About Rich Laburn

Rich Laburn

Rich Laburn is filmmaker, photographer and writer who is based at Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa. Spending his time capturing scenes of the wild and communicating the beauty of the African bushveld, he runs the Londolozi Blog as a way to entertain and engage people wishing to visit these wild lands.


Latest Posts by Rich Laburn

Surreal Reflections Show the Power of Wildlife Photography

September 18, 2014 by  

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“Shapes distorted, dissected by the wind only to be reassembled into abstract designs, a beautiful illusionary canvas, ever moving.” ­– Christine Matthai.

As in any form of art, the artist is always looking for a new creative twist, something that will bring a new dimension to their piece. In photography it is no different. Reflective photography for me gifts a photographer with so many new possibilities.

rhino reflection Trevor

Rhino Reflection, an example of a photograph of a rhino reflected in the water creates an interesting perspective. Photograph by: Trevor McCall-Peat

Capturing a reflective image in itself provides a challenge as there are numerous elements that need to come together to capture that perfect moment, especially in wildlife photography as your subjects have a mind of their own and getting them to the right place at the right time is often no easy task. But reflection for me offers us so much more than just a challenge. It allows our mind to wonder and to see an image in a unique way, adding depth and interest.

Reflections are just one way of the ever changing shapes that so beautifully epitomises this incredible place in which we live, always transforming, never the same and so apparent now as winter ends and summer springs to life.

To photograph reflections is always high up on my list but as I have mentioned, it is definitely no easy task. I have put together a collection of some of my favourites as well as some taken by fellow guides and good friends…

Camp Pan mike

The Camp Pan male captured here in black and white and reflected in the water. Photograph by: Mike Sutherland.

cheetah andrea

The blood stained mouth of a cheetah is  reflected in the water making the image a lot more interesting. Photograph by Andrea Campbell.

hamerkop Trevor

A hamerkop wades through the water. Photograph by: Trevor McCall-Peat

Hyena Mike

Submerged in the water, a hyena cools off and slakes its thirst. Photograph by Mike Sutherland.

male lion andrea

Male Lion. Photograph by Andrea Campbell.

sand piper Trevor

Double take: a sand piper seen from two angles. Photograph: Trevor McCall-Peat

Tree Andrea

A striking and unusual image of a tree. Photograph by Andrea Campbell.

Tsalala cub Mike

The Tsalala cub inspects its reflection. Photograph by Mike Sutherland.

tsalala cub Trevor

Mirror Image. The Tsalala cub quenches its thirst. Photograph by Trevor McCall-Peat.

Tsalala lioness Mike

The Tsalala lioness strides through muddy waters. Photograph by Mike Sutherland.

Zebra Andrea

Reflections of black and white. Photograph by Andrea Campbell.

Zebra Mike

Zebra Double. Photograph by Mike Sutherland.

Tsalala cub Andrea

This image of a Tsalala cub is made more interesting by the reflection of the tree in the water. Photograph by: Andrea Campbell.

Reflection

Drinking shots are always a good idea for trying to capture the reflection of the subject you are shooting. Photograph by Simon Smit.

croc shadow

Night-time reflections. Photograph byTrevor McCall-Peat.

Reflection-2

Another interesting double is created in this image. Photograph by Simon Smit.

Written by: Trevor McCall-Peat

Photography: Trevor McCall-Peat, Andrea Campbell, Mike Sutherland, Simon Smit.

South Africa: The Best of the Bush in Late August

August 30, 2014 by  

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The first heat has hit and the knobthorns are flowering and the first Wahlberg’s eagles have been sighted, a sure sign that winter is coming to an end. Although I am excited to once again be driving through verdant green hillsides and have all the migrant bird species back, I can’t say I won’t miss winter. The chill of the early mornings and the mist hanging low in the valleys are two of my favourite things about the bush.

