Tanzania – wonderful wildlife safaris

Posted in Acratech, Africa, African Safari, Benro, better my photography, Birding, Birds, BlackRapid, Canon, Cheetahs, Columbia sportswear, elephants, Filters, how to photography, Hyenas, Induro, Jeff Cable, Kaenon, Lake Manyara, learn photography, Lenses, Lexar Digital Film, Light, lions, Marketing, Ndutu, Ngorongoro Crater, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Serengeti, Sigma, Tamron, Tanzania, Tarangire National Park, Tarangire NP, Tiffen, Travel, Travel Photography, warthog, water buffalo, waterbucks, wide-angle, wide-angle lens, zebra with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2017 by mmphototours
_E7A0993 Elephant under the Acacia B&W web ready

Elephant rendered in B&W – Canon 5D Mark III, f/11, 1/320, ISO 200, 35mm

_O5A1869 Lioness on a tree1 web ready.jpg

Lioness resting on a fallen tree – Canon 7D Mark II, f/4.5, 1/1000, ISO 2000, 74mm handheld in very low light right before sundown with thick cloud cover

Every year M&M ventures to Tanzania in January and sometimes in August to witness two of the greatest wildlife spectacles on earth.  In January I call it the reverse migration when wildlife returns to Tanzania from Kenya.  This is the calving season for many of the hoofed animals – zebra, wildebeest, gazelle, impala, and more.  It makes for great predator action.  In August we venture over again for the better known Great Migration and river crossing you have all heard about and seen images from many different sources.  This is when the migration leaves Tanzania for Kenya and the better grass across the border.  This post is meant to share just a few comments about Tanzania and several images from recent M&M trips.

Most of trips to Tanzania are all-inclusive – RT economy air from certain US gateway cities, all meals, all lodging, all ground transport, all park fees, world-class driver/guides, and more.  We usually fly through Amsterdam and then into Kilimanjaro International Airport just outside Arusha, Tanzania.

During most trips we visit the following areas – Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, and then spend as much time as possible in the Ndutu area, & Serengeti National Park.  Each area gives us a different view of the wildlife and the migration.  They also afford their own benefits and scenes for the wildlife photography we all desire.

We head to Tarangire for a few reasons – resident wildlife and the elephants.  The park has solid numbers of resident wildlife anytime of year.  This gives us a quick warm-up for what we’ll experience on the rest of the trip.  The Ngorongoro Crater needs no words.  With one of the world’s most dense resident wildlife populations it is hard not to see amazing wildlife or capture great images.  The crater offers one of the best wildlife experiences in all of Africa and certainly one of the top in Tanzania.  Ndutu is a region known for awesome wildlife year round.  The resident cats (lions, leopards, cheetah, and more) are some of my favorites here but there are also elephant, herds of zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, and more.  One of the pluses of a several day stay in Ndutu is the that off-road safari is allowed so you can track and get even closer to wildlife than in other areas.  Of course, we and our driver/guides maintain a respectable distance and give the wildlife the space they need to keep them comfortable.  The Serengeti is arguably the best National Park in all of Africa.  It offers excellent wildlife viewing year round and the space and numbers of animals in the park make every safari authentic and every safari participant yearning for more.

People often wonder what our lodging is like on safari.  Here I am going to give you links to the places we usually stay (our first picks) so you can decide for yourself.  We try to combine authentic safari experiences with several comfortable lodges/camps so our guests are comfortable, safe, and enjoy their time in Tanzania.  Of course, the food is always delicious…

We first stay at Rivertrees upon arrival – Rivertrees is set in a pleasant semi-rural location around 20km to the east of Arusha and is therefore convenient for Kilimanjaro International Airport.  It sits in beautiful informal gardens filled with large shady trees and is centered on a lovely old farmhouse.  https://www.expertafrica.com/tanzania/arusha/rivertrees-country-inn

