[D+98] – “Chez Tonton Mack” – Part 4 : Some HDR Shots

[read part 1 here] [read part 2 here] [read part 3 here]

A fourth and last post about this marvellous week-end. I decided to compile in this last message a few photos I took and edited using the so-called HDR (High Dynamic Range) technique.

Basically, it consists in taking three similar photographs : a dark one, a normal one and a light one, and combining them on a software (for instance I am using Adobe Photoshop). It allows the creation of highly-satured, almost surrealistic and dynamically enhanced pictures.

Here are my attempts at this technique, which I am usually using for UrbEx stuffs.

Categories: Landscapes, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

[D+98] – “Chez Tonton Mack” – Part 3 : Dawn and Return

[read part 1 here] [read part 2 here]

I woke up very early (at  5:00am), partly because of storm lights outside. As I was afraid there could be spiders, I decided to get outside and shoot some sparks pictures, but there were a lot of clouds and due to the very low light my photographs turned out to be either a bit blurred or not interesting. Obviously I had not properly set the focus, and I feel a bit disappointed about this.

6:20 am
18mm - 1/6 - F/9 - ISO-400

I suddenly got the idea to make a quick fieldrecording, and walked a bit towards the woods in order to share with you the ambiance over there with an audio sample :

We were willing to swim again in the sea, but it started raining a lot around 9am, while we were eating the breakfast, so we started considering returning to Pointe-Noire earlier than expected. Indeed, we had already crossed big puddles on the road and we knew these puddles would have increased in size if the rain was not to stop (which eventually happened).

18mm - 1/50 - F/6.3 - ISO 400

Unfortunately there was not much things to do under this rain, so we stayed sheltered in the main grass hut, and I took a few other pictures I thought I would share with you (including the bed I slept on) :

18mm - 1/15 - F/5.6 - ISO 400

79mm - 1/100 - F/7.1 - ISO 400

214mm - 1/50 - F/5.6 - ISO 200

We eventually left around midday, because the rain was heavy and we were slightly afraid of the state of the track on the way back. Before leaving we ate a sea bass brought to us by one of the fishermen leaving here : how tasty it was !

As we were driving away from “Tonton Mack”, the rain stopped and I took a few new photographs from the magnificent landscape.

20mm - 1/800 - F/7.1 - ISO 400

146mm - 1/500 - F/7.1 - ISO 400

As I said, the puddles we had already seen had now become almost ponds. The 4×4 pickups sometimes had some difficulties to cross some of them, and at some point the water reached the level of the front headlights, which frightened us a bit.

When I thought I should take a picture of these deep puddles, the rain had started again so I only rapidly shot a photograph out of the window, so the focus is not perfect, but I feel forced to illustrate what I am talking about :

65mm - 1/80 - F/7.1 - ISO 400

220 photos later, we were back home and safe.

But this article series is not finished !! 

Tomorrow I will post a set of 5 HDR pictures, which correspond to my best attempt at the bracketing technique so far !

Oh, and now a little “guess what it is?” game…

Do you have any idea ? Just post it as a comment to this post !!

[read part 4 here]

Guess what it is...
250mm - 1/100 - F/6.3 - ISO 400

Categories: Landscapes, Nature | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

[D+97] – “Chez Tonton Mack” – Part 2 : Beach and Fire

[read part 1 here]

This place was really marvelous. I felt something I believe I had never felt that much strongly. Being almost alone and contemplating the exotic landscapes and seascape that Nature was offering us was mesmerizing, as if I was living ten thousand years ago. As if I was the first one to set foot on this part of the world. A sort of rustic yet almost initiatory, energy-filled context.

84mm - 1/800 - F/5.6 - ISO 200

116mm - 1/640 - F/7.1 - ISO 200

I know my pictures do not totally reveal it, but the seashore was surrounded by luxurious vegetation, alternating with a savanna-like environment. I don’t have decent pictures to show of this, but there were a few ponds with water-lily around our camp. We could also hear crickets noises in the tall grass nearby, as well as many birds tweeting.

