Wednesday, November 1, 2017

NJ More Field Guide College.


A first for "Travel & Things"...
I was recently tasked with presenting a Blogging course
 to the current students at the NJ More Field Guide College.
It was short notice for both the students and me,
but at the end of the two day course I believe that 
both they,and I, had learned from each other.

Every morning and evening I would accompany the students on game drive.
As my bush skills are not nearly as good as theirs,
 I paid close attention when something of interest was discovered.
They had just completed their tracking module,
and were very keen to test out their skills on tracks left in the road. 

I, when not engaged, was busy taking photographs to use in my lectures.
This bit of "Blair Witchery" was one of my favourites from the trip

This is the student accommodation.
 It consists of large shared tents with built in ablution facilities.
On a previous occasion when I visited the old college property, 
a tent similar to this was my "home" when I did a trails course
 with the legendary Bruce Lawson

Now that I was lecturing and not a course participant, I had a room in the main building
What I did not realize was that the mozzies would make a veritable meal of me on the first night.
I ended up sleeping with a towel over my head, which only dampened the sound of their whine.
On the subsequent nights I had a fan and cans of both Peaceful Sleep and Doom.

On my arrival I discovered all the vehicles with their bonnets open.
At first I thought that it was for a vehicle maintenance module.
Turns out that it was to stop small furry critters from making a home in the engine bay
and eating the wiring...needless to say, I made certain that my car followed suite.

Blogging is about telling a story.
What might this image convey?
Is it the out of focus Kudu or could it be the in focus grass
 in the foreground that needs to be written about?

Tell me the story...
Who what, where, when and why...
Even a "humble" Weaver nest, caught in the right light,
might be of interest to your Blog readers.

This area of the Waterberg is truly spectacular,
and these craggy cliffs dominate the skyline magnificently.
This area was once a sea/lake...and this top of this imposing rock formation
 was the bottom of that body of water.
Over the millennia the water vanished, but fossils of sea dwelling creatures
 can still be found in the vicinity.
There is so much geological history in the vicinity,
but who might be reading your Blog postings?
What knowledge might they gain from your experiential writing?
Hard facts can be gleaned from Google...
Write YOUR story.

Why are we so scared of spiders?
This web, lit by the early morning light is an example
of just how these arachnids can conjour beauty out of a simple strand of silk.
Tell me the story?
Focus on the beauty of this intricate web, 
rather than on the negatives that spiders seem to evoke. 

A lone Wildebeeste bull strikes a pose as we stop to admire the vista.
Why has he posed like this?
What might his reaction be if you were to approach him on foot.
At this college, the field guides are taught to hone there intuitive and interpretive skills.
And I hope that I showed them how to translate those skills into words.

African Spoonbills in the fading evening light...
Wading through the water, moving their bills from side to side. 
looking for a meal.

It is not always possible to write about people in a Blog.
There might be privacy issues, or perhaps they do not want to attract attention.
This is one of the students who was sitting in the road taking sunset images.

And this is what we were both taking images of.
There is NOTHING like an African sunset,
and the stories that can be told about them.
Are these birds going to their night roost or 
are they coming in to land?
What might your story be?

This was another image that I used in my lecture.
On game drives, one student would drive, while another sat up front on the tracker seat.
The essence of this image is that the student got off the seat
in order to follow spoor...
or might there be another story that can be told?

Getting the right shot to tell a story about is very important.
I took 7 images before getting this one where the eye is not covered by her paw.
This is probably the largest lioness I have ever seen.
Although there might have been action going on outside this image,
a Blogger will speak to the image that the reader can see...

Always be ready for the unexpected...
This dragon fly was clinging stalk just meters from where the lioness was.
Ideally I would have liked to have had the predator in the background,
but that would have entailed getting off the vehicle...
and I was not allowed to even consider that option.

Just one of the many dams in the Marataba section of this reserve.
It was the innate beauty and the juxtaposition of water, mountain and sky
that attracted my attention.
Not to mention the bird life that can be seen perched in the trees on the island.
Tell me the story?

A Ostrich (supposedly) sticks its head into the ground to "escape" danger or detection.
Perhaps this Impala is trying to do the same by hiding in this bush?

Tell me the story from the perspective of the student sitting in the back seat 
of the game drive vehicle...
What might he be thinking?
The object of Blogging is to tell a story based on an image.
Field guides have so many tales that they can share.
What will make them adept Bloggers is HOW they choose to share that information.

This is  Head Trainer, Phillip Wessels.
I learned so much from him during the game drives that I shared with the students.
Not only is he a mine of information on all creatures that either walk or fly,
his knowledge of trees made for some very interesting conversations.
Many thanks for your input, it was much appreciated.

If you think that this is the calling for you,
then contact the college via their website:




"Travel & Things" relies on Pentax  cameras
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"Travel & Things" images are printed 
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When I head off to the bush, I like to feel comfortable and look good.
I can achieve both in clothing supplied by:
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