Our next stop is one of two camps in Tarangire National Park.  Tarangire Safari Lodge – Tarangire is situated in an impressive hilltop position deep inside the reserve, with extensive views from camp of wildlife along the river. It is a simple facility, but with very nice well-intentioned owners.  Tarangire offers good quality dry season wildlife, notably superb elephant viewing Jun-Dec.  Additional activities include vehicle safari and balloon safari, plus some modest walking safari and night vehicle safari.  https://www.expertafrica.com/tanzania/tarangire-national-park/tarangire-safari-lodge  Or, we’ll use Tarangire Ndovu Camp depending on group makeup and numbers.  Ndovu is a medium specification mobile tented facility in a quiet location in the northeast of the reserve. It is a comfortable camp, with just six guest tents. Activities include daytime vehicle safari, with possible options for walking safari and night vehicle safari. Wildlife viewing is usually at its best during the dry season, Jun-Dec, particularly strong for elephants.  http://www.nasikiacamps.com/tarangire-ndovu-camp.html

Our next stop is the Ngorongoro Crater.  Here we always try to use Lemala Ngorongoro Camp.  Lemala is a high quality mobile tented camp set on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater.  It includes a comfortable and nicely appointed mess and nine pleasant guest tents, with reliable owners and a reputation for a really good atmosphere amongst the camp staff.  The lodge is on the better northern side for weather and for early access into the crater.  Vehicle safari into the Ngorongoro Crater itself is the main activity, with walking and cultural activities also being possible.  https://www.expertafrica.com/tanzania/ngorongoro-crater/lemala-ngorongoro

We always try to book Lake Masek Tented Camp in Ndutu.  Lake Masek is a medium specification permanent tented lodge set in the important Ndutu area and is open year round, with the main migration often being in the area Nov/Apr.  The lodge offers a relatively high level of conventional comforts, especially compared with the mobile tented camps which are so numerous in this area during the migration season.  https://www.expertafrica.com/tanzania/serengeti-migration-area/lake-masek-tented-camp  Another option we have on hold often is Kubu Kubu Tented Camp.  Kubu Kubu is Situated on a gentle hillside with broad views of the Central Serengeti area and is a medium specification permanent tented camp.  It is centered on a large circular structure which contains the lounge and dining areas, leading out to a large swimming pool.  Guest accommodation is in a total of 25 spacious tents on raised platforms and with great views, which are suitable for up to five people, making this place a big favorite for families and camera clubs.  Activities are centered on vehicle safari, with the area offering very solid wildlife viewing year round, notably with incredible predator sightings.  The migration usually passes through May-Jun and Nov-Dec.  http://www.africatravelresource.com/kubu-kubu-tented-camp/

Depending on the time of year and camp availability we’ll use one of two of three camps in The Serengeti.  We always like to give folks the experience of a true “roughing it” camp so we use Ronjo Camp.  Ronjo is a medium specification mobile tented camp set in a relatively quiet location in Central Serengeti.  It offers an authentic safari experience, with animals often passing through camp. The camp has a pleasant canvas mess and around sixteen reasonably comfortable guest tents.  It is a closed access camp, which means it does not accept vehicles from other operators, which can lead to a much more intimate atmosphere.  http://www.africatravelresource.com/ronjo-camp/  After a couple of nights at Ronjo we’ll move our guests to one of two more upscale camps – Dunia Camp or Kaskaz Camp.  Dunia is a high specification mobile tented camp is in a relatively quiet location in Central Serengeti.  It offers an authentic safari experience, with animals often passing through camp.  The camp has a lovely canvas mess and around eight guest tents. It is elegantly presented and genially hosted.  Activities are centered on vehicle safari, with the area offering very solid wildlife viewing year round with incredible predator sightings, especially Jul-Oct.  The migration usually passes through May-Jun and Nov-Dec. https://www.expertafrica.com/tanzania/serengeti-migration-area/dunia-camp  Kaskaz is a small and relatively upmarket mobile tented camp with eight guest tents .  Kaskaz offers style and grace in the northern Serengeti – we use this camp for the August Great Migration safari.  http://www.nasikiacamps.com/Kaskaz-Mara-Camp.html

We cap every trip off with a stay at Gibbs Farm (when available and we book far enough in advance.  This place is an oasis after a safari and bring a level of comfort and peace that unrivaled in Tanzania.  Gibbs Farm has been voted Best Safari Hotel in Africa in the past.  Gibb’s Farm imparts a sense of well-being, tranquility and history—deeply rooted in African culture and community—in a warm, rustic luxury environment.  A peaceful sanctuary to rejuvenate the senses while on safari in Tanzania, the farm features cozy, well-appointed cottages, breath-taking scenery and wildlife and unique cultural activities that allow you to fully experience the rhythms and beauty of the farm, community and nature.  http://www.gibbsfarm.com/

Hope you have enjoyed our little piece on our Tanzania adventures.  We’d love to host you on one of our Tanzanian safaris sometime soon.  We have tours coming up in August 2017 that has 2 spots available, one in January 2018 that still has multiple spots open, one in August 2018 that has multiple spots open, and back-to-back luxury trips scheduled for January & February 2019 with guest pro Jeff Cable.


