Thursday, August 9, 2018

Botswana Photo Tour - Lots of elephants, wild dogs, lions cubs and a doors-off helicopter ride!

We woke up early (5:30am) on this particular morning in Botswana, ate some breakfast and then headed out to catch the first light of the morning. It was no more than 10 minutes after leaving the lodge that we drove up on a herd of elephant.


It was just before sunrise, which gave us enough light to get these photos. We set our cameras to ISO 1000 and started having our first fun of the day.


Not a bad way to start our day!


I started the day using the Canon 1D X Mark II camera with the Canon 100-400mm lens. I love this lens since it lets me shoot wide shots and tight shots like the one below.


This one female made sure to let us know that she was in charge.


We even got a little trunk curling to photograph.


I was shooting images and video of the elephants when I noticed the first rays of sunlight hitting them. I turned in the vehicle to see the sun rising to the elephant's left. I quickly reframed to see if I could get a cool sunrise silhouette shot.


This happened so fast that I barely had time to change camera settings. I kept the ISO at 1000 and aperture at f/5 and just changed the exposure compensation to -.7. I could have gone down lower on the exposure compensation, but it still worked just fine. This is one photo I have wanted for a long time, made especially nice with the baby elephant at the front.


When this big female elephant walked to my right, I got low in the vehicle to put the sun just rising over her back and got this photo. Another favorite of mine.


About a half hour after photographing the elephants, our guides spotted a small pack of wild dog. These are not easy to find in Africa, and this was my first time seeing these animals.


Just like me, this yawn shows that they were having trouble waking up at this early hour.


As we were driving around looking for more wildlife, our driver got a call from our other vehicle. They had spotted some female lions and cubs! We hurried over to their position to see this family. As we approached, this mother and cub stood up and looked out into the distance. So beautiful.


Mom laid back down while one of her cubs climbed up on her.


After photographing the lions sprawled out at the base of the tree, our guide pulled around so that we could get a head-on shot of the cats. At the same time, this cub climbed on top of this termite mound to get a better look at the surroundings.


We sat there for a while and had fun photographing the cubs as they played around.



Seeing these cute little cubs was the perfect ending to our morning of photography.


After capturing these images, we went back to the lodge for some lunch and prepared for our doors-off helicopter ride over the countryside.


As we were finishing our lunch, we could hear the sound of rotor blades in the distance. That meant that our ride was coming.



We took off from the grass area in front of our lodge and saw lots of wildlife below us. I decided to take this ride with just my Canon 5D Mark IV camera and Canon 24-105mm lens.


I have flown in helicopters with the doors off before, and love this so much! I had to get a shot with my feet dangling off the side of the chopper.


We looked down on these hippos in the water.


This is a water hole with a lot of red algae. We had driven past it many times prior to the flight, and it was fun to see it from the air.



Our flight lasted for a little over an hour, and as we returned to our lodge, I asked the pilot if he could fly over our places. You can easily see the hippo trails to the water hole near the lodge. We heard them each night as we went to sleep.



Even though we had a full day of photography, I saw the clouds and wanted to get a nice sunset shot. One of our tour guests joined me in photographing the sunset.Using the Canon 5D Mark IV and 24-105mm lens,  I showed him how we could get a starburst from the setting sun by changing our cameras to a small aperture (f/22). Not a bad way to end our day in Botswana!

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