CheetahSunset2

It’s not over yet though, and there is still a nip in the air in the mornings. The wildlife in South Africa continues to impress, so while we await the first rains in a month or two, enjoy this photo journey.

Cheetah

The male cheetah surveys his domain. Will he and the female mate again and have more cubs? We are hopeful, as both have been spending time in similar areas.

EllieCross

An elephant bull snatches a quick drink as he crosses the Sand River to rejoin his herd.

HoodedVulture

This hooded vulture had landed to investigate the scene of a Sparta Pride kill. Finding nothing left, he didn’t mind when one of the Majingilane moved in and forced him into the air again.

HyenaCub

The second youngest hyena at the newest den site gets bullied by some of the older cubs while its mother lies nonchalantly by.

Hyena

Getting a nasty nip one too many times, it sought solace next to her.

Frog

An amazing little frog. Unfortunately its eyes are slightly out of focus, owing to the shallow depth of field I had on the Macro lens

Makhotini

The Makhotini male was found in the deep south recently. He hasn’t been seen for awhile in these parts, and reports from the south of the reserve, as well as a big cut on his lip and nose, tell of a territorial confrontation with another big male leopard not so long ago.

Calf_Trip

Although it might seem insensitive, this little elephant calf provided us with great amusement when it mock charged us on the banks of the Maxabene River, displaying as much bravado as it could muster, but when it descended onto the sand to follow its mother, it tripped immediately and fell headfirst. Here it flails about while trying to get back to its feet

Tutlwa_Gowrie

The Tutlwa female stands over the Gowrie male. She has been mating with him recently, deep in the territory of the Nanga female.

CubTongue

The Nanga female and one of her cubs. Our worst fears could be realised, as we believe one of the cubs may have been killed by the Tutlwa female.

Cheetah, vantage point, sunset. A winning photographic combination.

CheetahSunset

He looks west towards the Drakensberg and the setting sun, probably looking to settle down for the night.

Dust

The rains will be here in a month or two, and mud-baths will be the order of the day instead of dustbaths for the elephants.

marthly-2

The Marthly male winds his lonely way through his territory. How long can he hold out against the continuous pressure from the Gowrie male?

tamboti+Cub2-2

These are from a few months ago, as you can probably tell from the green grass, but I was looking at them today and wondering how long it will be before we see the Tamboti female giving birth again? Here she lies with her recently independent youngster in the foreground.

tamboti+Cub2-3

Same setting, different focus. The cub looks back (notice the swollen tick above her eye) while the mother snoozes.

Photographed by James Tyrrell

10 Great Quotes in Honor of Nelson Mandela Day

July 19, 2014 by  

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In celebration of Mandela Day on July 18,  here are ten great Mandela quotes. Some of the quotes you will have seen before, but some are less well known. On Africa and Home “I believe that South Africa is the most beautiful place on earth. Admittedly, I am biased but when you combine the natural beauty of sunny South Africa with the friendliness and cultural diversity of our people, and the fact that the region is a haven for Africa’s most splendid wildlife, then I think that we have been blessed with a truly wonderful land.”

Winter is (5 of 21) “We are a winning nation! We acknowledge our problems and challenges and then proceed to tackle them with determination and in a spirit of optimism. We have overcome much in order to be where we are.” “African music is something that goes straight to your heart and it tells the story of your own life, your living conditions, your aspirations.” yy   On Education and the Next Generation “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” “Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future. Those who abuse them tear at the fabric of our society and weaken our nation.” “Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that generation. Let your greatness blossom.” On Communicating … Effectively “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” “In human affairs, no single person, organisation or social formation ever has a final or an absolutely correct position. It is through conversation, debate and critical discussion that we approach positions that may provide workable solutions.” “The relative success that we have achieved in Southern Africa vindicates our belief that conflicts can and must be resolved peacefully through dialogue.” On Morality and the Human Spirit “As we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people the permission to do the same.” “There can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to help others without expecting anything in return.” Many of the quotes above were taken from Nelson Mandela: Conversations with Myself and Nelson Mandela By Himself. We would love for you to add to our list. What is your favourite Nelson Mandela quote and why?