Eastern European Adventure

Posted in Acratech, Benro, Berlin, Berlin Wall, better my photography, BlackRapid, Blue Hour, Budapest, Canon, Chain Bridge Budapest, Charles Bridge, Clik Elite, Columbia sportswear, Deb Sandidge, Deborah Sandidge, Eastern Europe, Europe, Filters, how to photography, Hunt's Photo & Video, Induro, Krakow, Poland, learn photography, Lenses, Lexar Digital Film, Light, Mikulov, Moscow Russia, Night photography, Old Town Prague, Our Savior on Spilled Blood, Parliament Building Budapest, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Poland, Prague, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Schonbruun Palace, Sigma, St Vitus stained-glass, St. Basil's Moscow, St. Petersburg Russia, Tamron, Tatra Mountains images, Tiffen, Travel, Travel Photography, Vienna, Warsaw Poland, wide-angle, wide-angle lens with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2017 by mmphototours

Last September we took a 3 week adventure which started in Berlin and took us to Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, The High Tatra Mountains, Krakow, Warsaw, St. Petersburg, and Moscow.  7 countries and many wonderful sites, meals, and people over the 3 week trek.

We saw the great sites of Berlin but what caught our eye most was the street art and the remaining Berlin Wall.  We love history and we were right in the middle of it!

Berlin was awesome – look forward to going back soon.

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Street art – Berlin

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Brandenburg Gate – Berlin

The Great Wall is covered in new art – found this one powerful – tells the story of the thousands that wanted to escape the oppression they suffered:

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Berlin Wall art

Next was my favorite city in central Europe – Prague.  Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in all of Europe with great sites, food, people, and history.  There is so much that can be written about Prague but we do not have the skills to do it justice so we’ll just share some images…

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Charles Bridge and more – Prague

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Old Town – Prague

After Prague we had a nice and relaxing visit to Mikulov and Cesky Krumlov.  Loved this scene:

_E7A1546 Cesky Krumlov wall web ready

Street scene – Mikulov

Next on the adventure is Vienna – quick and easy is Vienna.  Again, so much can be said about Vienna and her history but that is for a different day.  We enjoyed a nice Blue Hour shoot at Schonbrunn Palace:

_E7A1884 Shounbrunn Palace at Blue Hour web ready

Schonbrunn Palace – Vienna

Had not been to Budapest in a few years BUT got to go twice in the course of 1 month!  Right before this wonderful 3 week adventure I spent a week in Budapest and Prague with good friends.  Didn’t have any real-time for photography with my friends but was able to get some shots to update things on the longer trip.

_E7A2148 Hungarian Parliament at Blue Hour web ready

Parliament Building – Budapest

_E7A2051 Budapest Blue Hour - Castle and Chain Bridge web ready

Chain Bridge and more – Budapest

Bratislava and The High Tatra Mountains were next.  Loved the mountains and the relaxation and fresh air…

Krakow & Warsaw were next on the menu.  Once again, more history than we can shake a stick at BUT plenty of cool images to be had if you get out and walk – and look – and shoot.  We are only sharing a few from Warsaw for now…

We wrapped up the trip with a few days each in St. Petersburg and then Moscow, Russia.  We have lots we could say about our visit but will withhold here.  Weather was not the best, we were rushed (beyond our control), and had a few locals that were less than friendly with us.  Even with all that we still we happy to come home with a some images we like.  Hope you do too.

_E7A3404 St. Basil's Moscow1 web ready

St. Basil’s – Moscow, Russia

Hope you enjoy the quick trip with us.  We have a blast on all our trips and have some excellent ones coming up – Uganda for the mountain gorillas, Tanzania, Cuba, Japan, Indochina, China, New Zealand, Myanmar & Thailand, and more.  Let us know which one interests you.