84mm - 1/500 - F/7.1 - ISO 200

90mm - 1/500 - F/6.3 - ISO 200

135mm - 1/1000 - F/5.6 - ISO 200

After a good lunch in the shade of a sort of large grass hut under which had been put some tables, we eventually went to the sea and stayed there for almost the whole afternoon, playing in the big waves (once again my photographs do not exactly do justice to their size) as if we were still children.

Ousmane, Rémy and Rémi (yeah, two of them)
18mm - 1/250 - F/6.3 - ISO 200

Rémi, Marine and Julien
24mm - 1/1250 - F/6.3 - ISO 200

41mm - 1/2000 - F/6.3 - ISO 200

There was a lot of driftwood on the beach…

250mm - 1/1000 - F/8 - ISO 200

24mm - 1/1250 - F/6.3 - ISO 200

55mm - 1/640 - F/7.1 - ISO 200

…but also lots of crabs which were moving incredibly fast as we approached them. Hard to catch !!

250mm - 1/3200 - F/5.6 - ISO 200

250mm - 1/1600 - F/5.6 - ISO 200

55mm - 1/1000 - F/7.1 - ISO 200

Look at how great the landscape was ! Marvelous !

18mm - 1/800 - F/9 - ISO 200

18mm - 1/1000 - F/8 - ISO 200

As sun the was decreasing, we went back to the camp. Cocktail hour. On the picture below you can spot two Congolese beers : Mutzig (green bottles) and Turbo King (brown bottles). One day I’ll tell you more about them.

Pierrick and Julien talking about politics
32mm - 1/100 - F/5.6 - ISO 400

We went to the top of a nearby hill to watch the sunset, but unfortunately there were some clouds near the horizon line, so I couldn’t shoot the magma-like ball I was expecting.

29mm - 1/60 - F/6.3 - ISO 400

We had gathered some dry wood, and spent the night around a joyful fire (mostly mastered by Ousmane, thanks man!), eating chicken and potatoes. How great this was ! The ambiance was friendly and I assume we all spent a great moment talking on the beach like this.

27mm - 4" - F/8 - ISO 200

During the night, I recorded the sounds coming from one of the ponds I mentioned earlier. If anyone knows what kind of animal produces the melodic/rhythmic sound you can hear in the sample, I’m interested to know more about it…

Getting asleep was a bit hard for me because I was afraid there could be spiders, but luckily I did not see any of them !

Time for me to end this article… You’ll have to wait another day before reading part 3 !! Do share your feelings about these pictures : would you like to be here ? Do you think we forgot something ? Anything you wanna know ? Just post a comment below and I’ll answer you !

[read part 3 here]

Categories: Landscapes, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

[D+97] – “Chez Tonton Mack” – Part 1 : On the road

After a good bunch of days without any news, I am finally able to provide you with some fresh new pictures. A LOT of new pictures.

This weekend was my first real trip on the countryside. I mean, far from the big town of Pointe-Noire. “The plan” was to sleep at a place called Chez Tonton Mack, which corresponds to a few small huts. The price is pretty cheap : 5000 XAF per night (7.5€ / $10), and spend the week-end over there.

We had prepared some food, with the idea of making a fire on the beach for the night.

We left home around 7am : 5 trainees, the girlfriend of one of them and 3 friends of Remy, with whom he had met in a party. Two 4×4 pickups.

Here we go.

We stopped for the first time just after the bridge that crosses the Kouilou river, in order to taste some Yanga, which happens to be a sort of palm tree wine. Probably not the best drink ever, but a cool experience anyhow. Ten minutes ago we we were back on the road, until Madingo Kayes, were the asphalt road ended. We had travelled half the way in terms of length, but only one quarter of the way in terms of time. Indeed, driving on a sandy track with large and deep puddles (almost ponds sometimes) accross the road is not always as easy as one may think.

