracks in the tusk.

Who knows this may just have opened up a whole new world of photography for me…
Elephant in Black & White

Travel Starts On Your Doorstep

This post probably should have come first (so i’ve pre-dated it hoping that it does, I hear you can do that :-)), it’s essentially the reason and inspiration for me to start my own blog.

I’ve always had a passion for travel and photography but never felt like I was going anywhere or doing anything exotic enough to warrant a blog. A friend of mine on the other hand lives in Tanzania and was spending weekends in the Serengeti, casually checking off items from my life bucket list!

Chatting one day when I told her how jealous I was about all the cool things she was doing she said to me, “travel starts on your doorstep!”. It dawned on me just how lucky I am to be living in South Africa, how many things I have in easy reach that should definitely be on other peoples’ bucket lists! Cape Town, Kruger National Park, The Garden Route, The Winelands, not to mention being a great starting place to other african countries!

I look forward to sharing the awesomeness that is South Africa and hopefully in the near future, Africa in general, as well as anywhere else i’m fortunate enough to go. I hope you enjoy exploring with me, please do get hold of me if you are in or around South Africa.