Cuba – Gotta go before it all changes

Posted in 1, Acratech, Benro, better my photography, Canon, Cars of Cuba, Cienfuegos Cuba, Classic Cars of Cuba, Clik Elite, Colors of Cuba, Columbia sportswear, cuba, Cuba photo tour, Cuba photo tours, Deb Sandidge, Deborah Sandidge, Filters, Hamel Street photography, Havana Cuba, how to photography, Hunt's Photo & Video, Images of Cuba, Induro, Jeff Cable, Kaenon, Light, Marketing, People of Cuba, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Sigma, Street scenes of Cuba, Tiffen, Travel Photography, Trinidad Cuba, Vinales Cuba, wide-angle, wide-angle lens with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2017 by mmphototours

CUBA – what a wonderful place to photograph and experience some of the best hospitality on earth.  Cuba may be stuck in time but will not remain that way for too many more years – YOU gotta go before it all changes.

_E7A6110 Cuban Flag hanging on building web ready

We spent a wonderful 10 day trip to Havana, Vinales, Trinidad, and Cienfuegos in late November and early December.  It was a first time visit for all our guests and I dare say they all came home happy and with awesome images.

We were lucky – I think – in that we arrived in Havana just a few days after Fidel Castro died so we got to experience a side of Cuba that will only happen once – the mourning period for their Fidel.  We had the privilege of attending 2 nights of services for him in Havana where it was obvious that many people supported their Fidel.  The second image is just one of four main streets at the plaza and well before it was filled to capacity.  We wandered, photographed, took video, and even spoke with folks about their Fidel.  One of those Once In-A-Lifetime Experiences that you will never forget.

_E7A6616 July 26 and Cuban flag web ready

_E7A6509 Crowd gathers for Fidel web ready

Cuba is lively, colorful, and greets you with open arms.  We felt safe, secure, and welcome everywhere we went.  The trip was about photography so here are some of our favorite images.

First up – everyone loves Cuba for the old classic cars.  They look old and classic on the outside but the truth is these cars have been rebuilt and many use diesel engines and other non-original systems BUT the bodies and interiors have been babied and painstakingly “restored.”  We could do an entire post on the vehicles but we’ll save that for another time.

The art work is another great attraction to Cuba – COLORS and more COLORS!  It does not matter which neighborhood you are in there is art work and color everywhere.  We enjoyed Hamel Street and other areas – the graffiti is colorful and well done.

We loved simply wandering the streets to see what we’d find – we found a lot to photograph – there is so much there we have to go back often to get it all.  It did not matter if we were in Havana, Trinidad, Vinales, or Cienfuegos – the beauty of the country and her people is amazing.  Yes, this is one of the favorite parts of our job – traveling the world and meeting new people and making friends and learning about each other.

As with any trip, the people make Cuba special.  The following are some of our favorite “people” shots from this visit.

We hope you enjoy the post.  We’d love to host you on one of our global photo tours and would love to have you join us for an upcoming CUBA photo tour with one of guest pros.

Please take a look at http://www.mmphototours.com for a complete list of upcoming trips or contact us at mikeg@mmphototours.com with any questions you have about the trips.

Italy 2016 Adventure

Posted in 1 on August 29, 2016 by mmphototours

Italy is a country that amazes with her beauty, food, people, and varied landscapes.  This is why at M&M we rotate 3 different tours – Best of Italy, Classic Tuscany, & Northern Italy & Lake District photo tours.  This post is from the 2016 Best of Italy adventure.

_E7A5094 Manarola long shutter web ready

Manarola long exposure with storm clouds

This year’s adventure started on the Cinque Terra where we enjoyed varied weather.  The shot above was shot at f/22 for 2 seconds at ISO 100 at 24mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 24-105L IS lens.

_E7A6509 Gondolas at Blue Hour in Venice web ready

Venice Gondola Blur at Blue Hour

Venice never disappoints.  We also hit Burano while in the area but this was the shot selected for the this post.  The shot above was shot at f/22 for 30 seconds at ISO 100 at 25mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 16-35L lens.

