Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Our African Safari - Day Ten (Cheetahs, Warthogs, Elephants, Giraffe, Monkeys, Mongoose and more)

First of all, I want to apologize for not getting a blog posted last week. It was been a crazy busy week. All good, but just a lot going on, with headshots, events to shoot, our 26th anniversary and more. But alas, I am back at the keyboard and finally getting this blog posted.

Our 10th day on safari started with us waking up early in the Serengeti.

We left the tent lodge just before sunrise, and as we were driving away, I saw this pretty shot. I asked Sam, our driver, to stop so that we could all get a photo. I also took this time to further explain the advantages to stopping down the camera (making the image darker) to exaggerate the silhouette of the tree and protect the highlights in the distant sunrise. It really was the perfect way to start our last day on safari.

Just a half hour later and the morning sunlight was upon us. Out in the distance, we spotted this hippo out for a morning stroll.

On this trip, I had so much fun photographing the zebra, that I just had to get some more photos of these striped beauties. I took this photo at f/5.6 and zoomed all the way to 560mm, focusing on the first zebra. This makes the lead zebra sharp with all the other animals soft behind him.

About 15 minutes later, we heard that one of our vehicles had spotted (no pun intended) a cheetah. Our tour members in that vehicle got some epic shots of this cheetah standing up on a nearby rock, and in perfect morning light. Was I jealous? Yeah - a little! :) But we still caught up with them in time to see this magnificent creature.

We drove up ahead of the other 2 vehicles to try and get ahead of the cheetah, giving us a view as it walked towards us.

At one point, the cheetah stopped and checked us out.

He was probably thinking "Ohhhhhh, that is the new Canon 5D Mark IV" or something like that.

I am not sure if you can see all the lions laying on this rock, but we counted more than 10 lions lounging around on this morning.

Here is a mother and baby warthog.

We drove around looking for cats, made a turn around a large rock formation, and saw this large herd of elephants coming towards us. We quickly drove into a good photo position and started shooting like crazy. We had perfect light and baby elephants!

This is one of my favorite photos with the tiny baby elephant amongst all the adults.

You can not even imagine the size of these elephants until you are right up to them.

At one point, the smallest baby elephant was off on his own. I really like this photo, but without the adult elephants in the photo for scale, it is hard to see just how small this baby is.

As you can see, I was taking photos at the full extent of the Canon 200-400mm lens, but also zooming back out to get wide shots of the herd in their environment.

This was the first time I have ever filled the frame of my camera with a line of elephants.

They came VERY close to us. This elephant was probably 10 feet from our vehicle, so I decided to get some detail shots. I wanted to get a tight shot of the tusks, since this is what the poachers are looking for. It makes me so sad that anyone would kill one of these animals, for just this. Ugh.

While looking through the lens, I saw something I had really not noticed before. The tail of the elephant was really interesting too.

The elephant turned and started to walk away from us, and I took this opportunity to get a butt shot of him. This might make a good final image for my safari book.

I took this photo to show you our beautiful weather conditions, with blue skies and big puffy clouds. Those came and went very quickly.

One of our tour guests REALLY wanted to get a photo of a giraffe splaying and getting low. We saw this giraffe in that position and I made darned sure that Sara got the shot!

Even though we had countless photos of giraffe from previous days on safari, I liked these two giraffe and their surroundings on this day.

Just to the side of the road, we drove up to this buffalo and ox pecker. This is another shot that Sara wanted (since she had seen a similar photo I had taken on the previous years safari), so she was happy to get this photo as well.

We stopped and watched this elephant tearing apart this tree. The elephant literally tore branches from the tree, one by one.

Yep - more baby elephants!

This road crossed a stream with the pretty trees and a nice reflection. It was another good photo opportunity.

We stopped for lunch and were quickly joined by some local monkeys looking for handouts. This baby monkey was trying to use it's cuteness to get food. Just to let you know, we were not feeding these animals, as it encourages them to beg from people, and that is not a good thing.

I followed the monkeys over to a nearby tree and watched this mother and baby interacting...

...and then the baby moved onto this dead branch. It was a perfect photo location!

I followed the monkeys as they moved back down to the ground.

Ahhhh...a kiss.