The African Stork: From Birds to Hartenberg Wine

July 5, 2014 by  

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Storks are large, long-necked, long-legged birds which wade with long, stout bills. They have no syrinx (vocal organ) and are therefore mute, giving no call, and instead communicate by clattering their bills. Many species are migratory and most storks eat fish, insects, frogs, earthworms and even small birds and mammals. They are heavy birds (weighing up to eight kilograms) with wide wingspans – the Marabou stork has a wingspan of 3.2 meters!  They make large nests that may be used for many years; some nests have been known to be in excess of two meters in diameter and three meters in depth.

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The Marabou Stork in all its glory. Photographed by James Hobson

The Saddle-billed Stork.  Photographed by Adam Bannister

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A white stork. Photographed by James Hobson.

These long-legged birds tend to fly by soaring and gliding, a method which conserves energy and it is this mode of flight which takes me back to how the Hartenberg Stork Shiraz got its name.

Black_Stork

The Black Stork . Photographed by James Tyrrell.

Yellow-billed-stork-reflection

Yellow-billed Stork. Photographed by Talley Smith.

The History of the Stork

Hartenberg is based in Stellenbosch and has a long history. The farm was first settled on by Cunraad Boin and Christoffel Esterhuizzen who were granted permission to work 60 morgen (20 hectares) of the land in 1692.  The first thing the two friends did was clear the land to plant 2,000 vines.  In 1704, Christoffel Esterhuizzen was granted the title deed to “Het Hartenberg” by Governer Willem Adriaan van der Stel and became the first official owner of the farm. By 1718 he had planted 10,000 vines on the property.

Hartenberg

The Hartenberg Vineyards situated in Stellenbosch

Over the next 250 plus years the farm changed hands numerous times and was owned by the likes of Paul Keyser, a well-known elephant hunter; Jacob van Bochen who also purchased Weltevrede adjoining Hartenberg and the two farms have remained combined, forming Hartenberg as it is today; Arrie Lekkerwyn (Lekkerwyn is Afrikaans for nice wine) and Aaron van Ceylon (a freed slave); Jacobus and Johannes Bosman who sold it to the Hampf family. Mr Hampf became the first officially recorded winemaker on the estate. In 1948 Hartenberg was bought by Dr Maurice Finlayson and his wife, Eleanor. They produced two sons, Peter and Walter, who are now renowned South African winemakers in their own right.

The Next Generation

In 1987 the farm was purchased by Ken Mackenzie, and his daughters today continue a program of investment in the farm, focusing on replanting specific sites to premium varietals, development of production facilities and upliftment through knowledge and skills development for their employees.

It is after Ken Mackenzie that the Hartenberg Stork was named. Ken was a tall and lanky chap with long thin legs. He served as a Spitfire pilot in World War Two where he quickly earned the nickname “Stork”.  In honour of him, Hartenberg named their flagship wine made from 100% Shiraz grapes, which was one of Ken’s favourite varietals.

White-stork

The White Stork. Photographed by Talley Smith.

Tasting the Stork

Hartenberg also has the largest privately owned underground cellar in South Africa. It was commissioned in the late 1980’s and acts as a gallery to twelve artworks by German coppersmith, Karl Heinz Wilhelm. The artworks took two years to complete and describe each of the twelve phases of cultivating and producing wine.

Hartenberg's underground cellar

Hartenberg’s underground cellar

When you next find yourself looking at a stork, try a glass or two of the Hartenberg Stork. The wine is great when paired with a slow cooked lamb, and is best enjoyed in the boma around the glowing flames of a fire.

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Black & White and Working in Monochrome for Travel Photography

July 3, 2014 by  

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My love for black and white photography is strongly rooted in my love for street photography, which is what lead me to begin using the 35 mm lens a few years ago. Since the days of analogue (film) photography, street photographers have presented their work in black and white and some of the greatest and most iconic images ever taken have been shot in black and white.

