Laura Bute Photography
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The Outer Mountain Loop: Can you hack it?

Backpacking Big Bend’s famed Outer Mountain Loop. Is it as difficult as they say?

Caddo Lake

There is a place of magic and mystery that straddles the Northern East Texas and Louisiana border. It’s a lake, of sorts, though once you’ve reached its depths it is more akin to a swampland where it’s difficult to tell where the lake ends and the wetlands begin. Cyprus trees grow tall throughout with knees that poke up through the water looking for a breath of fresh air.

A week without TV

So during the week of Halloween, me and the hubby decided to give up TV. Not even really for a full week, just the work week mostly. It’s not that I’m against TV or anything, I’m as big of a TV junkie as anyone and after all, I had everything I might miss DVR’d. The hubs and I are like most people I assume; sometimes we have weeknight functions, but mostly our weeknights involve

Side project: Laura’s Wild Kitchen

Hello out there. I’ve been a little off my blog-posting game lately, mainly because I’ve been cooking up a new side project. Literally.

For anyone that doesn’t know me very well, I am a slightly obsessed foodie and I love to cook. My husband is also a hunter. This means we not only have a deep freezer full of very lean and very

Rocky Mountain High

I’ve said before (and will likely say again) how much it irks me when travel photographers rest on the exotic to create compelling images and refuse to turn their camera homeward bound. Even the very global Ami Vitale turns her lens back to the US sometimes, and not even always during conflict or times of strife as she is often wont to do overseas.

Caution: these sunflowers are undead

Being a freelancer is tough, especially because work comes in waves. You are busy, busy, busy then suddenly the work dries up and you’re like, “Crap! What happened to my pipeline?” For any entrepreneur out there, keep your head up, stay calm, and for Christ’s sake keep your finances prepared for dry spells. Oh, and if you ignore all of those things, at least KEEP WORKING. The slow

Good morning, don’t wake me

Newborn photography is a bit of uncharted territory for me, but as I mentioned previously both of my portrait clients were expecting. (Both have had happy, healthy deliveries, so congrats to both of you!) Despite the fact that I have never shot a newborn before and don’t have any of the special stuff that makes it easier (like a bean bag ottoman or one of those nets you hang the baby in) I

Namibian Notions: “Africa is not for sissies!”

Note: This post is about hunting in Africa. Some of the images in this post are slightly graphic, involving dead animals. For the curious conscious hunter, the hunting outfit is NOT a high fence operation, meaning the animals on the land are free roaming.

Continuing our journey, after a one night stop over in Windhoek (and some really awesome Cameroonian food), me and my travel mate headed north to meet back up with my husband and his brother who had been hunting in the north. The hunting lodge and land is about an hour from Otjiwarongo, near the Waterburg Plateau and definitely a little off the beaten track. The lodge is on about 20,000 acres of land, and it’s a pretty cute little place to hang your hat for a few days. They have seemingly everything a small farm needs; citrus trees and gardens, goats, chickens, ducks, turkeys and, like every good farm, some cats. This was the kind of place to relax, get good and bored, and wile away a few afternoons taking photos and trying to get goats-that-scream-like-humans on video. (No real success there – the goats stop yelling as soon as you walk up and they seemed to specifically run away from my travel mate despite the fact that he was the only vegetarian in the group.)

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As avid hunters back home in the US, to say that my husband and his brother were having a good time hunting would be a bit of an understatement. While we were gone they went off to the mountains mountains for mountain zebra. Yes, they shot zebra. No, the zebra are not endangered; they are actually quite ubiquitous and hunting them is really not a big deal, I promise. At least no bigger deal than hunting anything else in Africa. Most of the feedback I’ve gotten on the hunting part of our trip has been sensitivity to the hunting of zebra. The thing I had a harder time with was the shooting of baboons. The baboons are ubiquitous and vermin in Namibia, and if they manage to get inside an open window your house is torn apart. They are kind of like giant, ape squirrels. Nobody with us shot a baboon, for the record. Dirk, the hunting guide and owner of the outfit and land, is a character in his own right. His token phrase is, “Africa is not for sissies!” We even have the bumper sticker.

I always hated the "sitting next to the kill" photos, but the hunters love the shit out of them.

I always hated the “sitting next to the kill” photos, but the hunters love the shit out of them.