_E7A6555 Ponte Vecchio Blue Hour web ready

Ponte Vecchio at Blue Hour

Florence has so much to shoot and our groups love Blue Hour.  The image above was shot at f/16 for 8 seconds at ISO 160 at 35mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and a Canon 16-35L lens.

_E7A6603 Florence Cathedral Dome B&W web ready

Florence Duomo B&W

The Florence Cathedral is an architectural marvel with shapes, patterns, and simplicity.  The above image was shot at f/8 for 1/640 of a second at ISO 400 at 70mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 70-200L IS II lens.

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Pisa and river with storm clouds

While doing our walk along the river in Pisa some EPIC storm clouds formed and the light on the buildings facing us was great.  The above image was shot was shot at f/22 for 1/40 of a second at ISO 400 at 24mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 24-105L IS lens.

_E7A6843 Pisa Field od Miracles web ready

Pisa – Leaning Tower and Cathedral with storm clouds

The weather continued while we wandered the Field of Miracles shooting the Pisa Cathedral and Leaning Tower.  The above image was shot was shot at f/22 for 2 seconds at ISO 100 at 28mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 24-105L IS lens.

_E7A7019 Group reflection in sunglasses web ready

Fun with reflections

While waiting for the light to shift we decided to have some fun with mirrored sunglasses.  Harvey modeled them and I caught most of the group in the reflection.  The above image was shot was shot at f/4 for 1/60 of a second at ISO 2000 at 105mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 24-105L IS lens.

_E7A7137 Amalfi Coast sunset web ready

Amalfi Coast sunset

The Amalfi Coast is so full of beauty and color it is nearly impossible not to come home with some pleasing shots.  The above image was shot was shot at f/9 for 1/125 of a second at ISO 800 at 40mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 24-105L IS lens.

_E7A7498 Faraglioni Rocks Capri web ready

Capri Islands Faraglioni Rocks

The boat ride around Capri was eventful – a little wind, a little water, some cool clouds and the iconic Faraglioni Rocks.  The above image was shot was shot at f/6.3 for 1/1250 of a second at ISO 800 at 28mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 24-105L IS lens.

_E7A7521 Blue Grotto boats web ready

Capri Blue Grotto boats

As we were departing the port we walked past these extra boats which locals use to take folks to the famous Blue Grotto on Capri Island.  I added a bit of grunge for effect and the help the weathered look stand out.   The above image was shot was shot at f/8 for 1/800 of a second at ISO 400 at 35mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 24-105L IS lens.

_E7A7537 Boats in Sorrento Harbor web ready

Sorrento Boats

Sorrento is known for boats.  Evening light and the color cast shadows of the right hand boats makes this shot for me.  The above image was shot was shot at f/8 for 1/1000 of a second at ISO 400 at 400mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 70-200L IS II lens w/ 2x extender.

_E7A7622 Looking at St Peters Dome across river at Blue Hour web ready

Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II & St. Peter’s Dome Color at Blue Hour

We always end the Best of Italy trip in Rome.  There is simply so much to see and shoot.  Can’t do Rome and not include a Blue Hour.  The above image was shot was shot at f/16 for 10 seconds at ISO 100 at 45mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 25-105L IS lens.

_E7A7622 Looking at St Peters Dome across river B&W web ready

Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II & St. Peter’s Dome B&W

A B&W rendition of the color image above.

_E7A7652 Arch of Constantine Vignette Lens web ready

Arch of Constantine – Rome

Putting a little more art in my imagery – shooting an arch through an arch.  Shot from inside the Coliseum.   The above image was shot was shot at f/11 for 1/400 of a second at ISO 400 at 40mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 25-105L IS lens.

_E7A7755 Trevi Fountain web ready

Trevi Fountain

On our last night we wandered till last and found the freshly restored Trevi Fountain refreshing and unobstructed.  The above image was shot was shot at f/16 for 5 seconds at ISO 100 at 28mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 25-105L IS lens.

Hope you enjoy.  We visit Italy every year and will hit northern Italy and the Lake District next May.  Check out http://www.mmphototours.com for all our tour offerings.  Hope to have you join us soon.



