nature and wildlife photography and videography

Ntokozo Ndlovu - Gospel Artist - Playing at Yamaha SA

Inspiration for Thousands of Souls

Sometimes a chance meeting blossoms into a strong connection and friendship between folk from diverse backgrounds. I had the privilege of experiencing this recently after we were approached to film and edit an instrumental DVD for a gospel artist. By the time we had met, planned, shot and edited the first two videos, a part of my soul that I’d somehow lost touch with, was re-awakened.

Ntokozo Ndlovu is a talented gospel pianist who has earned a wide-spread audience around the world through his inspired interpretations of popular worship songs, which he and his supporting musicians play with passion and a deep sense of sincere faith.

When we first met, Ntokozo shared with me that he had been told about my and Naomi’s exploits into the African bush and that he loved the sample of work displayed here on our OV&P website. Our galleries include just a taste of the photos and videos that we’ve had the pleasure of capturing over the last 20+ years at unforgettable destinations like the Masai Mara in Kenya, the Okovango Swamps and Kalahari Desert in Botswana, as well as too many local wildlife getaways to list here.

What Ntokozo had in mind was firstly for us to create a nature-based video depicting the beauty and splendour of God’s creation, so we shot the footage at some pristine locations along the Crocodile River and in the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens. Then we choreographed and timed the various scenes to fit in with the melody of “We Glorify Your Name”, played by Ntokozo:

The second video that Ntokozo requested was wildlife-based. For this one we compiled some of the footage that we’ve gathered on our adventures into Africa, combined with scenes we shot of him driving around at a local game reserve during a visit that was arranged by my good friend and highly respected game guide, Brian Colling.

It was special to see how the experience of actual wildlife encounters and viewing our African Wildlife footage in our studio inspired Ntokozo, who chose to play a beautiful rendition of “Our God is an Awesome God” as the music track for this video. It is accompanied by powerful visuals of the awe-inspiring Big Five and enchanting footage of creatures as small as meerkats teasing some rhino, as well as dung beetles doing their thing on the ground. Take a look for a moving experience of your own:

In addition to creating these two videos, we filmed and edited 15 instrumental gospel tracks featuring Ntokozo and his band members performing at Yamaha South Africa’s world-class theatre facility. Our valued clients and associates at Yamaha generously provided all the high-tech Audio Visual (AV) equipment, musical instruments and moody lighting required to record the tracks and create a top quality production. To give you a sneak peek, the pic at the top of this post was taken during shooting.

A unique feature on some of these videos is that Ntokozo introduces a lovely young lady signing the words of the songs for deaf audiences who cannot hear the music but can appreciate the visuals, enhanced by her sharing the lyrics with them.

The feedback we’ve received from Ntokozo and his team has been truly heart-warming. We’re proud to have been instrumental in creating a unique set of videos that convey Ntokozo’s vision to inspire thousands of his followers to live wholesome lives and to develop their individual centres of influence into peace-loving and happy communities, wherever they may find themselves. We wish them all the very best and are grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute our expertise towards this worthy endeavour.

Playing at Kruger Park

What do you like to do with overseas visitors? We love to enjoy African wildlife together. So when our Swiss cousin Kevin recently popped out to SA with his family for a holiday, Naomi and I arranged a trip to Ngwenya Lodge at the Kruger National Park.

I deliberately took along only the essentials to take a couple of pics and probably no video. Yeah, right 😉 Kevin’s wife Anne had earned a reputation for finding big cats on her first trip to SA, when we saw 4 different Leopard sightings in 3 days! That was also at Kruger, many years ago, and if you know anything about the bush, you’ll know it’s incredibly rare. 2017 was right up there.

Anne was on form, and the family saw the Big Five in no time at all, including leopard. As we relaxed and shifted from Joburg mode into Bush mode, the trigger finger started itching and I really enjoyed shooting the wildlife we came across. A highlight was two Tawny Eagles (pictured above) battling it out in the sky overhead, which is tricky to capture because everything happens so fast.

I made the beginners mistake of not checking that I had spare batteries with me, assuming they would be in the camera bag. Wrong! They had been left behind on the desk in my studio. Plan B. Battery flat, great shots in the bag, so I capitulated and took one of our video cameras on the last evening/night drive just in case we saw anything special. Wow, we were spoilt for choice.

A pack of hyena hunting, hyena cubs in and around their den and lions mating right next to the game vehicles got our full attention. It was fun to see the reactions of the children and some Spanish folk we had met. They could barely believe their luck, but then I pointed out that we had “Annie find the Predators” with us, which contributed to much laughter and animated story telling.

To see some more photos, view our FB album: Kruger Park – July 2017, and here’s a short video of exciting highlights:

Early the next morning Naomi and I hit the road back to the ‘Big Smoke’ to do a shoot that we’d scheduled, leaving our cousins to enjoy a few more days in the bush. In true style, Anne spotted a leopard which posed proudly, allowing Kevin a chance to get some lovely pics of this magnificent, elusive predator for their holiday album. Pity we missed it, but there’s always a next time.

This trip reminded me of how important it is to get away sometimes with family and friends to places that feed the soul and allow us to truly relax and appreciate nature. I hope you feel inspired to take a trip somewhere special with your loved ones and recharge your batteries. Oh, on that note, don’t forget to take spare batteries for your cameras 😉

Olive Thrush Chicks photographed by Dave Estment

Patience is Rewarded

I recently noticed that there was an Olive Thrush painstakingly building a nest in the fork of a tree in our garden. My interest grew, watching as this hard-working bird carried in twigs, wet grass and even tissue paper to help line the bowl-shaped nest, followed by a thin layer of mud to smooth things off. What was interesting was that the female did all the work while the male just watched on.

A couple of days later I noticed that two light blue eggs with brown speckles had been laid in the nest. The male and female shared incubating duties until I pulled my cameras out as I noticed two tiny, pink chicks had hatched, their hearts beating wildly. I captured some of this special footage as they shuffled around trying to find a comfortable place to rest and grow, as the female brought in copious amounts of earthworms and insects to nourish them. I was astonished by the rate at which the chicks grew and started sprouting feather splines which quickly turned into proper feathers. Their wings seemed to take shape at an incredible rate of knots.

Each week for three weeks I filmed the chicks, until they were so big that there was no room left for them in the nest. Then something surprising happened. As I was filming them fighting for real estate in their cramped environment, one of them stood up and launched itself up and out of the nest and landed in the foliage below. Our Golden Retriever, Storm, darted into the undergrowth and gently picked up the half grown chick in his mouth and brought it to me. It was amazing to see his natural instincts kick in, handing me the little chick as gently as he had plucked it from the undergrowth.

I tried putting the chick back into the nest a couple of times, to no avail, before both chicks decided they had had enough and jumped out of the nest onto the nearest part of the tree fork, clinging on with their well developed, clawed feet. That’s when I learned something fascinating. This is the typical way that Olive Thrush chicks behave. Even though they have wing feathers and short tail feathers, they remain perched on the available branches in a tree for a month or so, while the mother continues to feed them until they are big enough to fly and start feeding themselves. It was the first time I had observed this behaviour in any bird.

Here’s the short video that I created so you can see some of this action for yourself:

All ended well as we now have four resident Olive Thrushes in our garden. Another interesting thing is the similarity of species such as the Olive, Karoo and Kurrichane Thrush. It was an enlightening experience right here at home as opposed to the many dramatic sightings we have enjoyed in the South African bushveld, as well as the Central Kalahari desert, Okavango Delta and the Masai Mara in Kenya. Enjoy the video and please share a comment below to let us know if you’ve seen something fascinating in your garden!