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Mighty African Grizzly

Mighty African Grizzly
Photo Information
Copyright: Loot Eksteen (loot) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2006-10-20
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Canon EOS 350D, Sigma 170-500mm f/5-6.3 AF APO Ultra DG, Digital ISO 200, UV 86mm Kenko
Exposure: f/18.0, 1/40 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Travelogue: Kruger National Park - 2006
Theme(s): Wildlife of Africa, Mammals of Africa, Mammals of Southern Africa II, A study in Mammalogy (mammals) 1, 80-89 Points I, Tree Squirrels, Kruger National Park 2 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-09-07 2:34
Viewed: 9656
Favorites: 4 [view]
Points: 86
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Tree squirrel - Paraxerus cepapi
Also known as the "Smith's Bush Squirrel" or "Yellow-footed Squirrel".

I've obtained a new HDCP LCD monitor, a Samsung 22 inch wide SyncMaster 2232GW. Although it has brilliant colours and contrasts I am still not 100% sure about its settings. Hopefully you will find the resulting post processing at acceptable levels, but please be frank and advice me should you notice anything strange on your monitors. Thanks.

For this shot I have pushed the aperture to f/18 and therefore the result was a rather slow 1/40 second shutter speed. I used my Lenzz Rezzt bean bag with my long Sigma 170-500mm lens and I think the ensuing sharpness proves that one can use non image stabilising equipment at slow shutter speeds and still obtain acceptable outcomes.

This little squirrel was captured on the S62 road in the Kruger National Park, at the small loop situated on the northern banks of the Letaba River. From here the river continues to flow on to the Engelhard dam, located northeast of the Letaba camp.

This is one of those highly energetic and very active species that hardly ever sit still. So, in my impatient experience, it's not that easy to get a good stationary shot of one. They're forever up or down a tree trunk, pestering one another or just generally full of antics. Tree squirrels are also very alert and when alarmed they speedily make a dash for a hiding place. On a number of occasions I had the pleasure when one of them would come and for a moment stood upright next to my car. The abrupt impression it made or the immediate thought that jumped to mind was that it looked like some little "Mighty Mouse". Coupled with this the "Grizzled" (salt & pepper) coat colour and you will understand why I called it the "Mighty African Grizzly".

Taxonomic Classification

: Animalia (animals)
SUBPHYLUM: Vertebrata (fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, & mammals)
CLASS: Mammalia (mammals)
ORDER: Rodentia (rodents:- mice, rats, squirrels, chipmunks, gophers, porcupines, beavers, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, degus, chinchillas, prairie dogs and groundhogs)
FAMILY: Sciuridae (tree, ground & flying squirrels, chipmunks and marmots)
SUBFAMILY: Xerinae (African bush squirrels)

The grizzled coat colour varies throughout the region. In the western and arid parts of its range it is pale grey or yellowish grey, and in the eastern localities more brown or rusty grey. Head and legs are a rusty colour. Colouration on the chest varies from yellowish to buffy in the east, to white in the west. The Tree Squirrels' bellies are white, off-white or buffy, and eyes circled by white. These alert and ever busy creatures carry their long tails extended backwards.

Length: 35cm (including tail)
Weight: 100-260g

The southern limit of this rodent's distribution extends into the woodland savanna regions of South Africa's North Western, Northern and Mpumalanga Provinces, and from here eastwards to Swaziland and Mozambique. Also found in Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

Inhabits savanna woodlands, inclusive of a wide variety of woodland types, where the trunks and branches of trees offer plentiful holes for shelter. It favours trees with suitable holes for nesting, such as mopane. Failing the availability of nesting crevices in trees, they will sometimes use holes in the ground. However, home is normally a hollow tree upholstered with leaves and grass. Here the young are born and, like bird nestlings, remain until they are strong enough to brave the outside world.

Essentially arboreal animals, but spend a great deal of time on the ground, foraging for food. When disturbed, Tree Squirrels will always seek the refuge of trees. During the night, territorial family groups nest together in holes in trees. Offspring become sexually mature between six to nine months, at which stage they are forcibly evicted by the breeding pair. The males are mainly responsible for territorial defence, although females will also chase intruders when she cares for dependent pups. To promote group cohesion, a common scent is shared by mutual grooming, which is an important facet of the social fibre of this species.

They are diurnal. In common with other squirrel species they are also diligent in their grooming. Like purposeful nannies, a mother will hold her offspring down with her forelegs while grooming the little animal with licks, nibbles and her claws.

Primarily vegetarian (seeds, roots & grasses), but like most rodents will take insect prey (such as ants). Tree squirrels use their forefeet to manipulate food items when feeding. They scatter-hoard seeds next to tree trunks or grass tufts, thereby facilitating tree regeneration.