Sigma 150-600 C lens test in Tanzania

Posted in 1, Africa, African Safari, Benro, better my photography, Birding, Birds, BlackRapid, Canon, Clik Elite, Columbia sportswear, elephants, how to photography, Induro, Kaenon, Lake Manyara, learn photography, Lenses, Lexar Digital Film, lions, Marketing, Ngorongoro Crater, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Serengeti, Sigma, Tanzania, Tarangire NP, Travel, Travel Photography, warthog, waterbucks, zebra with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2016 by mmphototours
_E7A8391 Elephant walk web ready.jpg

Young elephant crossing the river in Tarangire National Park

In June of 2016 Mike G had the chance to make a visit to Tanzania with family and friends where he spent several days testing the Sigma 150-600 C lens in three different Tanzanian National Parks – Tarangire, Ngorongoro, & Lake Manyara.

Bottom line – Mike G, who has used the Tamron 150-600 VC lens and Canon L series big glass on African safaris in the past, was very pleased with the lens and feels it is every bit the lens the Tamron is with possibly better stabilization and color reproduction and offers a better bang for your buck than the much more expensive Canon or Nikon options.

All of the following images were taken with a Canon 5D Mark III and the Sigma 150-600 C lens.

_E7A8312 Waterbuck family web ready

Waterbuck family checking surroundings

Elephant crossing the river in Tarangire NP

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Elephant crossing the river Tarangire National Park


The first thing most people are going to notice with this lens is the price tag – much less than the Canon 100-400 II, Nikon 80-400 VR, Canon 200-400 w/ 1.4x, or any of the prime BIG glass lenses either Canon or Nikon offer.  And, you are gonna save size vs a few of the other options while not adding much bulk vs some of the slightly smaller options – Canon 100-400 II or even Nikon 80-400 VR.

High quality glass is vital to the optical quality of any image.  The quality Mike G observed in this test shows that the 150-600 C is an excellent lens with high quality workmanship coming out of the Sigma Aizuwakamatsu (where Mike actually lived for several months while a young man) factory in Japan.  The FLD & SLD glass elements help the lens achieve a high degree of clearer, sharper, greater clarity and excellent contrast across the focal range.  While not weather-sealed like its Big Brother the S version the lens should withstand most light weather situations but you’ll want some form of heavy weather protection should you venture out in heavy rain/snow.

Mike G finds the lens be very sharp at all focal lengths up till about 550mm – especially when stopped down to f/8.  Above 550mm stopping down to f/11 helps keep the center of images sharp and clean.

_E7A8184 Lilac Breasted Roller web ready

Lilac-Breasted Roller checking surroundings

The next thing you are going to notice is a wonderful range (150-600mm) which will allow you to fix this lens on your favorite camera body and shoot all day without changing lenses – which can be extremely convenient and save a lot of sensor cleaning while out on safari – or even shooting birds in the backyard or wildlife in Yellowstone National park.  With a minimum focusing distance of 110.2″ critters will have to be pretty close – 9.2′ or just a tad over 3 yards away to not focus.  If you are that close to any wildlife you had better be near small wildlife that cannot hurt you or in vehicle that can help protect you.  For sporting events – depending on the event – it can be the lens that reaches out and touches the action.

Some of you may ask – what about the min/max aperture range of the lens – f/5-6.3 – f/22 and capturing images in low light?  Not a concern if you are shooting with a relatively new body that handles noise/high ISO situations well.  Feel free to bump that ISO up to keep your shutter speed up if needed.  Plus, the Sigma Optical Stabilization, which includes an accelerometer for better panning results, is going to get gain you anywhere from 2 – 3 stops when handholding with good, solid technique.  So, go ahead and shoot away.

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Wildebeest males battle during rut

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Male lion surveying Ngorongoro Crater surroundings

How about the auto focus performance you may ask?  Mike G found it to be very accurate, fast, and quiet.  The Sigma Hyper Sonic Motor is reliable and Mike G found it be a bit faster than the Tamron 150-600.  The lens does also come with a focus limiter switch which can be handy when subjects are more than 33+ feet away.

_E7A9288 Warthogs in wild flowers web ready

Warthog family lounging in the short grasses of Ngorongoro Crater

_E7A8377 Young elephant water-crossing web ready.jpg

Young elephants crossing the river in Tarangire National Park

Do we (Mike G) recommend this lens?  Yes.  This lens offers great image quality at an excellent price point.  The outstanding performance seen coupled with the savings makes this lens a viable option for even the most serious wildlife photographers.

