..:: SA*GA Photography – Moments in Light » Nature Photography Blog by Sandra Schänzer

We luckily had four nights at Thonga Beach Lodge and I was blessed with three wonderful sunrises. So we only had one morning with a thick bank of clouds in the east but there was no drama in the air as the water was still very wild from the storm of the previous night. I spent a very happy hour playing with the waves and once again, it was so much fun to wait for the perfect wave. These two photos are the result of a very delightful morning – hope you enjoy!

Indian Ocean

Indischer Ozean

Lake Sibaya is South Africa’s largest fresh water lake with a surface area of 77 km² and an average depth of 13 metres. We went there twice during a sundowner trip from Thonga Beach Lodge and enjoyed wonderful African sunsets over the lake. A Purple heron was looking out for fish on a rock with a small group of hippos next to him. After sunset, the whole landscape was bathed in the soft colours of dusk and the atmosphere was very peaceful and calm.

Lake Sibaya

We could stay until the stars came out on the second trip (thanks Bheki!!!) an enjoyed the gorgeous view over the lake with the starry sky above. What a fantastic evening!
Stars over Lake Sibaya

Our South Africa photos are almost all edited and developed and so I had a look at unprocessed files from spring this week. I thought I had done at least a few per specie but found out that I have not shown a single photo of the beautiful Alpine Squill (Scilla bifolia) that I took in March close at home near Basel.
I really like these delicate tiny flowers and enjoyed two nice evenings in the forest but I was also appalled at the sheer amount of ticks that were present! They clearly have invaded the northwestern part of Switzerland from north now and are clearly not the only unwanted immigrants in this country:P;)

Blausternchen (/Scilla bifolia)

Alpine squill (Scilla bifolia)
  • Adit Merkine - 24/07/2014 - 15:21

    Hi Sandra,

    Beautiful! Bravo!!!


    Adit MerkineReplyCancel

  • Steve Gingold - 24/07/2014 - 21:12

    Lovely, Sandra.. It is so nice to occasionally look back to spring during the middle of the hot summer. :-) ReplyCancel

  • Jim Flowers - 26/07/2014 - 04:14

    Absolutely Lovely!!!ReplyCancel


We stayed four nights in the Leopard Mountain Lodge and took part in every game drive but we had to wait until the very last morning until we were lucky enough to find the lion family. And the best was: in lovely light! We first saw them strolling in the dry river at a good distance away but when we passed along on the other side about half an hour later, I spotted Mummy cuddling with two cubs in the grass. What a fantastic sight and what a cute scene – we were just blown away!

Lion family

Lion family (Panthera leo)

Lion cuddling
  • Judy Davis - 21/07/2014 - 11:04

    Stunning photos!!ReplyCancel

  • Steve Gingold - 22/07/2014 - 09:26

    All very nice, but the family portrait on top is wonderful, Sandra.ReplyCancel


I don’t find caterpillars very often on my local meadow, most probably because they don’t tend to settle right next to the path;)So I felt rather lucky when I came across this beautiful caterpillar of the Cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae) a few weeks ago. It was posing nicely on a stem and was patient enough for a couple of photos. This caterpillar was the only subject I found on this particular evening and I returned home happily with a few shots – though the colours of this little chap don’t actually match the colours of my favourite German football team – just the opposite:o

Cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae)
  • Andrew Hardacre - 18/07/2014 - 05:12

    Photographed in the Ruhrgebiet?ReplyCancel

  • Steve Gingold - 18/07/2014 - 21:44

    Very nice, Sandra. What is the background? Such a lovely color.ReplyCancel


I must admit that I find pure sandy beaches pretty boring and so I tried to find an interesting location via Google Earth for our stay at the Indian ocean before I finally booked our holiday. I was very happy that it all worked perfectly well when I walked down to the beach at low tide and found these beautiful rock patterns. They were only visible at low tide and even disappeared one morning after a heavy storm the night before! So this beach was not boring at all for me and just a wonderful playground!

Indian Ocean

Thonga beach lodge

  • Steve Gingold - 16/07/2014 - 09:08

    Sandy beaches need to be approached more as abstracts, I think. These certainly have lots of interest and function as both a landscape and an abstract.ReplyCancel

  • Steven Schwartzman - 16/07/2014 - 19:39

    I’ll agree with Steve that the abstract elements in these photographs make them stronger images.ReplyCancel


When we stayed at the Oribi gorge, we had the opportunity to visit an area on private farmland where Cape vultures (Gyps coprotheres) are breeding in the steep cliffs.