Rémy, who was driving me
24mm - 1/3200 - F/5.6 - ISO 400

Ousmane and Pierrick
20mm - 1/800 - F/5.6 - ISO 200

20mm - 1/200 - F/5.6 - ISO 400

20mm - 1/500 - F/5.6 - ISO 200

187mm - 1/1000 - F/5.6 - ISO 200

250mm - 1/1000 - F/5.6 - ISO 200

55mm - 1/2000 - F/5.6 - ISO 200

We eventually reached the entrance of the Conkouati natural park, where we got stopped by some guards. Supposedly, we should have paid 5000 XAF per person, but after 45 minutes of useless discussions we eventually paid 5000 XAF per vehicle, and felt pretty relieved, since we weren’t aware of that fee.

Unfortunately, we did not have the opportunity to see a lot of exotic fauna (I mean, elephants or antelopes), but we caught the sight of a jackal and of a few birds…

250mm - 1/2000 - F/5.6 - ISO 400

250mm - 1/2500 - F/5.6 - ISO 400

116mm - 1/1000 - F/7.1 - ISO 400

After a rather long travel, with a lot of laugh but under a hot equatorial sun, we eventually reached our goal around midday. I have to say we were astonished by the place, and immediately felt we were about to spend a particularly great weekend.

It is getting late, so you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to read the rest of the story… Don’t hesitate to share your point of view regarding the pictures above !!

[read part 2 here]

146mm - 1/1600 - F/7.1 - ISO 400

Categories: Landscapes, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

[D+42] – A Walk near Diosso

(The lightning conditions weren’t very good for photographs, so some of them lack a bit of contrast)

About two weeks have passed since the last gallery, but we haven’t been doing much interesting things until yesterday. Indeed, a walk was organized on Saturday near the town of Diosso, not so far from Pointe-Noire, the city where we dwell.

Nevermind how early it was, we all met at 7:00am next to an area dedicated to sport and curated by the firm in which we work. Actually we could have come one hour later…

Then we were brought by a small bus to the starting point of the walk, after passing through some traffic jams (yeah, it does exist here, because the roads are rather uneven and vehicles have to slow down) and a tollbooth (please don’t ask the self-explanatory question “Why is there a toll system when roads are uneven?”). The Walk was about to begin…

Huh ?

I believe that pictures are often better than words, so I will try to gather them into same-themed photographs. Obviously there were many trees, from various types but don’t know all of their names. There were loads of palm trees, but we also found a rather small baobab. Even if it’s not really obvious in most of the pictures below, the area had ‘recently’ undergone deforestation, so there weren’t that many trees left, and also most of the remaining trunks were aligned, which means that it had been an area exploited for wood (which is a rather important business here in Congo).

Sometimes, at the foot of the track on which we were walking, we caught the magnificent sight of some more luxurious jungle-like forests, but we couldn’t reach them, which (I hope) will be solved soon during a new walk or something.

The whole walk was done on a sandy track, and even if the landscape was particularly exotic we almost saw no animals, except insects such as ants or butterflies. I guess that if we had entered the jungle it would have been spiders and snakes. Who knows.

The end is near…

…and we eventually reached the end, after a 12-kilometers long walk. The whole even was pretty cool. A Congolese guy had accompanied us most of the time and showed us some cool details, which was very nice of him. Also, since it wasn’t a run, we did have the time to take photos of many things and visually appreciate the landscapes.

Categories: Nature | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Just a few birds

Categories: Just a picture, Nature | Tags: , | 1 Comment

[D+21] – A Mangrove

Wow! I just came back from a little excursion in a not-so-far mangrove (basically a seaside swamp), and it was pretty great ! There were hundreds of birds in the trees (like the white one below), and a lot of crabs as well as fishes with modified fins, which allowed them to get out of the water.

I maybe should have taken more shots, and maybe some general shots to give you a better overview of how the whole thing looks like. I apologize for that, but I promise I’ll try to remember this next time…

Some dead birds, too… but after all it’s Mother Nature !

A picture of Remy, who comes from the same school than me :

And finally a picture that doesn’t exactly satisfy me, but I think it’s still cool :

Categories: Nature | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Blog at