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Lounging gazelle

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Scotland in the Spring

Posted in Benro, better my photography, BlackRapid, Canon, Castles in Scotland, Clik Elite, Columbia sportswear, Edinburgh, Eilean Donan Castle, Europe, Filters, Fingal's Cave, Highland cattle, Highland cow, Induro, Iona Island, Kerrara Island, Lexar Digital Film, Lighthouses, Scotland, Scottish Shortbread, Shipwrecks in Scotland, Staffa Island, Tamron, Tiffen, Tobermorey, Wool Sweaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2015 by mmphototours
Who doesn't like Scottish Shortbread?

Who doesn’t like Scottish Shortbread?

There is never a bad time to go to Scotland.  It is beautiful year round – you may have to define your beauty but there is plenty there to find, enjoy, soak-in, and photograph.

Who doesn't love Scottish wool sweaters?

Who doesn’t love Scottish wool sweaters?

We ventured to Scotland and many of her beautiful isles in April of this year (2015).  We got every kind of weather you’d expect for April in Scotland – rain, snow, wind, sleet, bright sun, clouds, warm, cold, and more.  Driving some of the single track roads and smelling the pungent odor of a whiskey distillery as approached was enough to excite even the oldest in our group.  The drives made the trip – the photography completed the drives.

The most photographed castle in Scotland.

The most photographed castle in Scotland.

Eilean Donan castle is the most photographed castle in Scotland and one that we spent several hours at.  The light and weather were different each time – sometimes VERY flat and diffused and others with nice light and shadows coupled, like in this image, with clouds and snow on the peaks behind/beside it.  The castle is awesome in almost every light and a place where every photographer should spend a couple of visits with during a stay.

The Highland cattle is classic Scotland and I’d be remiss if I did not include a shot of one – he had an itch:

Highland cow with an itch.

Highland cow with an itch.

Part of Scotland’s heritage is boats/ships.  I thoroughly enjoyed the various ships/boats and lighthouses we saw and tried to work/photograph each of them as we wandered the coast and specific islands.  One quick note, the boat ride to Staffa was probably the most fun I have had on a boat in years.  The waves of the North Atlantic were epic and the little boat just rolled and pounded through them like a duck in the eye of a storm.  It is something I look forward to again next June.

Kerrara Island was a sweet visit for the shipwreck and the castle.

Kerrara Island was a sweet visit for the shipwreck and the castle.

Abandoned boats on Tobermory.

Abandoned boats on Tobermory.

Lighthouse on the way to Mull Island - love the colors and shadows.

Lighthouse on the way to Mull Island – love the colors and shadows.

Staffa and her famous cave…

Fingal's Cave & Staffa Island Scotland.

Fingal’s Cave & Staffa Island Scotland.

Eilean Donan is too beautiful not to show a couple more shot…enjoy.

Eilean Donan castle reflection at low water.

Eilean Donan castle reflection at low water.

Eilean Donan castle and bridge walk way with rocks.

Eilean Donan castle and bridge walk way with rocks.

Genealogy is a worldwide craze and many Americans can trace their heritage back to Scotland.  On this trip we had a mother-daughter pair that was/is into Scottish history, genealogy, and the lore of the Clans of Scotland.  It made for great conversation.  Couple that with our local guide Chris and our guest pro Neil Downey (www.neilalexander.net) , a native Scot – our group not only got the shot but we learned a lot about the country and her people – past and present.  It was a great educational experience for me (Mike Gulbraa) which I enjoyed.

Iona was bathed in beautiful sun….The Island of Iona was a special visit for several in the group.

The beautiful bay of Iona Island.

The beautiful bay of Iona Island.

Iona Island bay with Abbey included.

Iona Island bay with Abbey included.

Anyone that knows me knows that I love stained-glass…this gem is from the Iona Abbey.

Iona Abbey stained-glass.

Iona Abbey stained-glass.

There is so much more to Scotland than any one Blog post can express.  Oban, Edinburgh, Tobermory, and more were simply awesome to wander and shoot.  The Scottish people are kind, intelligent, and passionate about their freedom and, I learned, about their whiskey – our group had nightly tastings (which I observed) and they seemed to enjoy most of what they sampled and even brought home several bottles.  Here are my last few images for this post…hope you enjoy and that you will consider joining us in June 2016 for our next (warmer) adventure to Scotland – details here: http://tinyurl.com/pv7tf24

Tobermory colored homes.