In southern latitudes they are seasonal breeders. Courtship and mating occurs during August. They give birth to one to three pups during October to November, after a gestation period of 56 days. Pups are weaned at six weeks and leave the nest to feed on its own at the age of only 19 days.

Conservation status
Listed as Least Concern (2004 - IUCN Red List) as this is a common species with a wide distribution, well represented in some large and well managed protected areas, and there are no major threats to the species. Source

Post Processing was done with Adobe Photoshop CS2.

haraprasan, pvs, robindb, SunToucher, ramthakur, Kathleen, zulfu, Scott, Juyona, soccer, gannu, uleko, Miss_Piggy, betsie, Dyker, saeedabbasi, Alex99, boreocypriensis, JoseMiguel, rcrick, Rehanna, mbasil, marhowie, JORAPAVI, Aaltjie, Tabib, pilonm, jusninasirun, hester, oscarromulus has marked this note useful
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To SunToucher: Colours & Contrastsloot 2 09-08 03:31
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • pvs Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1127 W: 254 N: 3161] (14464)
  • [2008-09-07 2:56]

Hi Loot,

The colors,contrasts looking very well on my computer screen,this is a nice and typical capture of this small rodent,I have seen them regularly in the trees of the campsites of the krugerpark,but did not manage to take a descent shot,or they were to quick for the photagrapher or the light was on the dark site,anyway yo managed very well and it must be a pleasure to see it on 22 inch,


  • Great 
  • iris Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 479 W: 60 N: 970] (3088)
  • [2008-09-07 3:10]

Hi Loot,
Congratulations on the new equipment.

And you have here a cute little one looking attentive and ready for action.They are one of my favourite animals and i can see them scampering along tree branches right outside my window.
I like the warm brown palette used in here and the shot is presented with good sharpness.

I have myself turned down my LCD monitor's brightness quite a bit, so i am guessing the dark tint that i see in your shot is due to my settings.

TFS & Cheers

Hi Loot,

Ek het 'n gekalibreerde 21" CRT en die foto lyk heel goed. Jy sal net moet kyk na die blou, rooi, geel en groen kleure ook. Jy kan nie dalk 'n "spyder" iewers kry om die skerm te kalibreer nie. Ek het een maar ek is bietjie ver.

Die outjie lyk heel op en wakker en goed skerp. Ek sukkel party keer met my Sigma dat die onderwerp nie ordentlik skerp is nie, veral op volle 500 mm maar dit is seker 'n bietjie bewerasie so in my oudag.



Hi Loot,
Congrats with the new screen. Now your next step is to get a callibration tool, this will help a lot to get correct colors and contrast. By the way, what's the contrast ratio of the new monitor? I have a 2000:1 and if yours is as high or higher, I can assure you that you will end up in many discussions about contrast and color. Maybe a little test. In Evelynns latest photo, I can see brownish/red colors in the rock formation. Evelynn, and I expect many more, cannot see color in that part at all.

Looking at this photo, I can say that the colors look good, I do however see some color noise in the shadded areas. Did you brighten these areas in CS2? Sharpness and exposure seem to be good. The overall photo is a lovely one and the expression of the squirle is wonderful.


P.S. My dad is doing great. He's busy with video and enjoying life to the max.

indeed very mighty! :) TFS Ori

Hi Loot!
Your new equipment looks good to me after seeing this cute Squirrel image you processed on it. I am very fond of these creatures we see in plenty here in India. They keep on scampering around in the park outside my house and I occasionally shoot them.
You have captured the little one in an dorable posture in this frame and given it a funny caption.
Thanks for sharing the picture and keep well.

Hi Loot.
That is an awesome shot. So Cute.
Great exposure, colour and sharpness with beautiful detail.


  • Great 
  • zulfu Gold Star Critiquer [C: 685 W: 0 N: 2] (43)
  • [2008-09-07 7:56]

Hello Loot, a lovely and perfect shot of this cute fellow.
TFS and regards,

  • Great 
  • Scott Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 225 W: 0 N: 356] (1752)
  • [2008-09-07 8:24]


Dit is leeker. Very sharp. Thanks for the note. I have a long Sigma as well 50-500, hard to hold still. Well done.


Hi Loot,
you captured this squirrel extremely sharp and detailed.
I like the natural brown colors.
TFS Tatjana

  • Great 
  • Juyona Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor [C: 2232 W: 10 N: 2971] (16891)
  • [2008-09-07 14:02]

Hola amigo,
preciso disparo,
selecto pov. y buen foco...
hermoso specimen,
saludos Loot.

Hallo Loot,

This is a fantastic picture. I was in the bush today at a resort near Brits, and I had one of these guys on my lap, feeding it Macadamian nuts.

Fantastic pose and composition, and the DOF is also very good. These guys are difficult to get in a good pose. This is one of your jewels Loot.


