Canon EOS 90D Canon EF 100 – 400 mm lens IG: @wooden_post


MYLENE WRITES: My husband Don and I live in Paarl now. We used to live in KZN and tried to visit the Kruger annually. Our most recent trip was our longest ever continuous stay – two weeks! This allowed us to slow down and sit in some areas for longer.

We were driving along the

H3, about 3 km from Skukuza, when a passer-by pointed out a “huge eagle” in a tree. It was this absolutely gorgeous white-headed vulture in supermodel pose with its mink scarf.

The moment was ours to savour as there were no other cars and no distractio­ns. I took a series of shots as the vulture rotated its head. I stabilised my camera on a bean bag and used a shutter speed of 1/400 second with an aperture of f7.1 at ISO 100.

Using Adobe Lightroom afterwards, I cropped the photo and enhanced the colour and the sparkle in the eye ever so slightly. The overcast sky brought out the pastel shades of the backdrop naturally.

Thanks to lockdown, we’ve become avid birders in the past 18 month. Confined to our home, we became acutely aware of the birds that came to visit. I dusted off my camera and started shooting.

TOAST SAYS: Birding is a great hobby. You can pick it up at any age – all you need is a bird guide, a pair of binoculars and the willingnes­s to spend time outside. If you are blessed with a big garden full of trees, shrubs and other plants, you won’t even have to drive anywhere to see birds – they’ll come to you. Knowing something about birds meant that Mylene and Don immediatel­y realised this wasn’t a “huge eagle”, but in fact one of our rarest vultures.

Mylene’s compositio­n is spot on. I love the position of the vulture’s head. Because its head is mostly side-on, we can see the curve and hook of the bill. The subtle pink and blue hues on its face are so delicate it looks like it’s had make-up applied by a profession­al. The “star” of sunlight reflected in its eye is crucial, and the black-and-white feathers on its body find a textural echo in the rough bark of the dead tree. Great stuff!

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