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National Parks

Explore Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

The name bwindi derives from a local phase mubwindi bwa nyinamukari originally referred to as mubwindi swamp. The forest was proclaimed impenetrable forest in 1932 until 1991 when it was gazette as a national park and therefore named bwindi. In Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the attractions that makes it pearl of Africa and gifted by nature. This is the most popular of all Uganda’s national parks and it attracts a good number of tourists all year round interested in mountain gorilla safaris. It harbors about 460 mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, birds and clonus monkeys.

It is the richest in terms of eco systems in Africa and the diversity of species is an attribute to this park. The park also habits 220 species of butterflies, 120 species of mammals, 348 species of birds, 1000 flowering plants including163 species of trees and 104 species of ferns. This is a part of Verandas that is shared by three countries, Uganda, Rwanda and DRC Congo. In this Magnificent forest there are Mountain gorillas found in three countries and those that are found elsewhere are low land gorillas. In Uganda there are two National parks where you can find these gentle apes. Besides Bwindi there is Mgahinga National park which is also on the border of Uganda and Rwanda. In Mgahinga, there is only one family called Nyakagezi. Sometimes it moves and crosses to Rwanda. There are 880 gorillas remaining in the whole world and these reside in virunga massif. Uganda’s Bwindi and Mgahinga are blessed with 408 mountain gorillas the rest are in Rwanda’s Volcanoe and DRC’s Virunga National park. According to the census which is done every after 5 years, the gorilla population has increased. This is due to increased conservation and awareness about the importance of gorillas.

Bwindi has four regions that is Buhoma, Rushaga, Ruhija, and Nkuringo. In each region there is a park headquarter and there are different families in each region. In Buhoma there is Bitukura, Oruzogo and kyaguliro. Rushaga has Nosie, Mislay, Kahungye, Busingye and Bweza, and Nkuringo there is only one group family called Nkuringo family. A visitor is free to track gorillas from the region of his interest but for the families, you are a located a particular family to track from the park headquarters depending on how physically you are. This is because some families needs a lot of hiking yet others are a bit near. Therefore people who do not want a lot of hiking or unable, are allocated groups which are near.

Mountain gorillas

There are about 1060 individuals of mountain gorillas. Gorillas are unique apes and are rarely found elsewhere except in Uganda Rwanda and DRC. They are close relatives and live in families. Each family is headed by a dominant male called the silver back. A family can have more than one silver back but the dominant one is the leader of the family. Sometimes other silver backs can fight the dominant male and split the group into two or it can take over after over powering the dominant male. A silver back grows grey hair on the back and can weigh up to 280 kg. It is the one to lead the family and alerts the group in case of emergency like a female giving birth, crossing water bodies, attack from another group and many more. In most cases it alerts the group by chest beating.

Gorillas have gestation period which lasts from 8 and a half to 9 months and babies are born hairy and with long teeth. When there is a female with a baby, the group reduces the movement speed not to leave the mother behind since it moves on three legs while holding a baby. They have a life span of 45 years to 60 years plus and when a gorilla dies, it buried after carrying out a postmortem.

Gorillas from 1-5 years are called infants, 5-7 years are called juvenile (birth age) 1-12 years are called black backs and 13-14 years are called silver backs. A family consists of babies, juveniles, black backs and silver backs. Sometimes the group can split into two. Each family or group establishes a territory where it moves around while searching for food.

They sleep in nests and every each day, gorillas make new nests. Since they are close to humans in terms of DNA, any disease that attacks humans can also attack gorillas that’s why tourists are not allowed to track gorillas with air born diseases.

Once you encounter these endangered gorillas, the experience is worth it. It is emotional to come into contact with a silver back that can way up to 280 kg. It is a life time experience and no one will ever regret tracking gorillas.

Eight visitors are allowed to track gorillas per day per group. This is done to limit human presence with the gorillas since they are wild animals. A visitor is allowed to stay 1 hour with the gorillas take photos, videos and after you are led back to the park headquarter by a guide.