Tobermory colored homes.

Edinburgh night street scene.

Edinburgh night street scene.

Wonderous Namibia

Posted in 1, Acratech, Africa, African Safari, Benro, BlackRapid, Canon, Clik Elite, Columbia sportswear, Induro, Kaenon, Lexar Digital Film, Namobia, Sand Dunes, Tamron, Tiffen with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2015 by mmphototours
Dead Vlei Dunes - Namibia

Dead Vlei Dunes – Namibia

We have visited many awesome countries and cultures in our travels.  There are so many that it is hard to list and explain how many awesome places there are on earth for photography let alone on learning about people and cultures.

Namibia is one that will blow you away with awesome photography and some of the hardest working and nicest people on earth.

Our visit to Namibia in March of 2015 was full of fun with an awesome group and the best local guides one could ask for.  The lodging was world-class and the food was simply amazing.  Our evening bush dinner was a highlight – the Oryx and Zebra were rather tasty.

Group at tropic of Capricorn

Group at Tropic of Capricorn

Swakopmund Hotel

Swakopmund Hotel

We were there to get to know the country a bit more and shoot as much as possible.  Namibia DID NOT disappoint in any regard.  There are so many images waiting that it is almost impossible to go too many minutes without capturing a stellar image.  It is always a good omen when you wander out on your first day in country and it starts to rain – but only lasts a few minutes and then you are presented with an awesome double rainbow…

Double Rainbow on first day of shooting

Double Rainbow on first day of shooting

Namibia possesses some of the most stunning landscapes in Africa.  A trip through the country is one of the greatest road adventures to be had on earth.  This was our journey – the roads and sites of southern Namibia.  Namibia gained its independence March 21, 1990 after having passed through the hands of the Germans as a colony and then being tossed around as German South-West Africa and then South West Africa – part of South Africa.

There are so many natural wonders in Namibia but the desolate desert roads where granite rises out of dense red-colored desert sand is what will dazzle and amaze.  This trip for us concentrated on the southern half of the country – the sand dunes and coast.  We’ll save the wildlife of Etosha National Park for a combined trip in the near future.  In our opinion there is simply no place else of earth that provides the vast and amazing sand dunes and coast of Namibia.

Dead Vlei Trees Low Profile

Dead Vlei Trees Low Profile

Dead Vlei Triplets

Dead Vlei Triplets



Climbing Big Daddy Dune

Climbing Big Daddy Dune



Sand Dune Ripples

Sand Dune Ripples

Sossuvlei Dunes

Sossuvlei Dunes

The people of Namibia are kind, gracious and always smiling.  We also found them to be very happy to allow us to capture some shots of them doing their thing.

Namibian Bushmen

Namibian Bushmen

Kalahari Ferrari

Kalahari Ferrari

Gunther The Chopper Pilot

Gunther The Chopper Pilot

One of the most popular sites to visit is the Ghost town of Kolmanskop – the eerie images of the old buildings being recaptured by the sands of the desert remind us of the power of Mother Nature and make for some classic shots.

Kolmanskop Door in Sand

Kolmanskop Door in Sand

Kolmaskop Ghost Town

Kolmanskop Ghost Town

Kolmanskop Ghost Town

Kolmanskop Ghost Town

Kolmanskop Ghost Town

Kolmanskop Ghost Town

We even found some desert wildlife with the help of Tommy who is an awesome guide and has a great sense of humor to boot.

Mountain Zebras

Mountain Zebras



Desert Critter

Desert Critter

Chameleon On The Run & Changing Colors

Chameleon On The Run & Changing Colors On Hot Sand

Oryx B&W

Oryx B&W

Chameleon Catch

Chameleon Catch

We hope you’ve enjoyed our little trip through what we enjoyed most about Namibia.  We look forward to returning again soon – April 1-17, 2016 (travel days included) with a fine group of photographers and invite you to join us as well as we cover both the southern and northern parts of the country and include Etosha National Park and the wildlife in the trip itinerary.  For details visit here:


Sunset on Namibia Coast

Sunset on Namibia Coast