Saturday, September 11, 2021

Lions in Africa: Beautiful big cats caught in action with the Canon R5 camera

We are winding up our month long stay in Africa, with visits to Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, Zimbabwe and short stints in South Africa. We have seen so much during this time, including many sitings of lions. When we are on safari in Africa, we are always excited to come across these big cats. I wanted to share more images of these amazing animals from the plains of Tanzania, Kenya and Botswana. 

Quite often, we come across lions and they are doing what cats do most of the time, they are laying down sleeping. In this case, we are lucky to get a shot of them with their eyes open.


Other times, the big cats are laying underneath bushes and we can barely see them. I call this a "NASBIC" moment. NASBIC stands for "Not a shot, but it is cool". This is a good time to see the animals with our eyes, but not worth shooting images. The photo above was a rare time when this group of lions were out in the open, but this time they were on the road and actually blocking the bridge that we needed to cross. We waited for them to move on before crossing.


What we really want to see is the lions out in the open, in the low grass and with great sunlight on them. We saw this lioness as she got up to move and was looking right into the morning sunlight. We were photographing a couple of females and two males on a zebra kill. I will spare you the really graphic images of the kill (although they are pretty cool).


I waited for the same female to move in front of the kill and took this shot. It gives you a hint of the kill, but since the lioness is perfectly in focus and the kill is soft in the background, it tells a story with a little less of the gruesome impact.


This big male was eating for a long time, and then gave us this great look. I have mentioned this on previous blogs, but it is worth repeating that the lion is not being aggressive here, it is just yawning, but it makes for great photos.


This lioness was stalking in the tall grass when we found her. I got down low in the vehicle to try to get right into her eyes. We had cloud cover at the time which gave us non-directional light. I have been using two of the Canon R5 cameras and a combination of the Canon RF100-500mm lens and the older Canon 100-400mm lens. I also have the Canon RF24-105mm lens for wider shots. The eye tracking of the new Canon mirrorless cameras has been a total game changer this time around! I think 75% of the people on our photo tour are buying new cameras after borrowing the R5 cameras from Canon. 


This lioness looked directly at us and yawned. Another perfect photo opportunity.


We love capturing the interaction between the lions.


This large male was out for a stroll one morning, looked right into the morning light and posed for us.


It is not uncommon to see lions having sex in the wild. When there is a mating pair, they can repeat this every 5 minutes for hours. This can last for up to a week, and they do not eat when they are in this mode.


That same male, when finished with his business, gave us this.  So powerful!


This was another mating session captured in the camera. 


We all laughed at the end of the mating when the male lion went to lie down and then did this.


There is nothing I love more than photographing the young wildlife here in Africa. We have seen countless young elephant, cheetah, leopard, lions cubs and more. They are just too cute. It is hard to believe that these cute little cuddly cats grow up to be so dangerous.


We were along the Chobe River in Botswana when we saw this female lion head down to the rivers edge to catch a drink. She looked up for a brief moment (into the late afternoon sun) before heading off to meet with the rest of the pride.


This is the same lioness sparring with a male. I laughed when I saw the surprised look on the male's face.

It was the end of a long day in Botswana, and we had spent a long time with the same pride of lion. We were hoping to see the cubs come down to drink, but they never made an appearance. This one lioness did drink, so we got that shot in the last minutes of sunlight before heading back to the lodge. I have been making a conscious effort to shoot wider images this time around, showing more of the environment that they live in. I tend to photograph the animals really close up, which is awesome but sometimes fails to tell the whole story,

I have many more images to share with you. More to come...


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If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
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Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours. 

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Thursday, September 2, 2021

Photos of The Great Migration: Wildebeests, zebras, crocodiles and more!

I have taught photography on many safaris in Africa, and when we visit Tanzania this time of year, it is to photograph (amongst many other things) the Great Migration. This is an annual occurrence where millions of wildebeests (and a spattering of zebra) cross the Mara River in their migration to follow the rains for fresh grass and water.


As we drove around the Serengeti, we could see endless lines of wildebeests.


Early one morning we saw a bunch of these crazy looking animals on the horizon with great clouds in the background, and I taught the group how to use exposure compensation to take a proper silhouette shot.