Cape vulture (Gyps coprotheres)
It was fantastic to watch so many of these majestic birds sailing just in front of us. The light was pretty harsh though and I have deleted most of the photos but kept a few decent ones.


I had known in advance that our stay at Leopard Mountain Lodge in the heart of the Zululand Rhino Reserve would be more about wildlife photography than landscapes. However, my heart was bleeding when we passed the most beautiful landscapes during the game drives early in the morning. But I don’t complain, we had a wonderful guide, Ryan, who gave his absolute best to fit in some landscape opportunities for me. Without his fantastic help, I’d have come back with no landscape shot at all from Zululand!
This particular morning, Ryan drove up a hill just in time to watch the sunrise over the plain. It was a beautiful and colourful sunrise but I struggled a bit with the composition as you can clearly see. I had to work from this one and only spot and it was not possible to move a bit closer and lower to the tree nor was I able to place the sun in a more out-of-the-middle position. The area is known for leopards and safety first – full stop! So I tried to make the best of this sunrise and I honestly was very happy – thanks Ryan!! I hope you like it!

Zululand sunrise
  • Hilde Van den Bosch - 18/07/2014 - 18:35



It has already been three weeks since we are back from South Afria and we have spent a few after-work evenings on our local meadow looking for insects and butterflies. I can’t really say that spiders belong to my favourite animals but these little Oak spiders (Aculepeira ceropegia) were posing so nicely that I simply could not resist. They are still small and will grow a bit until August but this size is really enough for me:P

Eichblatt-Kreuzspinne (Aculepeira ceropegia)
Oak spider (Aculepeira ceropegia)
  • Andrew Hardacre - 09/07/2014 - 07:05

    What is not to like about something as cute as this?ReplyCancel


The Southern Boubou (Laniarius ferrugineus), which belongs to the family of bushshrikes, was another beautiful bird that joined our bird photo parade in the Royal Natal national park. He was an adorable little bird, a true poser:)

 Flötenwürger (Laniarius ferrugineus)

 Southern Boubou (Laniarius ferrugineus)
  • Louis Foulon - 07/07/2014 - 09:52

    Beautiful pictures!

    gr LouisReplyCancel

  • Steve Gingold - 07/07/2014 - 15:22

    I especially like the personality in the first shot, Sandra. ReplyCancel


We came across this handsome elephant bull on our last morning game drive at Leopard Mountain Lodge. He was in musth which is a hormone-related, periodic behavior change that only happen to elephant bulls. It usually lasts a couple of weeks and it can be noticed by the liquid that is running down the cheeks from the temporal glands next to the eyes (you can see this on the first photo). Elephant bulls are very aggressive in this phase and we kept our distance so that he won’t feel disturbed.

We had a long 500mm lens with us as well as a 70-300mm zoom which led to two different visions of this magnificent elephant. Gerd used the longer focal length to create a rather nice half portrait while I tried to capture the whole strength and beauty. We both returned to the lodge pretty happy!

African elephant

African elephant
  • Steve Gingold - 04/07/2014 - 15:54

    Both are very good, Sandra and Gerd, and great additions to your portfolio. Too bad about keeping your distance or you could have had a third with your Samyang. :O I have to admit, this shot would have been hard to achieve by staying near home. :-) ReplyCancel


I must admit that I’m truly mad about trees back here at home and I just love photographing trees against a nice background. South Africa with its lovely Acacia trees is therefore just a dream for me and my eyes are always on the hunt for good-looking trees.

The second morning at Oribi gorge proved to be a real challenge as I had the georgeous look over the gorge on the one side and this tree against a dramatic, colourful sky on the other side! Well, in the end I managed both compositions and was running around like a mad rabbit:)But it was worth all the hectic so early in the morning – and even before the first cup of coffee!!

  • Louis Foulon - 02/07/2014 - 05:22

    Beautiful picture…….ReplyCancel

  • Mitya Kolomiyets - 02/07/2014 - 07:25

    Very nice!ReplyCancel

  • Steve Gingold - 02/07/2014 - 10:17

    Very nice, Sandra. You must have been very excited as this developed.ReplyCancel


I almost forgot about this photo of a Banded Demoiselle after our holiday although I was so happy about it! But now it is time to show it. It seems that I’m just too blind to notice dragonflies as I hardly ever find one although there should be plenty around the Rhine wetlands.

So I was delighted when I spotted this male Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens) right next to the path early May. It took me about 100 frames to achieve one photo with an almost perfect focus plane. But it was worth all the pain – I’m really happy with it!

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens)
  • Steve Gingold - 30/06/2014 - 22:56

    Your Calopteryx splendens is splendid. :-) A very lovely image and a fine specimen.ReplyCancel

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