  • Great 
  • Janice Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3277 W: 148 N: 6163] (18832)
  • [2008-09-07 19:24]

Yes, I notice something strange on my monitor.
I think you've posted the wrong image - it doesn't look like a grizzly bear Loot!
What a darling he looks - I never expected squirrels to live in Africa. Very good focus - I love that lens!! Good catch - well done

Ai Loot - Wat a pose!! Ek hou van die manier wat die kleure in mekaar invloei in hierdie foto.


  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2008-09-08 0:24]

Hello Loot,
What a superb photo! Sharpness, warm colours and DOF are really perfect. Great pose of this cute animal. Outstanding composition. Congrats on your new screen.
Kind regards,

Hi Loot,
A nice capture of this beautiful African tree squirrel. Very well composed shot with sharp details. A nice eye contact and lovely light work. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-09-08 1:49]

The colours, contrast and brightness seem perfect on my screen.
This really is a superb capture, Loot.
The sharpness is incredible for 1/40.
Superb DOF at f/18, the BG is completely blurred even though you used a very small aperture!
Excellent composition.
Brilliant light.

Well done,


p.s I love the title too :-))


You did well to get one of these creatures to stand still for your camera! They are always on the move and not always accommodating to photo.

I like your composition with the subject looking to the emptier side of the frame. The sharpness and detail shown of the subject is excellent as it's super sharp. The Lighting, BG and DOF are also well done here.


  • Great 
  • gannu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 988 W: 4 N: 3277] (14761)
  • [2008-09-08 8:57]

Hello Loot, You have taken this out from the your archive. You are now taking out from the magic box and hope you have many more to come from. Excellent shot and well done. Ganesh

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2008-09-08 22:55]

Hello Loot,
Very cute capture of this little Squirrel in a nice pose and nicely framed by the thick branches. Excellent sharpness, beautiful light and colours that match the bark of the tree. A fine soft background too.
TFS and best wishes, Ulla

Hallo Loot
First of all it is a great capture in all aspects. Splendid image with great clearness and wonderful details. I give to you the well deserved smiley. Your model is loveable and cute, and definitely gorgeous. A definite oh and ah photo. Great close up of this "African grizzly" One of those archive images one don’t mind to see after such a long time after it actually have been photographed. Refreshes the memories once again of the actual trip. Congratulations on the image and the results of the new screen. Thank you very much for sharing.

Hi Loot,
This is the scariest grizzly I have seen! :)! What a cute capture of this sweet animal! I like this pose, composition, natural colors and details. It looks good on my screen but I'm not the best reference as I use a laptop. Yes, I'm still very archaic when it comes to monitors and most of my pictures are a little over saturated when I look at them on real calibrated screens. Yours definitively looks fine to me! Well done!

  • Great 
  • Dyker Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 136 W: 0 N: 57] (170)
  • [2008-09-10 1:19]

Hello Loot
I quite fancy this scary little Grizzly. It will cause me to stay clear of the bush. Looks like your new monitor is working fine as I see no problem on my cheap line 17" monitor. The focus is sharp and the composition is lovely creating all those triangles with the branches and the little squirrel somewhere in the midst of it all. Thanks for showing.

Hi dear Loot ,
As always nice shot from you.
Great details and excellent compo.
Thanks for sharing

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2008-09-10 10:07]

Hi Loot.
You are happy photographer. You could meet and reflect so wonderful scene. Even without charming animal scene would be amazing. However, all together they create a great composition. DOF (and aperture value) is fantastic and selected brilliantly. Sharpness and details of the tree branches and squirrel are ultimate. I like brownish colours palette. It is very nice and pleasant for look. Framing of the image is the best. Bravo. Once more tremendous work from you, my friend.

Damn thing looks scarrier than crap, I'll make sure I carry a pea shooter when I'm in Africa. Very nice shot Loot.
Paul :)

Hi Loot, a lovely and perfect capture of this cute tree squirel in a fine composition with great clarity my friend!
I loved its posture:)
Many thanks for sharing this beauty!
All the best!


Hi Loot,
I see you have a new toy!
It would be great to enjoy all the pictures on it, besides to work more easily on your own ones.
I like the fresh scene you present us, you caught the squirrel in a very candid pose and expression.
A very good composition with all the trunks and branches around.
Excellent picture and thanks for share it.
My best regards,

  • Great 
  • PaulH Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1137 W: 26 N: 3879] (13882)
  • [2008-09-11 4:09]

Hi Loot,
hope all is well with you down there in your wonderful country. Firstly, the PP looks fine to me. Good light levels, fine detail and natural looking colours. Your compositon and timing though, are what make the shot a great one, as it's perfectly framed with this little fella staring into just the right amount of space. I notice that you have the same Sigma 170-500 as me, achieving excellent sharpness WITHOUT image stabiliser. It must have been bright though, as mine doesn;t seem to produce results unsless there's ample sunlight. Impressive work as always, great notes too.