Some people come to Tanzania and Kenya hoping to see a river crossing and end up never seeing one. We met a small group of people who had been in Kenya for eleven days and never got to see a crossing. We were lucky enough to see many when we were in Tanzania. This was a photo from our first sighting.


Our last crossing was just amazing, with wildebeests coming down from all angles. This event lasted for at least 20 minutes, with thousands of the animals making their way from one side of the river to the other.


Our vehicle was parked in the perfect location, as the wildebeests came up the bank right in front of us. 

This reminds me to tell you how we get into a good position to see the crossing. Here is how the craziness works:

There are 10 turns of the Mara River where the animals typically cross. Our guides are on their radios and hear that there is a large group of animals at a certain turn. We drive over to the turn and wait to see if any of the wildebeest will cross. This wait could be anywhere from 5 minutes to many hours. All vehicles have to stay away from the edge of the river until the animals start their crossing. Typically the vehicles are 150 yards back. As soon as the first 10 or 20 animals commence the crossing, it is a free for all! All the guides start their vehicle engines and drive as fast as they can across bumpy terrain to beat the others and get into the best position to see over the edge. Trust me, you need to be seat belted in and it still is not easy holding on to ourselves and our camera gear during this short drive. Then you hope you got a good spot and start shooting!


At one point I turned around and saw the mass of wildebeest that was behind us. I reminded everyone to turn around and get this shot showing the mass amount of animals who had crossed in front of us.


Towards the end of the crossing I decided to try and motion pan some of the wildebeests that were running in front of us. I quickly rolled my ISO to 100 and my aperture to f/22, giving me a shutter speed of 1/40th of a second. Then I followed the animals as they passed by, trying my best to keep one of them sharp. This was my best photo. I just wish I had tried this with all the mass of animals coming down on the other side of the river.

Some people might find these next images disturbing, so consider this my warning to you all.

Part of doing a safari in Africa is seeing the circle of life. The need for animals to prey on others as a food source is just part of life here. You might think that it would be difficult to watch live, but honestly it is not. One of the cool things to watch during a crossing is the crocodiles. This is their chance to get a meal.


We were watching many wildebeest as they made their way across the Mara when our guide notified us that there was a crocodile in the vicinity. Before I could even react, the crocodile pulled this young wildebeest under water. It was struggling to stay afloat when this second croc appeared and grabbed it by the head.


We watched as the two crocodiles worked together to take this poor thing under water.


It did not stand a chance...


At another crossing, we watched as another crocodile went for the kill...


...but it was unsuccessful and then looked to see if it could find another potential meal.


We watched as these two zebra crossed right next to the crocodile. But the croc did not strike, waiting for a smaller and easier target.

We saw this young zebra crossing behind the adults and saw the crocodile as it made it's move. It came out of the water and appeared to grab the front leg of the small zebra. The good news is that the young zebra got lucky and did get away, making the crossing unscathed.

It is something to see in person! And we will be back here next year to see it all again. If you are interested in joining us, reach out to me.


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If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
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Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours. 

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Sunday, August 29, 2021

More photos from our safari in Tanzania: Elephant, lion, leopard and more

I am now sitting at a beautiful lodge right next to the Mara River in Kenya, as we transition from the first photo tour (in Tanzania) to the second photo tour (in Botswana). We are still going out for safari with the guests who are joining us for both trips, but also taking it easier and getting caught up (since the Internet here is decent).

This gives me a chance to push out another blog to all of you.


This first image is one of my favorites from the Tarangire Park. I saw this herd of elephants with ages varying from the very young to the more mature adults, and decided to take a wide shot to include the mountain in the background. I love the pretty scene, but especially the smallest elephant in the middle of the pack, who is in mid stride.


I used that same mountain as a backdrop for this bird which happened to fly by as I was photographing the elephants. I absolutely love the subject tracking ability of the Canon R5 to lock in on fast moving objects and get them in perfect focus.


One of the signature symbols of the Taragire Park is the Boabab tree which is unique to this area. 