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Wildlife

The Amazing Primates of Rwanda

Rwanda the most organized country and visited several travelers every year. With the ten families of gorillas, your day start early with an early breakfast. Afterwards you will be taken to the park headquarters in Kinigi. At the headquarters you and others scheduled for gorilla trekking tours in Rwanda and that day will be divided into groups of 8 and briefed on gorilla etiquette and safety.

Afterwards you will be driven to the start of the trail and your guide will lead you as you track through gorillas along the designated trails and enjoy its nature. Gorilla treks in the Volcanoes National Park Rwanda are uphill hikes, so even at an unhurried pace the altitude makes the trek a bit tiring. It is very natural to be a bit anxious about the whole experience, especially with your expectation of what it will be like when you finally see the gorillas.

Although you will have been well assured that the gorillas are habituated, chances are,  you have never seen one, habituated or otherwise, so a little anxiety is allowed just don’t let it overshadow the excitement and your ability to enjoy your trek through the forest. Your anxiety will probably go away when you finally come face to face with the gorillas and realize you have nothing to fear. The playful young ones might occasionally stray closer than expected, but as long as you follow your tour guide’s instructions you will be just fine.

Nyungwe is an ideal destination for lovers of primates, with 13 different species living here, and most visitors will go for at least one tracking experience, the most popular of which is chimpanzee trekking. Starting very early in the morning, chimps are tracked in groups of eight and as with the mountain gorillas, you will have just one hour in their company once they’ve been located.

Sightings aren’t as reliable or as clear as gorillas however, since they often remain in dense forest, but their engaging playfulness and human-like characteristics make the long day worthwhile. A safari to Nyungwe Forest National Park will also expose you to an excellent birding experience.

Nyungwe forest harbors almost 300 bird species of which 24 species are endemics of the Albertine rift region like the great blue Turaco, the Rwenzori Turaco, paradise flycatcher, a long-tailed blue, orange and white bird, and the forest horn bills among others. Interested in all the above activities, Rwanda Gorilla Safaris is at your desk. You only need to book with us in advance for the best preparations such that you do not miss out on which group to go for.

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Experiences Wildlife

Wildlife Photography Safaris in Uganda

Uganda a block of East Africa hosts an incredible variety of habitats and wildlife. The conservation of these habitats into National Parks and Wildlife Reserves is the cornerstone for wildlife viewing. One of the most important geographical features of the region is the Great Rift Valley. The large depressions within the Rift Valley fed by streams have become great Lakes, around which many species of wildlife can be found.

They include several National Parks and Wildlife Reserves and concentrate on different aspects of wildlife observation. Some Uganda safari packages focus on a particular interest or activity like bird watching, primate viewing. Some safari guidelines bases on national Parks are too often selected for quantity of animals, certainty and ease of viewing on the game drives. Some National Parks became so popular that they are overcrowded with too many minibuses and jeeps getting careless and scaring animals. Animals move around, seasons change weather varies. There is no way of knowing what each day will bring and there is no guarantee that you’ll see absolutely everything you are after, but most safaris give an amazing wildlife experience!

The long stay is an important aspect, the more time you have to go on safari the more you will see! The chosen travel style will also greatly enhance your wildlife experience; Camping safari will offer you a different experience than lodge safari a part from Katara lodge in queen which provide wildlife view verandah. The game drives are the most common way to observe African wildlife and for most visitors the backbone of their safari. Game drives should be undertaken in a customized 4 x 4 drive vehicle with a driver-guide who has experience and knowledge of the area.

The game drives can be organized at any time of the day but you will have the best chances to encounter wildlife in the early morning and late afternoon. It is cooler and animals are then most active. A first-time visitor will want to see plenty of game, mainly large animals. Although the major animals are important, we advise not to get too caught up with ‘Big Five’ fever, the African wilderness has so much more to offer, especially its incredible bird-life, smaller mammals, primates, reptiles, trees and other plants… If you are receptive to learn about the different aspects of nature and conservation your trip will be much more meaningful and pleasurable.

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National Parks

Explore Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda

Kidepo valley game national park boasts of a great number of animal species than any other park in Uganda. The park’s Game viewing is far the best with lots of game like the bush duikers, leopards, cheetahs, striped hyenas, lesser kudus, buffaloes, jackals, lots of antelopes, bush babies and lots more Game.

