Choosing the right Camera – Travel & Wildlife

Doing a bit of travel blogging and promoting tourism quickly taught me to go prepared. I always stand amazed at how quickly an opportunity arises, albeit rather unexpected. Perhaps, the old adage rings true: ALWAYS EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

There is a place called Dyer Island more or less two thirds of the way between Cape Town and the southernmost tip of Africa, Agulhas, where Indian and Atlantic oceans do meet. Dyer Island is where Jacques Cousteau used to spend much time, researching sharks, from his vessel Nautilus. I happened to have spent a fair share of my fifty-odd years in that neck of the woods and personally know some of the shark ticklers. I also know two of the first ever shark spotters. On April 9, 2017, the unthinkable happened in the least expected of places – St James, Cape Town. Twice on that Sunday afternoon did we see a shark breach the surface between 600-800m offshore. Don’t ask me for photo’s as I only had a little compact with me, not capable of capturing such action instantly at that range.

Some time ago, I had stalked fallow deer and came quite close to them, same as gnu (wildebeest.) As I visited a dusty region, I did not want to switch lenses at all, lest there would be dust ingress. A DSLR camera isn’t designed to transport the land you are treading upon. Fitted with a Canon EF 18-55mm lens, I was hopelessly under equipped for my task. Video of the fallow deer reminds of twelve mice jumping a fence.

If you are a frequent traveler in Africa or similar environments, best advice is to invest in a decent camera which is sealed, by design and manufacture, against weather and the environment. Extensive research brought me to a great solution in the form of Canon’s EOS 80D combined with a Canon 28-300mm L EF IS lens, offering weather and environment sealing, same as the camera. It allows for close-up shots as well as reaching far enough to capture most of the wildlife. Of course, a teleconverter aka lens doubler can be added, with a Polaroid filter to complete the package. This setup will afford the photographer a perfect solution for at least 95% of the time, with much of the remainder an agreeable compromise. Using a decent tripod is strongly recommended for super zoom shots and cinematography.

Said 80D also is an excellent video camera, at entry professional level for the cinematographer. Being weather sealed and of greater performance, it beats its nearest competition by a fair margin. It can also shoot up to around 960 still images on one battery charge, Its only downside is its use of an APS-C sensor, not a full frame. Then again, it has NFC & WiFi, making it ideal as it can also be controlled via a smartphone or tablet.

There is a much cheaper solution, as this bundle can easily set you back around R60k. A Canon Powershot SX60 will cost around R6k and offer super zoom of 18-1265mm, offering fantastic wide angle capability while that faraway little springbok can be turned into eyebiltong with ease, yet there is a catch! Also weather sealed and therefore won’t melt if a few raindrops comes in contact with it.

You get what you pay for – compact cameras sport small sensor chips, same as smartphones. Trouble starts the moment that you venture beyond Instagram and want to print, especially for publishing purposes. You will soon find that no camera can even come close to the quality a good DSLR offers.

My lay advice would be to buy the camera body that suits your needs the best, but invest in the best glass that you can buy. Canon’s L-series lenses are known to be especially crisp and effective even in low light conditions. They have an alternative to the 28-300mm, the 100-400mm which has a wider scope at zoom but then you will need to live with a more restricted short end.

Non-branded lenses may be okay but they lose some functionality in live mode.

Finally, I own a Canon Powershot A810 compact, basically a toy, yet it packs a lot of punch. It is utterly reliable and almost unbelievably tough, in that it had fallen twice now and was soaked by the frisky waves of the Atlantic ocean. I bought it used at R450 (about USD35) and fitted my own Sandisk 16GB SD card. It even takes reasonable video at FHD resolution.

Happy clicking!

Stop Abusing Them!

#NotInMyName So many men get silently abused, discarded, exploited by abusive women. I became aware of this while attending a men’s congress at Mabula almost thirty years ago. Ever sonce, the one-sided assault on men has had me confounded. We met a young lady with two kids recently while visiting a young couple who also have small children.