As for the hunting, the gettin’ was good. They both shot an eland, kudu, mountain zebra, warthog, gemsbok (oryx). El Gallo (as we will call the husband) also shot a hartebeast and a rabid female eland that they had to chase through the bush and he practically had to take a running shot at. Not for sissies indeed. Rabies is a real concern in the African bush, as a bad rabies year can wipe out a good chunk of the animals.

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This is Namibia's version of a feeder. This warthog was shot so quickly after I took the photo I actually looked in the frame for a bullet.

This is Namibia’s version of a feeder. The warthog was shot so close to when I took the photo I actually looked in the frame for a bullet.

While we did eat the meat while we were there (thanks to Thea’s wonderful cooking!), the US has some pretty strict-ass laws about bringing meat into the country. In other words, you can’t unless it’s canned. So we had to leave all the meat there, but no worries; they keep what they need and sell what they won’t eat. While wild game is not very popular outside of the hunter’s kitchen in the US, it is a staple in Namibian restaurants, mostly in the form of German fare. (Springbok schnitzel and spaetzle anyone?)  In case you are wondering, eland tastes the best.

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Yes, they butcher it all on site. This is just to show the incredible size of some of the animals in Africa. I believe this is an especially small eland. The hunting dogs eat quite well during hunting season, that’s Bruno, the world’s best hunting dog.

Namibian Notions: Luderitz and Kolmanskop

After  the Quiver Tree Forest, we headed west to Luderitz, a very small, coastal town on the south side of the Namib Desert. As we headed west, the landscape slowly changed from the veldt (dry brush land) to desert and we finally started to see animals other than livestock (and had a few close calls). Unlike many of the world’s deserts, the Namib Desert is a little closer to the storybook version with regular old loose sand in ample supply. As we headed further towards the coast, road signs simply bearing the word “Sand” started to pop up, and we quickly realized it’s because the sand was being blown across the road in proportions that make me wonder how the road doesn’t get plain covered up. (I think they plow it regularly or something.)

See the sand blowing across the road?

Spanning from the South African border to a little ways north of Luderitz is a national park called the Sperrgebiet, formerly known as Diamond Area 1 due to the diamond mining that was prevalent in the area until they pretty much found all the diamonds. While the mining has subsided and despite the fact that it’s a national park, the area is prohibited to casual visitors; you have to go through an organized tour to see this area (something I did not realize was possible and consider it a missed opportunity). Needless to say we did not stop and go off-roading.

I don't know why I took a photo of a pile of tires in the desert. But here it is, the Sperrgebiet.

I don’t know why I took a photo of a pile of tires in the middle of the desert. But here it is, the Sperrgebiet.

Finally we made it to Luderitz, a small but charming fishing village that’s claim to fame is mostly an anchor point to Kolmanskop, a popular tourist destination and the only part of the Sperrgebiet that you can drive up and visit without a guided tour. While there is not much to do really in Luderitz besides the Kolmanskop ghost town and maybe start a guided tour up the coast, if I was on a more extended trip I could definitely see wiling away a few afternoons in this laid back town that boasts some pretty excellent seafood.

There's not much more to the city than this, other than the pier area which is not especially exciting, but nice.

There’s not much more to the city than this, other than the pier area which is not especially exciting, but nice.

Me and my travelmate split a seafood platter. Aside from not wanting to eat raw oysters in a foreign country, it was pretty delicious, especially the fish curry. Next time, I'd just order the curry.

Me and my travelmate split a seafood platter over some beers. Aside from not wanting to eat raw oysters in a foreign country, it was pretty delicious, especially the fish curry and melt-in-your mouth tender calamari.

The following morning we got up bright and early to go visit Kolmanskop, a ghost town that once operated as an old mining town. The distinctive thing about Kolmanskop is that the people moved out and the dunes moved in, filling the old houses and structures with sand. It’s beautiful and a little bit eerie in a way; it provides the reminder that the desert, her shifting sands and the secrets she holds will creep up on you if you stop and sit for too long. This is definitely not the kind of place to get lost and subsequently give up.

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View of the Sperrgebiet from a Kolmanskop abode. I like the footprints on the floor of the room.

 

Spot healing brush, you are spotty

Spot healing brush, why do you do this?

Before:

before

 

After:

After

 

You know damn well this is not what I want. If I wanted a big schmear across my image, I’d select the paint brush. Or maybe the warp tool if I wanted to get fancy. Now I have to take the time to clone. Phooey on you.

About Me

About me

After a photojournalism degree and a short stint as a lead photographer/photo editor at a news web site, I decided it was time to branch out on my own. I specialize in editorial and travel photography but dabble in a little bit of everything.

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