The remote Kidepo Valley National Park boasts of great hiking adventures with beautiful sceneries of Lamoj Mountains with a short drive from the Headquarters, the Kanangorok Hot Springs located 11 km from Kidepo river valley are a fantastic spot to visit with great photographic views of lions on Ant Hills, others spots not to be missed, the Narus Valley in the south west of the park with great views of hyenas, leopards and a vast number of wildlife.

The Nature walks leading you to the Karamajong communities in their Manyatta huts, traditional Karamajong wears spears, arrows and bows from their home steads can be a captivating moment for all those looking for African Cultural safaris this is the place to be and you can much enjoy on guided game drives in safari Land Cruiser jeeps.

Narus Valley is rising and falling grassland plain surrounded by faraway mountains. This valley provides permanent water, and through most of the year its wildlife gathers here. Therefore, this area is properly supplied with game tracks, having 4 loop circuits that explore the valley close to Apoka as well as facilitating to photography. Several creatures for example lions, reed bucks, Jackson’s hartebeests, oribi, buffaloes and giraffes are visible within the valley.  Cheetahs plus leopards are as well seen but in smaller numbers.

Kidepo Lions

The Narus dam together with the water hole close to the Tourism Centre is ideal observation place for game, particularly throughout the dry season. At the far southern tip of the Katurum loop, there is the Katurum kopje (a site of an abandoned lodge) is an eye-catching destination with outstanding views north over the valley in the direction of the Morungole Mountain range giving the right gestures for photography.

Cheetah in Kidepo National Park

Mount Morungole towers to 2,750 meters and it is crossed by River Kidepo and River Narus which nourish the wildlife plus the natural habitat of this park. The Morungole Range defines the southern boundary of this park and soars from these plains a couple of kilometres north-east of Apoka. This area may be visited on foot in the company of a ranger. The slopes of the mountain are habitat to the IK people, who are the tiniest ethnic group found in Uganda, and have their own special culture. All this enriches the photo gallery giving you a variety to choose about.  Enjoy such safaris with the tour operator in Uganda at a relatively lower price.

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Wildlife

Cheetah Family – A Day in the Life of the Fastest Cats

In February, I was able to spend 10 days at Little Kwara Camp, one of Kwando Safaris lodges in the nothern Okavango Delta. On the fringes of the world’s largest inland delta, this concession is a diverse area of woodland, open floodplains and deep lagoons. Game viewing is excellent, with Kwando’s strong focus on tracking and predator viewing.

A cheetah family had been resident on the Tsum Tsum plains for around 15 months when we found them on my second morning. I had see this female 2 years previously, and shortly afterwards she lost her week old cubs. This time, she has been far more successful and proving an excellent mother.

On this particular day, we would watch the family from sunrise, through 5 unsuccessful hunts to finally catching an impala.
Before sunrise, we found the the six cheetah moving through the long grass at ‘last mbala’ on the Tsum Tsum plains.
The cubs provided plenty of entertainment for us guests, though were a clear distraction for their mother. By this point, they had already disrupted two hunts. It is common to find Cheetah climbing fallen tree like this one, it gives them a vantage point across the plains to look for prey.
The mother heading out with intent with two cubs close behind.

Tsum Tsum is classic Okavango terrain. An old floodplain, it is dotted with small islands and open grasslands, bordered by woodlands. During the high water levels of the Okavango flood, this area could well be underwater.
Having rested and moved a couple of times, the overcast and rainy conditions provided the cheetah with the perfect conditions to continue hunting through the heat of the day. Moving across the floodplains, the cheetah started to approach a herd of impala. They got more than bargained for, with a troop of baboons also spread out among the same herd.

With their excellent vision, the baboons quickly sent out an alarm call to foil the stalk. Three large male baboons took exception to the the cheetah and aggressively chased the family. One of the young males tried to show his dominance towards them, though as you can see in the two images below, was soon running to avoid them.