The young lady is around thirty, yet many 18-year old girls can only dream of her external beauty.

Inside, it is a different story. She is getting divorced and already on dating sites. Her husband loves her, wants her to stay but her pride, ego, cold heart and egotism shines through. She is also interfering in the marriages of others.

This is sheer violence, think if the pain she is also causing her little children and how she is poisoning their minds.

And the loving guy, of course, gets both the blame and the bill. Another broken man.

#stopabusingmen

WATER WASTED UNDER LEVEL 3 RESTRICTIONS IN CAPE TOWN

When I started lobbying a year ago, people looked at me as if I was mad. I am used to that, as I usually see things coming before most do. In Cape Town, water restrictions came way too late.

In my view, the CoCT were nothing short of reckless in how they managed our water resources. They did not always execute repairs on their side; someone is said to have reported a fire hydrant repeatedly for well over a year, with no action taken. Similar stories do the rounds on social media, all telling of gross neglect by CoCT. Then, old age homes apparently were exempt from Level 3 restrictions and watered their gardens with hand-held hoses. I know of one that was doing this twice weekly, four hoses, 90 minutes per watering session, resulting in an estimated usage of around 86KL. In my household, this would have served us for at least 40 months, more likely fifty or more.

We are water misers. Washing with a wet rag, using about half a litre per person per day to wash. Very little for cooking; we ate bread, pies and fruit, to avoid wasting water at home, also drinking tea and coffee was restricted. To see then how people water gardens obviously had us a bit antagonised. They just said that CoCT exempted old age homes, so we had no leg to stand on. Perhaps it is time for a total change of leadership as some simply cannot see straight – this is just one example of the illogical, irrational and careless way of managing the city to the detriment of its residents.

Why can a city council be allowed to gamble with the lives of well over four million people in this way, why did the provincial or even the national governments not intervene?

Pack No Ego

He has soft blue eye and he is just over five feet tall, cannot

weigh more than fifty kilo’s. And he is threatening me and everybody

else. His lawyer apparently must be a direct descendant of Ivan the

Impaler. He mentions a lady’s name, repeatedly. Sue! And he must be a

gray little accountant as he keeps adding up the millions that Ivan the

Impaler and Sue will bring him from our empty pockets. I guess he is

also a concert director, by the way he waves his finger before my eyes.

Maybe he isn’t aware that, in my country, acts of intimidation are equal

to assault, both being criminal. His luggage must be heavy as he had

brought one helluva ego with him. At least twenty times the size of his

rather flimsy physique. Knowing Ivan the Impaler and Sue makes him

strong. Very strong.

“Eeen my kahntree, veee vill Sue zee for menny meelions, zee?” Zim

dollars, I hope!

Oh, the typical air of superiority of his tribe shines through. A

conundrum. Be friendly towards tourists, we also need their Euro’s. But

should we always be content to bear with the abuse we get from them,

even on the streets of our Mother City?

Our train is a few hours behind schedule. Guests flock together in the

Lounge Car and the Club Car. They play card games, have entertaining

conversations, enjoy a few drinks. This in the Club Car smoke a few

cigarettes with their whiskey. One lady guests encounters me in the

passage, her eyes glowing with delight. “This is the #GoodValueTrain”,

she says enthusiastically, “we can travel so much longer for the same

money.” So many others don’t even complain. They are mature enough to

know that airliners, ships, buses and cars get delayed, expecting it to

be no different with trains. A family member is an airline pilot: he had

to land his jet in Johannesburg the other day; passengers were on their

way to Durban. A little nasty detail in weather patterns caused a

deviation. Landing a few hundred miles off-target saved lives.

RSR (Rail safety Regulator) imposed several speed restrictions after

recent floods. Railroads were completely under water in some places. We

all know that the restrictions are not always necessary, but rather safe

than sorry, eh? I can agree to that! Don’t you gamble with MY life,

because I don’t. The train crawls across Africa at a third of its usual

speed. We see more game, more detail and also new things, because we now

travel in daylight through places we usually experience at night. We

see two eagles, in different places. Two steenbok, two ribbok, a few

kudu, eland, herds of springbok, ostriches. So many that I lose count.