From Tarangire, we flew a small plane up to the Northern part of the Serengeti to a totally different terrain. Our first cat sighting was this leopard and her cubs. They are so beautiful!


At one point, the mother leopard left her one cub at the top of rock. Look at those eyes!


Not far from our tent lodge, we found this large male lion...


...and even better, this female lion and her four cubs. At first we had two of the cubs with mom, and then were treated to all four.


I love having all the cubs in this photo, but more importantly the interaction between the mother and cub.


The cubs came down off the rock and were coming towards our vehicle. It was the perfect time for a photo. I used the Canon RF100-500mm lens to focus on the first cub and let the others go slightly out of focus in the background.


The mother lion came right after the cubs. I love the way that both the adult and cub are in the same position of their stride in this photo.


This youngster was in the middle of a yawn when I caught this photo. By the way, 99 percent of the time, when you see a photo like this, it is a yawn and not a lion being mad. Whenever a cat yawns, I always remind our guests to burst off frames. Even though it was just a yawn, I liked the way that this little cub looks like he is trying to be a future king of the jungle in this shot.


Later that same day, we had a large herd of elephant cruise right next to our vehicles. I waited for the youngest elephant to show through in the middle of the pack and get this shot.


A short time later we saw this really tiny elephant following it's mother close behind. How cute is this?


We all took many photos of this young elephant. If I had been shooting video, you would hear all of us in the vehicle saying "ahhhh...that is so cute!"

I have many more images to share with you, when time and internet access permits. Next up will be photos from the Great Migration.

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Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
__________________________________________________________________________
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours. 

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Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Safari in Tanzania - about as opposite of the Olympic experience as possible

A couple of weeks ago I was writing blogs from Tokyo and now I am sitting here surrounded by the plains of the Northern Serengeti. It was a really quick turnaround at home, with me never really getting time adjusted before heading off again, But I am not complaining, as I love it here in Tanzania, and we had a bunch of guests for our photo tour who were ready to see something other than the walls of their homes.

The good news is, this is a more relaxing pace than the Olympics. But like the Olympics, the days are really long here. There are some many amazing things to see, that we are typically on safari for ten to twelve hours a day.

With that...let's get to some photos!


The first part of this photo tour started in the Tarangire Park, which is widely known for the large amount of elephants. But there are plenty of other animals there too. One of our first sightings were these zebra at one of the local watering holes.


I saw this ox pecker on the back of a zebra and suggested to our guests that they isolate that in a photo. Oh, I should mention that on this trip I am using two Canon R5 cameras and both the Canon RF100-500mm lens and a Canon 24-105mm lens.


I was tracking this bird in flight and got lucky enough to catch the bird right as it flew by a giraffe.


Here is a group shot of our photo tour attendees (for this portion of the trip). As you can see, we are not hurting for camera gear. Thanks so much to Canon Professional Services for loaning a bunch of gear to the group!


When people think of the wildlife in Africa, they usually think of the big animals. But all living things here will amaze you. Look at the colors in this lilac-breasted roller. Amazing!


As I mentioned, Taragire Park has a lot of elephants. We saw these two loving each other and had to capture that in our cameras. 


It is so awesome to see large family groups, with youngsters of varying ages.


The size and power of the elephant is something everyone should see and experience in person. 


Our first lion sighting was early in the morning. This female was surrounded by flies (which you can see in the photo if you look closely).


She walked straight toward our vehicle, so I got down as low as I could to get this straight-on shot. I wanted to show our guests how getting low could bring us more into the lion's world.


We also got to see a couple of her cubs. This was one of my favorite cub images at the time. Since I took this, we have seen many more. I will blog those later.


On our third morning in Tanzania, we found some cheetah hanging out near our lodge. I just love these animals! This youngster was yawning, and we all fired off photos.

On our fourth day, we all woke up early to pack up and move to our next lodge. I happened to look outside my tent and saw this beautiful sunrise. It was a great start to the day.

I have so many more images to share with you all. I just need the time to write and an Internet connection strong enough to post the blog. Both are scarce over here!


__________________________________________________________________________

Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
__________________________________________________________________________
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours. 

__________________________________________________________________________