At this point, it was after 6pm and we were running out of light. We started to head back to the tent lodge for a much needed shower and some dinner.

Sam stopped the vehicle and pointed out some little dwarf mongooses on the side of the road. We ended up watching a couple of these little guys for a quite a while.

It was perfect with the dwarf mongoose poking his head up into the last remaining sunlight. It was excellent portrait side lighting!

Our last two sitings of the day were this large elephant and this warthog. Then it was time to enjoy our 4 course dinner. :)

By the way, if you are interested in purchasing any photos from this trip and others. you can find them on my Fine Art Gallery. And if you saw a photo on the blog that you want to purchase, and it is not on the fine art gallery, I can still provide that to you (other than the Olympic images which are restricted).

And also, remember that you and your friends can enter your email address at the top right of this blog to get an email any time I write a new blog post.
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.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Our African Safari - Day Nine (African Buffalo, Ox Peckers, Elephants and more)

Our ninth day on safari had us driving in the Serengeti National Park once again.

On this day, we got up close and personal with a group of African Buffalo. We were all zooming in tight and taking photos of these animals, but the real goal was to get some photos of the buffalo with the ox peckers on their faces. Most of the people who were on this year's safari remembered my photo from the previous safari, with the bird right on the nose of the buffalo. And they really wanted a similar shot.

No birds just yet...

Knowing that the ox peckers use the buffalo as their own personal ecosystem, I figured that we would have this opportunity. But for the first 8 days of safari, we had yet to get a good shot of this. Day 9 changed that.

As the ox peckers moved around the buffalo, we would keep shooting, to get different angles of the two animals in harmony.

It was fun for me to get different angles than I had photographed last year. (Photographer's note: For this photo, I was using the Canon 5D Mark IV and the Canon 200-400mm lens at 540mm (using the built-in tele converter). I was set at ISO 250 at an aperture of f/7.1, which gave me a shutter speed of 1/640 sec. If you are wondering why I was at f/7.1, it was to get both the face of the buffalo and the bird in focus. If I had taken this photo at f/5.6 or wider, only one of the animals would be in focus.)

We were driving along when I saw these two baboons up on a dead tree limb. What I loved about this moment, was the fact that they were watching the migration, just as we were. I zoomed out to 300mm to show a lot of the scene and set the aperture at f/8. This narrower aperture was to put the focus on the baboons (my subjects) but still have you be able to see the tree and wildebeest in the background.

We saw more baboons with babies.

We did come across a leopard up in a tree. This is not a great photo, but I wanted to include this photo so that you could see what we were seeing. Part of being on a safari is the game of chance. You just never know what you are going to see on each trip. On our last safari, we only saw leopards about 300 yards away and it wasn't even a shot. This was a better photo opportunity than the year before, but still not great. Thank goodness we were lucky enough to see leopards up close in the previous days.

Then it was back to our lovely tent lodge for some lunch. As you can tell, we were not roughing it too bad over there! (You can click on the panorama shot to see it larger.)

We did see a pride of lion but they were not very active. It is a little funny, but after seeing as many lions as we had, we decided that we would move on. How often can you say that you are done seeing lions in the wild? I did take this one tight shot of the male.

Unlike the previous year, which was much wetter and greener, we saw many dust devils in the plains.

As you can see, we had really great weather on the trip, including blue skies and nice puffy clouds.

We stayed out on safari until 5:30pm, and then started making our way back to the tent lodge for some downloading, rest and dinner. We were on the road back to the lodge, maybe a couple of hundred yards from where we were staying, when we saw this herd of elephants drinking from a nearby water hole. It was awesome!

Look at all these elephants right in front of us!

And they had babies too.

I was shooting with the Canon 200-400mm lens, but zoomed all the way back to 200mm. That is how close we were to the animals.

We looked over and spotted this baby nursing. It was incredible to watch this.

And once again, I shot a short video to share the experience with you all. You need to watch this one!

Click on the image above to watch the video (viewed best in high-def)
Stay tuned for our 10th day on safari. It was our last full day doing a game drive, but it was an amazing one.

And also, remember that you and your friends can enter your email address at the top right of this blog to get an email any time I write a new blog post.
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.