The staff work more than an extra day’s shift, preparing two more meals

for 76 guests. Only once did one lose her usual smile, I think she

needed a hug. Someone threatened the already overworked lady with Ivan

the Impaler and Sue. The Bonnie & Clyde duo makes for scary thoughts.

Our elegant waitress regains her composure, fits a new smile and

soldiers on. I find a lot of heat in the kitchen. They are peeling

fresh veggies, while cooking up a storm. An extra lunch for 76 plus

staff, must be a hundred mouths to feed. Then another unscheduled dinner.

The little man with the huge ego has intimidated enough guests for one

day. He finally reaches the Train Manager, just by chance. He never

thought of going to the right person, the very friendly, efficient Train

Manager in the first place! No, he had to threaten almost every guest

on the train with his duo of quasi-medieval torturers. Terror! Imagine

being swathed to death by a Law Book and then bankrupted posthumously.

Train Manager, staff, drivers up front – none are to blame for any

delays, yet they have to take the flak coming from a little

Messerschmidt train fighter. Ever so diplomatically, faster road

transport is arranged, the EGO gets off-loaded (if it will fit into a

1-seater van….) and we continue our journey, munching away at the most

tender braised beef with a brown sauce, savoury rice and a choc-mint

creme brulee.

Their is peace in the palace as we enjoy the beautiful pastel coloured

mountains, as the sun is setting in the west, where we are heading. We

all just enjoy the increased travel time and the pleasure that comes

with it.

Maybe just one bloke was too small to peek outside and see the beauty. Or did his ego obstruct his pleasurable view?

 

Data Security – Travel Photography

On my very first trip on the world’s most awarded luxury train, The Blue Train of South Africa, the almost new Strontium microSD card failed in my camera. I lost some 100+ photographs, very much needed for my upcoming blog posts. I am not the only one who suffered as I frequently learn about the plight of others.

A solution to those who can afford it:

  • A camera with wireless networking ability, plus
  • A portable wireless hard drive, plus
  • A laptop, tablet or Smartphone with a large microSD card

The camera will upload automatically to the wireless portable hard drive which, in turn, can make instant backup copies to a portable device as mentioned. This is one way to ensure that you retain your data should either of these devices fail.

I would still suggest a second portable backup device such a portable USB hard drive, where data can be backed up after every day’s work has been completed.

Finally, digital photo formats are going to change so much in future that your typical BMP/JPG/PNG/GIF/TIFF files won’t be read by newer devices. it would be best to print your photos in hard copy as well!

It ain’t easy, eh?

Insolence

Yesterday, we were parked opposite the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town. I parked in such a way that I could easily get out of the parking, with the rear of the little Polo almost on the edge of the parking space. I do this because I have a problem with my neck, following an injury on one of the city’s new busses, some time ago. I don’t want to crane my neck as I almost always have a terrible headache ever since.

Suddenly, a young female (the term “lady” would be overtly generous) drove in with her scooter, parked it sideways in front of the car, leaving me no space to exit. Even before I could get out of the car, she disappeared from sight. By the time my wife had returned from her shopping, the scooter driver was still missing.

Note: it was in my demarcated parking space that she had intruded. Also, I paid for that parking and, if I had to stay for longer, I would have had to pay even more. We are not wealthy people, me living with disability. I also do not own the car and object to an added risk of possible damage, as was quite real in this case.

I started searching in nearby stores and asked if anyone knew where the scooter driver was. In one store, a young female admitted that it was her scooter. I politely asked her to remove it so that I could leave. That is where things started going south. Already in the wrong in terms of traffic law as well as moral principles, she found it necessary to chirp at me, telling me there was enough space.

