Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Zebras in Africa - These black and white stripes are everywhere

Today we are going back to my recent trip to Africa for another blog post. This time I am focusing on the referees of the African plains, the zebras. During the reverse migration, it is not uncommon to see thousands of these animals during our 10 day safari. And did you know that every one of these animals has their own distinctive pattern?

It was early in the morning on our January safari and we were driving into the Ngorongoro Crater as the sun rose. We looked to our left and saw these zebras sparring in the early morning light. I got out my Canon 1D X Mark II with the Canon 200-400mm lens and captured many images of this activity.

We also saw this young zebra (foal) nursing.

There is nothing cuter than a young zebra. They actually start with brown fur, which falls off to reveal their black and white stripes.

At one point, we came across two cheetahs who were crossing the plains in Ndutu. They seemed to be in a hunting mode and I was confused why these zebra would just stand there and wait to be eaten. These were the dominant members who were watching out for the others in the herd. If I was a zebra, I would have been heading for the hills (even though I know they can not outrun a cheetah).

On the February safari, we saw these zebras standing in front of this large flock of flamingos and I thought it made a nice composition. Just as we started shooting photos, these two started sparring, giving us even better subject matter. I made sure that all of our guests were shooting a shutter speeds of at least 1/1000th of a second to freeze the action.

It was fun watching them as they jumped and swatted at each other.

It is this activity that may explain why zebras, which are related to horses and donkeys, have never been domesticated.

Once the zebras were done sparring, they sprinted away.

Most of the time, we will see zebras coexisting with the wildebeest. These zebras were within sight of a family of lions and they were on high alert. The zebras have excellent eyesight, and even night vision, which is why the wildebeest like to travel with them. This is an added layer of protection for the wildebeest who have poor vision.

We saw an endless line of zebras coming over a hill and crossing this small lake. We had fun capturing images of them as they ran through the water.

Since we had so many of these animals crossing in front of us, and everyone had nice shots of them frozen in action, I encouraged our guests to slow their shutter speeds to try and capture some motion pan photos. For this shot, I changed my camera settings from 1/1250th of a second to 1/20 sec (by setting my ISO to 100 and my aperture to f/36) and panned with this group.

Whenever I see zebras in or around still water, I always look for their reflections.

Using the reach of our long lenses, we zoomed in on small groups of zebra to highlight their reflections. I converted this photo to B&W using NIK SilverEfex Pro, since I thought that this particular image would be more dramatic without color.

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