Currently I have my Fellowship of the Photographic Society of South Africa (open and macro) and serves on their Honors judging panel. To date I am also blessed with various awards and publications.
Nature’s Best Photography Africa
I have not entered competitions for quite some time and thought that it is time again. Great was my amazement when I had 10 images in the finals. The result was three awards:
- Highly Honoured (Africa up close): Camouflage (Spiny Mantis)
- First Runner-up (Mammals of Africa Portraits: Angry Banana Bat
- Category Winner (Africa up close): African Hummingbird Moth
The Spiny Flower Mantis (Pseudocreobotra walbergii) is a small flower mantis (1.5 inches or 38 millimetres) native to southern and eastern Africa. To spot them takes much patience and I have been searching for them several times without any luck.
I almost by accident spotted this one in the Stainbank Nature Reserve in Durban, South Africa, as he ran over a little leaf and onto a small branch. He froze after seeing me and sat dead quiet. He ran off again when he thought the coast was clear. A cat and mouse game ensued and I took a couple of photographs. On this small little branch, he suddenly froze against one of the leaves as if trying to blend in. I had my photograph and he ran off into the bushes.
This photograph was taken in Richards Bay, South Africa. Richards Bay is semi-tropical and the ideal habitat for various small species.
One afternoon I was scanning through the bushes to look for some macro subjects. I noticed the rolled-up leaf of a wild stralitzia and wondered whether there could be anything. To my amazement I found a little banana bat. To photograph it was going to be extremely difficult as the space is so limited and you cannot get light into the leaf and onto your subject. From previous experience I knew how to set up from the start: use strong flashes giving light through the leaves, while hanging onto a ladder! To complicate matters, this little one was not too eager and showed it right away. I managed to get one shot, but that was enough!
This photograph has also won the Campsworld’s Big 5 competition. The judges comment: “We felt that this was a great shot and something very few people have seen – totally out of the ordinary. The open mouth of the Banana Bat adds incredible impact.”
The African Humming Bird Moth (Macroglossum trochilus) is small and feed on tubular flowers. They are not seen too often and are very difficult to photograph due to their fast and abrupt movement. Rarely is one found hovering for more than 2 seconds in one spot. They also do not have a pattern to their flying or their visiting of different flowers.
While I was doing a macro workshop in Bethal, I saw a couple of them between some specific flower species. I went back there every time I had a break from the workshop to try to get a photograph or two for myself. By the time I had a third session with them, I had tried different techniques and had managed to settle on one that would work for me. I decided to try with a strong flash against a dark foliage area in the background in order to isolate him as much as possible. After what felt like eternity, one finally showed up in the area I was set-up and waiting. Everyone shared in my excitement when the photograph materialised, because for years this has been a dream for me. Not just seeing them but photographing them as well. At last I had an African Hummingbird Moth shot!
Winland Smith Rice Awards (Nature’s Best Photography)
At some stage I was going through a very rough patch in my life. We were with family in Johannesburg and it was winter: cold, dry and everything was dead. One morning I was praying to God, begging Him to just show His love to me. My camera was next to me and as an after-thought I added that God can give me a winning image as well! (Yes, cheeky!). I got up and God directed me to a white stinkwood tree with all the fallen leaves around it. As I started to pick up one of the leaves, God prompted me to pick up a specific one about a meter away. I stood in amazement when I turned the leaf around. The message God gave me: you are in My hand!!
I have entered this image in many competitions, but it never did well. Ironically people love this image and it did lead to many opportunities to witness. It however wasn’t that “winning” image God promised me…
Four years later I was asking God whether He is going to keep His word, since it is important to me at this stage. I asked Him to just show me again that He keeps His word and personal promises… Yes, God does keep His promises! His timing is not our timing (luckily!), but He doesn’t go back on His word!
I received an e-mail stating that this image received a “Highly Honoured” award in one of the prestige international photographic competitions! Out of 20 000 images….
Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year
A few years ago my wife and I visited a nature reserve where we saw many dung beetles, one of which was this Flattened Giant Dung Beetle (Pachylomera femoralis – no, don’t ask me why they need these funny pronunciations….). These two looked like they were fighting about it (no bull!) and as they strolled away I tried to do some panning with a slow shutter. Got my other shots which looked a bit boring, but the panning worked quite well. Well enough to be a finalist in this most acclaimed awards.
Getaway / Fujifilm Wildlife Photographer of the year
This Jumping Spider won the Reptiles and Insects category in 2008. I was overwhelmed with joy when I heard this, since it has been one of my goals for quite some time. I love my macro photography and wanted to be at the forefront.
It is so easy to miss the small things with everyone always running after the big five. Nothing wrong with it – I love it myself. I just think that there is so much to see around us if we just let our eyes take us on a trip to the small undergrowth. To compete against the big five is very difficult – people see adrenaline behind those photographs and do not realise that the same is required for a spider jumping after its prey. As a matter of fact, it happens at a speed that not even a cheetah can blink it’s eye in….
This made it all the more special when I was acclaimed the Animals General winner with this Forest Treefrog (Leptopelis Natalensis). I so wish more people can realise that these are as special as anything else out there. Like CS Lewis said: “We may choose to ignore, but we can never evade the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere, incognito“
Over time many of my other photographs also made it in this competition from runner-up to highly commended over various categories.
Nikon Africa Photographic Awards
The Nikon Africa Photographic Awards resulted in a winner and another four finalists (all macro!)
This damsel fly was hard work!! I cannot even remember where exactly I took this shot but I can most definitely remember the circumstances… To get close enough to this gorgeous green damsel, took much patience. With the subject being so small depth of field (DoF) was virtually non-existent and focus was absolutely crucial. But, the patience paid off!
Lepidopterists’ Society of Africa category winner and runner-up
Something that does not happen too often is to have both the winner and runner-up in a specific category… I also had a runner-up in a second category with a Tri-coloured Tiger Moth.
Comments from the judges: “This is an incredible image of one of the dice moth (Rhanidophora sp.) larvae. The lighting that the photographer used here made the hairs stand out very nicely against the black background, and created a stunning photo! Dice moth larvae have very typical hairs on their body, and they often pose in this looped posture.” For the second picture: “This is a very interesting image of a moth larva that not only shows the defensive strategy that many Lepidoptera larvae employ to escape danger, but it is also photographically a great shot. Many moth larvae, and a couple of butterfly larvae will drop from their host plants when disturbed. This gives them a chance to escape from predators such as birds. Often they will simply drop halfway down, and then proceed to climb back up the silk thread once the threat has passed.”
Various smaller competitions
Various other competitions such as: Getpix Natural Elements winner, Wildlife and Environment Society of SA winner, Getaway photographs of the year, etc.
- Speaker and workshop leader at 2014 PSSA International Wildlife Convention
- Speaker at the 2013 PSSA National Congress
- Speaker at various Regional Photographic Congresses
- Various photographs in the coffee table book: Ons Praat Afrikaans, which celebrates the Afrikaans heritage
- Various photographs in The Best of Outdoorphoto – Portfolio 1
- Various photographs in the South African Coasts by the Sustainable Seas Trust
- Portfolio in Weg / Go Magazine June 2006
- Portfolio in Weg / Go Magazine September 2011
- Portfolio in Weg / Go Magazine September 2014
- SA Paddler
- Getaway Magazine
- Wildside Magazine
- Various others