Here are just a few reasons why I personally love working in monochrome:

  • There’s a common expression of ‘ give it to me in black and white’ and I believe that goes straight to the point. What you get is the pure essence of what the artist’s intent was. It’s not disguised by colours, it’s direct.
  • The beauty of black and white photography is that it requires photographers to re-think how they view a scene, it teaches one to consider their composition. Instead of relying on colour in an image you are moved to making sure your composition/subject is what makes your image interesting to the viewer.
  • Simplify: a busy scene can be simplified by changing your image to black and white. I often find that within a busy scene I am able to find a strong black and white image, which I wouldn’t have necessarily achieved in colour.
  • Shape: It teaches you to use interesting shape, lines or textures within your images.

When it comes to taking these tips and applying them to wildlife photography remember that it is all about seeing tones, light and shadows within your image. It is a beautiful way to capture the natural world uniquely. Give it a go!

A behind-the-scenes look at people captured in black and white is awe-inspiring:

Sky Walk

35mm 1varty walk way

Under enchanting treetops.

A Stitch in Time

35mm 2 Mphume

Mphume learns new techniques.

Luminous

35mm 1

Afternoon light illuminates as Emma prepares lanterns for an evening function.

Attention to Detail

35mm cavin

Pioneer butler Cavin makes sure his wine glasses sparkle.

7fans

Children enjoy the Mshongolo during practice for their upcoming performances.

6guess which camp ?

Family discussions 

family discussions

Written and Photographed by: Caitlin Fay Smith.

What aspect of black and white photography do you enjoy the most?

South African Dancers and Singers, Magic for the Soul

June 23, 2014 by  

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For those of you have visited South Africa, you know that the music, dancers and the singers, are as much of the experience as the nature and wildlife is regardless of what time of year you’re visiting the area. Have a look at the warmth and energy you can experience.

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A leader, a warrior and protector.

A leader, a warrior and protector.

Entertaining our guests in the boma during dinner.

Dinner.

A spirit of Africa, rich in culture and heritage.

A spirit of Africa, rich in culture and heritage.

yy

One of thousands of stories told around the fire over the years. 

The choir in full swing.

yy

The charm of the choir around the fire.

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A matriarch, Lina Lamula shows her talent.

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A rhythm felt by dancers and guests alike. Simon Smit

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A profile in the low light of the fire.

Photographed by: Mike Sutherland and Simon Smit. First photo of fire dance Simon Smit, Photos 2-5 photos: Mike Sutherland. Charm of the Choir and Matriarch photo: Mike Sutherland. Last shot/profile in the low light of the fire – Simon Smit.

These 12 Winter Sunsets in Africa Will Take Your Breath Away

June 21, 2014 by  

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If you’ve ever been to Africa, you know that sunsets can transform your life there. Sunsets are one of the most emotive and compelling aspects of Africa in general but also while on a safari in Africa.

Sunsetsimon

Two large trees have a halo of clouds as we move through the large open areas in the west of the reserve. Simon Smit

Imagine dust kicked up by the vast buffalo herds combined with smoke from wild fires is suspended in the heavy winter air. These seemingly insignificant molecules have the potential to transform the sky into an almost inconceivable array of  colour, shapes and patterns.   Each and everyday there is something new presented and it is for this reason that the breathtaking sunsets are one of my favourites aspects of winter.  Take a look at some of the spectacular sunsets we have been offered lately…

IMG_7584 Rich Laburn

Shapes cut out by mountains in the distance. Rich Laburn

Sunset in colour Adam Bannister

Colour sneaking through a ceiling of clouds. Adam Bannister

sunset Rich Laburn

An ancient leadwood silhouetted by a soft simple haze, front lit with a small flash. Rich Laburn