As I am a retired soldier, we have our way to deal with obstacles, so I gave her a choice to remove it her way or I could remove it my way. I then left and went into the car. She came out, followed by a white male with graying hair, who came and banged at the car’s window. He also obstructed my path by standing in front of the car as I had tried to drive off. I nearly missed him.

This is typical of the arrogance we see in Cape Town and, with seven traffic officers to a shift in a city with over four million people, imagine the chaos on our roads!

When I reported this to the City of Cape Town, they were unhelpful, as usual.

Recently, a march was held to try oust the State President. Most South Africans have become arrogant, insolent and self-righteous. They do as they please and turn on anyone opposing their bad ways. It gets blamed on the President, on the blacks, on the ruling party, while nobody else seems to want to take responsibility for their own lives.

And the City of Cape Town will forward my complaint to the relevant department, where it will disappear and be forgotten. Nothing will change, as little or nothing had changed for the better over the past decade.

Then I am in the wrong for getting angry at this?

Within an hour, a similar situation presented itself; I am on the case of the errant driver, he was reported to his bosses as well as to the Traffic Department. And I was smart enough to post his picture on social media.

Since Cape Town cannot police its own streets, we citizens will need to step in and restore order ourselves. Perhaps time has come for a national traffic department that will have teeth.

Convenient ScapeGoat Metrorail

We lost everything due to the Metrorail strikes of April 2016, eventually even our home. We cannot, however, blame Metrorail as they were as much a victim as anyone else. Read for some perspectives!

My note to Tammy February in response to her article on #Metrorail

“Your article is biased and really badly researched! It is adding to the problem instead if fixing it. (You can read her article here)

I have been using Metrorail since 1987 and have been stranded once, ever, my wife twice. That was when outsiders attacked trains as part of the #FeesMustFall and #RhodesMustFall protests. A third time, we had to disembark and change to another train when #ZumaMustFall protesters so badly damaged a train that it had to be terminated.

Metrorail gets some R5 subsidy per passenger, compared to MyCity’s R22.50+ as reported to me by a senior(MyCity) officer a few years ago already. MyCity’s subsidy could be more by now, of course. It is MyCity, however, that causes people to walk on a daily basis, not Metrorail!

With an average of fifty acts of vandalism per month, trains gutted by rioting protesters, arsonists and the like – not related to Prasa’s service delivery – and then without support from Treasury, how do you expect Metrorail to operate? Add to this the fact that some eighty per cent of passengers board illegally, become very violent when confronted, can you imagine the cash drain? Security companies and SAPS are simply not strong enough to control the masses – military intervention would be the only possible solution. Imagine the cash drain – blame it on a criminal society, not on Metrorail! Please do some PROPER research before publishing opinions, fist get the facts! Yours was really very bad reporting which I strongly object against.

Signals equipment get stolen as trains just passed, we have seen this a few times. The next train then gets delayed for 40-50 minutes, as that needs manual authorization (same as aircraft from ATC) for every sector that it moves into!

Metrorail in Cape Town has been automated for decades; their systems aren’t designed for manual operation, there aren’t enough staff, either, for obvious reasons. You sound so smart, now come try run a public service under these conditions. You will fail within the first few seconds!

Most staff at Metrorail bend over backwards, they give their everything, they are tenacious and resilient yet gets flak from all over, especially from wet-behind-the-ears, opinionated reporters who had done little to get to the truth! I am retired and have been a competent person in my career life, worked in both public and private sectors, including enterprise. never have I seen such a will to succeed than I have seen at Metrorail in particular and Prasa in general. If Lucky Montana mismanaged funds and was corrupt, don’t paint all at Prasa with that brush.

Go do your job properly, go investigate the arson, sabotage, the criminality of passengers, then write a report on how much under siege Metrorail is – a tiny ship with torn sails fighting the perfect storm, yet doesn’t choose to just give up and founder. Report truth, not opinion.

It peeves me that everybody has an opinion but few seem to actually have any real knowledge!”

DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Prasa/Metrorail, I do not speak on their behalf and I am not paid by them.