Thursday, July 26, 2018

Our visit to Victoria Falls and our first day in Botswana

I am now back home and back to fast Internet which gives me a chance to catch up on my blog posts from the second photo tour in Africa. We had some unbelievable experiences on this trip and I am excited to share them with you all.

Before we ever made it to Botswana, the plan was to fly to Zimbabwe to photograph Victoria Falls in the late afternoon light, when it is best. But as you may have read on my Facebook or Instagram pages, we ended having a cracked windshield on our South African Airlines plane and having to turn around. This meant that, by the time we got another flight out, we missed our photo opportunity.

But, knowing that the morning light would be bad for photographing the falls (rising right in front of us), myself and one of our guests, Patsy, made our way over to the falls before sunrise to see if we could get some nice photos.

I hurried to get this slow shutter shot of the falls, trying to beat the rising sun, which you see coming up on the right of the image. I used my new Tiffen HT ND filter to darken the scene and get a shutter speed of 1.6 seconds to blur the water.

I moved quickly from one fall to the other to get some different shots. The water was flowing at a record level, so the rising mist made it very difficult to get a clean shot of the falls. I had to wait for the wind to blow just right to get a clear view.

There are many separate falls with Victoria Falls, but we only saw the first three since the mist was so all encompassing. Right before leaving the falls, I saw this rainbow pop up and grabbed one last photo.

Later in the morning, we made another trip to the falls, but the light wasn't as good and the mist was still overwhelming. It was time to head to Botswana for our first safari.

Unlike all game drives that I have done before, this time we were on a boat to capture images along the Okavango River.

And as you can see from this photo, the boat was specially outfitted for photographers with custom-made gimbals. These were very handy for shooting video, although unlike most of our guests, I actually preferred to shoot handheld. 

It was so awesome, cruising along the shoreline and seeing so much wildlife!

We watched as a heard of African Buffalo grazed in the swampy grass.

The best part of being on the water, was the opportunity to photograph the animals in the water from the water.

These two young elephants were playing around and giving us one great photo after another.

We enjoyed the wildlife, both big and small.

As we coasted along the shoreline, it was really fun to spot so many different animals to photograph. Our guide spotted this Monitor Lizard walking along the bank of the river. He pulled the boat in nice and close for a better view.

I kept my Canon 1D X Mark II camera and Canon 100-400mm lens trained on the lizard, waiting for him to smell with his tongue. I wanted to get a photo with the forked tongue very visible.

It was late in the afternoon and the sun was low, giving us really pretty light to photograph these Yellow-billed stork. I not only loved the colors on the birds, but also the warm light on the grass and surrounding hills.

As we were photographing the storks on the ground, one of them flew by with some nest-building material. I quickly moved my lens to the flying stork and got this shot of it flying by us. (Photographer's note: This is why I almost always leave my camera in AI Servo focus mode when photographing wildlife. Since I use back-button focusing, I can easily focus on my subject which might not be in motion, and also track animals that are on the move.)

At one point, as we pulled away from the shoreline, I saw all of our long shadows and thought that it would make a good photo. I know that you can't see it from this photo, but I know that we all had big smiles on our faces!

This was one of my last photos of the day. The sun was very close to setting when we saw this huge crocodile resting along the edge of the water. Our guide was able to get the boat VERY close to the crocodile. I got down low on the boat and shot this image at it's eye level. I really love the bright yellow eye on this prehistoric beast.

And this was just day one of our trip!!! I have so many more photos to share with you all. Stay tuned!

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