Hi Loot,

Wonderful shot of this "Mighty African Grizzly" :) such a ferocious looking creature, joking aside the detail and clarity shooting at 1/40 is very impressive, beautiful lighting, excellent composition, tfs

Cheers Rick :)

Hello Loot
Ek wil ook een hê asseblief. Dit is so jammer dat mens nie hierdie goedjies hier in ons deel van die wêreld kry nie. Hulle is tog so pragtig. Ek het al gesoek na hulle in die Mkuzi wildtuin totdat ek uitgevind het hulle kom net noordoostelike dele van die land voor, naamlik in die Kruger wildtuin. Jou foto is baie komplimentered vanweë al die kleure wat so mooi saam smelt en by mekaar pas. Vir ’n diertjie wat ook nie veel stil sit nie het jy egter ’n mooi skerp foto gekry. Nogmaals puik werk. Rehanna.

Beautiful squirrel, Loot. Great details on this guy (visual and in your description). An interesting composition in the triangle of branches -- of course you were mainly shooting the squirrel, but it works well.

Hi Loot,
Really like the pose of this cute little guy, a great POV.
I like the comp & natural framing of your subject, nice.
Very good color, detail/DOF, and a well managed exposure..
Well done!

Who needs grizzlies when you have cuties like this! This is a real AWWWW photo, perfect pose and sharpness. They are normally quite busy and I am surprised that you got it this sharp at only a 40th! I think it's high time that you upgraded to the 450, just don't tell me about it, I will be too jealous as I only have the 400!

Hola Loot,
Magnífica captura en la que parece colaborar con la pose, excelente nitidez con que se muestran los detalles, muy buena iluminación con unos colores naturales, interesante y completa nota, saludos
José Ramón

My dearest Loot
A boer behind the camera and a mighty grizzly in the Kruger National park. Well now I never thought I’ll see that in my day and time. This photo deserves a smiley not just because of its cuteness factor, but of its perfectness factor. Just like a character out of a fairy or animation movie. It even made me think about the film “Stuart Little” I watched with my granddaughter, but Stuart Little wasn’t a squirrel he was a mouse. Thanks for the very informative notes. We really enjoyed it. So by the way I see Miss_Piggy made mention in 2 of her critiques that you guys are on the move to Kruger again. Do you think it is fear to make me and many others so jealous?
Warmest regards
Aaltjie and Hettie.

  • Great 
  • foozi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2791 W: 0 N: 6696] (25839)
  • [2008-09-22 3:59]

Hello Loot,
beautiful catch of the creature.
Similar colours , the squirell and the branches. well composed in its surrounding.
Texture and clarity is well seen.
Great sharpness and lovely eyes and whiskers.


  • Great 
  • pilonm Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 588 W: 90 N: 975] (3321)
  • [2008-09-23 12:19]

Hello Loot,

Brrrrr... Your grizzlies looks so fiercly!!! Ours in Canada should stay very quiet in front of yours!!!

Very nice picture, Loot with a very good composition. We can see how easy it is for him to use camouflage within those trees. You managed excellently the exposition with this very nice squirrel letting us see all the subtil difference in brown tones.

Great work and TFS!


Oct 13, 2008

Loot Eksteen, Hi.
I am using the 19inch model with the same make and I am enjoying the contrast ratio by the LCD. By looking at this image, the monitor must have been well calibrated with colors so natural and the light catching on the back making the whole frame alive. I like the tact sharp focus with perfectly metered depth. 1/40s is a slow shutter for an optic this long and I am amazed by the sharpness displayed here. The bean bag must have done the job pretty well. I like it and have a wonderful week ahead. Warmest regards. Jusni

  • Great 
  • hester Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1515 W: 18 N: 3165] (11638)
  • [2008-10-20 12:09]

Hi Loot

I always like to see shots of small mammals and this one is displaying such an alert and curious pose. The colours look fine to me and the details are pin sharp. I love the light catching the fur



Such a beauty!
Especially the pose and POV are brilliant.
He looks very alert.

Beautiful squirrel, Loot. Great details on this guy (visual and in your description).

Great notes!!!
Loved the way you marked a + on the location of the register on the map.
I've noted that this African species & ours in Canada are quite similar, even colourwise. Shall post our squirrels soon; perhaps next week...???
These fellows are very active, indeed; so, I wondered how you had the time to even use the bean bag to weigh down your equipment for this frame? Am so very happy you did... 'cause it turned out to be OUTSTANDING in detail, showing the mushroomy dried lichens too on the branches to the right & left of your lovely subject.
Regards to you & your family. Hope you enjoyed your well deserved holiday.
Mario from Calgary.

Calibration Check