Over 9 hours since we first spotted these Cheetah, they were able to successfully catch an impala. Leaving the cubs hiding in the thickets, the mother moved in between a zebra herd a burst into a small open area. Falling into a small channel, the impala was an easy target. Not wanting to disturb the hunt, we were unable to get into position to get any images from the hunt.

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Blog

Magaliesburg Photographer Trump’s Lunar Eclipse Photos

The Lunar Eclipse Over South Africa on 15 June 2011 captured as never before by South African Photographer Mitchell Krog
South African Photographer Mitchell Krog, based in the beautiful Magaliesburg region has once again pulled something magical out of his photographic hat. Mitchell, a multi award winning photographer, is no stranger to the night skies and has spent much of the last 5 years photographing them. On Wednesday evening the 15th June 2011 a lunar eclipse event occured over much of the Southern Hemisphere and had sky watchers all over the world outside to witness this magical event.

In South Africa it is currently winter and up on the highveld in the Magaliesburg region it gets especially cold at night. Braving the cold weather, Mitchell headed out to capture his 4th lunar eclipse and decided to try something different. Instead of just focusing on close up images of the moon, Mitchell decided to go much wider and set up one of his camera’s with an extreme wide angle lens.

What came out of his camera was nothing short of amazing and has certainly trumped a plethora of lunar eclipse images all over the web. Mitchell describes this effect, “A combination of heavy dew fall and misting from the very cold weather is probably what caused the camera to capture this, it is an amazing optical effect like I’ve never seen before and I’ve spent hundreds of nights out photographing the night skies. What I find amazing about this image is that, optical effect or not, it clearly shows the moon sitting in shadow surrounded by the blue glow of Earth’s light. It’s easy for people to jump out and say it’s manipulated but it most certainly is not, this is direct from camera to screen but I’m so accustomed to critics and competitors trying any avenue to demoralize or discredit.”
All we can say is we’re amazed with this image and it already seems to be circulating all over the web and being very much WOW’d.

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Experiences

Bwindi Forest: Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees & Batwa People

Have you ever heard about the origins of the mighty King Kong? These fearsome great apes are only found in the Bwindi and Virunga mountains of Africa. The largest population of the mountain gorillas lives in Bwindi National Park, a national park in South Western Uganda, a small country in East Africa.

Today Bwindi is one of the most popular safari parks to visit in East Africa. Located a few kilometres from the Virungas, Bwindi Forest is an amazing home to the mountain gorillas. According to the 2012 Gorilla Census,  there are over 400 mountain gorillas living within the impenetrable Forest.

Bwindi is the most popular place for gorilla trekking expeditions in Africa. The park attracts thousands of travelers who visit Africa to see the endangered mountain gorillas. Over the past 20 years, many tourists have traveled to East Africa to see these amazing creatures surviving only in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Though most renowned for mountain gorillas, the Bwindi Forest has also got other wildlife species which include; forest elephants, lions, monkeys, bird species and many more.

Many tourists who come for gorilla safaris to Uganda opt for different trips ranging from 3 Days to 3 Weeks adventures that include several adventures including game viewing in Uganda’s savanna parks, chimpanzee tracking, golden monkey tracking, bird watching, nature trekking etc. If you are looking for a trip that involves multiple gorilla tracking, a 4 Days Bwindi Gorilla Safari or a 5 Days Gorilla Safari is the best trip for you!

If you are on budget or with less time,  enjoy the 3 days Bwindi Gorilla Safari into the impenetrable rain forest.

How a Gorilla Trek is Organised

Day one is always involved with a long drive to Bwindi Forest. Tourists are picked from Entebbe Airport and transferred to Bwindi impenetrable national park via Masaka – Mbarara Highway. You will enjoy the scenic drive as you traverse the forests and the vegetation zones along the way. Along the way have a stopover at the Equator in order to enjoy the photos and the experiments. You will also buy some crafts since they are displayed everywhere. The guide will drive take you to an African restaurant where you will enjoy lunch with many different types of food. Later on you will proceed to the park where you will arrive in the evening. Check in at the lodge where you will have your dinner and overnight as you prepare for gorilla tracking the next day.