Shades and shapes enhanced by sparse clouds. Clouds with little threat of rain, little purpose other than one of decoration, character that only they  can add. Layer upon layer that hinder and harness rays of light, to capture and illuminate.

sunset-james-hobson

A fiery ceiling to end off the day. James Hobson

awesome sunset

Deep blues transforming into a beautiful burnt orange. Rich Laburn

Cloudy Sunset Rich Laburn

The sun breaks though for the last time before disappearing (taken by Rich Laburn)

Colours that develop and mature with the somewhat subdued sinking sun. Blues give way to a calm orange that soon turns to deep red as the horizon approaches.

Sunsetsimon-2

Rays enhanced by the sun diving behind the mountains. Simon Smit

Red Sky Rich Laburn

The age old golden lining. Rich Laburn

Intention circle 2011 sunset Simon Bannister

Some interesting texture as a backdrop for our intention circle. Simon Bannister

A single ray of light bursts through the bottom of the clouds before fading from the horizon. Photo by: Rich Laburn

A single ray of light bursts through the bottom of the clouds before fading from the horizon. Rich Laburn

Landscape Sunset Rich Laburn

A large Marula tree provides an interesting subject in the foreground of this sunset. Rich Laburn

Sunset by Rich Laburn

The lingering colour of dusk. Rich Laburn

The colours don’t stop after the sun disappears, they continue until the very last of the light.  The only constant is the speed at which the night takes its grip turning the colorful dusk into starry nights.

Written by: Simon Smit

Photographed by: Rich Laburn , Simon Smit, Simon Bannister, James Hobson, Adam Bannister

 

How Open Learning & Education is Transforming Africa

June 20, 2014 by  

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Here is a concept that is on the brink of changing the face of education in Southern Africa. There is a primary school in the semi-urban town of Shabalala, not far from the gates of the Sabi Sand Wildtuin. 1,400 students. 14 classrooms.

Some learning takes place outside in the schoolyard, but imagine up to 100 students per class and imagine one teacher in that one class.

This young learner attends a public school located 80 kilometres from Londolozi. She shares a class with approximately 39 other learners and - before this week - had never worked on an desktop or a tablet computer.

This young learner attends a public school located 80 kilometres from Londolozi. Before this week she had never worked on a desktop or a tablet computer.

Notwithstanding challenges such as the student-teacher ratio, there is also an urgent need to get these kids digitally literate. Rural educators feel that pressure. For the principle of the school, apart from budget, the problem is threefold:

  • With so little space, where do you put a computer lab?
  • How do you secure the computer lab?
  • How are you going to train your teachers to facilitate digital learning, when many of them are not digitally literate themselves?

Today, there is a solution.

Why can’t the principle of the school “outsource” digital literacy to a high-tech digital learning centre or “Hub” in his town? The Hub is full of the latest technology – tablets, apps, computers, educational software and digital screens.

An "Open Learning" model that can be exported across South Africa.

An “Open Learning” model that can be exported across South Africa. Good Work Foundation believes this model will change the face of education in rural spaces, and they’re already proving this supposition in the communities outside of Londolozi.

But it’s also full of digital facilitators. Adults from the community trained in self-organised learning environments. Trained in maximising learning using technology as a tool.

Teachers of the future implementing learning techniques pioneered at Stanford University.

It’s happening.

Good Work Foundation is in the eleventh month of an “Open Learning Academy” pilot designed to increase access to digital. The model proposes that each Hub can support five satellite schools, 50 teachers and 5000 students. Last week the fourth local school and the 1000th student “plugged” in to Good Work Foundation’s Hazyview Digital Learning Centre.

Hazyview Open Learning Academy Facilitator, Mary-Jane, demonstrates “touch screen” and one student just can’t wait to try.

These two learners from Siyamukela Primary School spent their first day at Hazyview Digital Learning Centre early in June. This was their first interaction with education-based games on a tablet computer.

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