The second day, is always the day to track the endangered mountain gorillas within an allocated gorilla group. After an early morning breakfast leave the lodge with packed lunch and later proceed to the forest were you will start your search for the rare and endangered mountain gorillas. The trek normally takes a period ranging from 30 minutes to a full day hike looking for the gorillas. Be prepared and physically fit given that  the search for the mountain gorillas within the forest takes you up through various hills and valleys. Once these primates are found, you will be given one hour to watch these unique gorillas. You have the chance to take photographs! During the hike, you have a chance to see other animals that include; elephants, monkeys birds,. You will later return to the lodge for a late lunch or take a community walk where you will visit the neighbouring local communities in Bwindi. The Batwa Experience is one of the most popular community tour taking you into the community of the Batwa people, short pygmy people who used to live with the gorillas in the impenetrable forest. You will enjoy their traditional dances and cultures during this tour! In the evening, you will return to the lodge for dinner and an overnight.

On this third day after breakfast , you will check out from the lodge, you will transfer with your packed lunch. During the drive back, enjoy the scenic views as you travel. You can have a stopover at Mpambire drum makers where you will have some experiments about the making of the drums. Later proceed to Kampala where you will be taken to the airport for your departure flight or transferred to the hotel for your overnight and dinner.

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National Parks

Exploring Nyungwe Primates Forest

The popular Nyungwe National Park is a true rain forest in South Western Rwanda. It is most famous for hosting chimpanzees, our closest cousins. This tropical rain forest occupies 1,015 sq. kilometers and adjoins the Kibira National Park of Burundi forming a large contagious forest.

The park typically receives an excess of 2, 000 mm of precipitation annually.

Nyungwe Forest is a prime destination for primate safaris in Africa. The park protects 13 primate species that can be easily seen within the park. Chimpanzees are the most sought after animals in the park and the park hosts about 500 – 1000 individuals.  The monkey population is also high including the acrobatic Rwenzori colobus and the localized L’Hoest’s monkey. Nyungwe also a suitable destination to birders, botanists and walkers with about 130km walking trails as well as boasting as the region’s only suspended canopy walk area.

Chimpanzee Tracking

This renowned tropical rain forest is one of the few places where you can see chimpanzees in their natural habitat. Chimpanzees can easily be tracked at any time.

Nyungwe Chimpanzee

Located in South Rwanda, this is one of the oldest forests in Africa, which is one of the reason it boasts such a high level of diversity. Scientific opinion is that Nyungwe, along with other forests of the Albertine Rift, was largely unaffected by the drying up of the lowland areas during the last ice age, and thus become a refuge for forest plants and animals which have subsequently recolonised areas such as the Congo Basin.

One of the central planks in ORTPN’s tourism – diversification programme is Nyungwe National Park, 980 square kilometers of hilly jungle cloaked terrain in the country’s South – West, o the boarder with Burundi and the DRC, and surely one of the undiscovered gems of African environmental tourism.

Ranging between 1,600 and 2,950 meters in altitude, the park is contiguous with Kibira National Park in Burundi, together with the two protected areas form the largest block of forest in East Africa. Nyungwe was originally set aside as a reserve in 1933, which although relatively effective, still saw it lose about 20 per cent as its area by 1984, when a coordinated forest-protection plan was implemented. It was elevated to national park status in March 2004 and is famously known now for primates trekking in Rwanda.

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Blog

5 Best Reasons Why You Should Visit Uganda

When it comes to safaris in Africa, most tourists are left to think a number of things and may lure or discourage them from realizing their dreams. However, if you have always dreamt of that one country that rewards travel endeavors with life time experiences then you need not to look any further than Uganda. There are a million reasons why you this incredible country should be a must in your bucket list and among others include;

Its spectacular scenery

Uganda has for long been described as the Pearl of Africa for many reasons. It is that one country where you will find all what African continent has in offer. Its most alluring nature is what makes it one of the most sought after safari destinations in the world and while on your safari, don’t miss to explore most of its wildlife species that thrive in 10 of its spectacular Uganda national parks (Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Mgahinga National Park, Kibale National Park, Semuliki  National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Mount Elgon National Park and The Rwenzori Mountains National Park). These splendid wilderness areas feature a wide range of wildlife right from the big game-the African elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards plus several savanna grassland species, birds, primates including the rare mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, golden monkeys a mention but a few and not to forget spectacular water bodies including Lakes like Lake Victoria the world’s renowned fresh water Lake with the splendid Ssese Islands where over 84 islands all confined, Lake Bunyonyi-one of the world’s deepest Lakes, rivers especially the source of the mighty River Nile, tropical rainforests and distinct vegetation zones all of which feature as a few most exceptional attractions on their own and inhabit a number of wildlife for you to explore while on your safari in Uganda. If you are looking for unusual experiences then this is the best choice you can make in life and you won’t regret after.

Uganda is a multi cultural country

Besides the unique national parks, Uganda is popular for its diverse ethnic groups each offering unique cultural experiences. Lake Kyoga make up the northern border area for the Bantu speaking group and this includes the Baganda and many other tribes. As you head to the north, you will find the Acholi and Lango; to the east you will find the Iteso and the Karamojong, Bagishu around the Mount Elgon slopes and the Ankole group in western region. Due to diversity in cultures, over 40 languages are spoken in Uganda however, English is the official language and others speak Kiswahili while others speak Luganda. Each tribal group presents unique cultural and traditional practices and Uganda is popular for its unique cultural experiences. While on cultural safari, don’t miss the thrilling dances, music performance from the Batwa pygmies, Bakiga, Baganda or pay a visit to Ndere cultural centre for variety of cultural dances and performances or taste the local dish.

Gorilla haven

When it comes to Uganda safaris, gorilla trekking is undeniably one of the most sought after experiences by most tourists. Over 480 mountain gorillas call this spectacular country their home and unlike other gorilla destinations, gorilla trekking in Uganda is conducted in two national parks-Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga National Park all in southwestern part of the country. A face to face encounter with these dramatic creatures in the wild is such a magical experience that comes once in a lifetime. To be part of this lifetime adventure, you only need $600 to secure your permit and your dreams would have been achieved.

Eco tourism experiences

With eco-tourism, you get opportunity to enjoy untapped destinations that still offer fresh experiences. While on safari in Uganda, this should be one of the experiences that you shouldn’t miss out. It takes you through a number of activities among others include community walks, nature guided walks, birding, forest walks, mountain gorilla trekking, wildlife viewing, chimpanzee trekking, primate watching, scenic viewing a mention but a few. The major destinations for you to realize this kind of experience in Uganda include the 10 national parks, wildlife reserves, community wetlands, forest reserves, cultural centers and many others.

Uganda is the most hospitable nation

Imagine a destination where nationals are not welcoming and full of arrogant people, will you even enjoy your vacation probably you won’t. However, Uganda is that one country in Africa with warm welcoming and hospitable people and you will certainly enjoy your holiday with them. You will free interact with your guides, local residents and even make some purchase for their locally made products in most of their eco-tourism enterprises while on safari in one of the national parks.

In conclusion, there are a million reasons why Uganda should be a must for you to visit and with a few that have been listed above, we believe that you will have memorable experiences while on your safari in Africa. Enjoy your holiday with us!

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Blog

Photos Look Better on a Dark Background

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve visited a forum and seen a photographer urging their viewers to view the image against a dark background because it looks better, I’d be a millionaire by now.

Black or dark backgrounds naturally enhance any and all colours, they can even make sub-standard images appear really good but ask yourself this …. are your walls at home painted black or charcoal grey?

I can guarantee that 99.9% of people will answer NO to that and I can also guarantee that 99.9% of your customers who you try and sell images and prints to also do not have dark black or grey walls in their houses.

If you truly want to visualise how an image will look in your house then view it on an appropriate background colour such as white or off-white shades or other neutral tones. As a photographer you should also think a little bit more about this and stop urging people to view it on a dark background, concentrate on making your images look good on lighter backgrounds, that is after all the conditions that 99% of your customers will use to display your print.