Monday, September 5, 2011

A Safari in California? Yep - It's Safari West in Santa Rosa, CA

Last weekend was another fun trip to Safari West, which is located near the Napa Valley in Northern California. This time, I was up there to teach photography to some of the photo buyers from Target. On Thursday evening, I spent an hour and a half teaching them how to take control of a DSLR camera, get it out of automatic mode, and get creative. Then, after spending a night in the African tents (and dealing with a whole lot of noisy birds who apparently don't believe in sleeping), we got up on Friday morning, hopped into a couple of their open air vehicles and headed off to explore the 400 acres.

I brought Canon DSLR cameras and various long lenses (between 200mm and 300mm) for the students to use, while I used my Canon 5D Mark II with a 100-400mm lens. The photo above was my example of shooting at a wide open aperture, keeping the face and eyes in perfect focus but having everything else go soft in the background.

The great thing about Safari West is that you can get up close and personal with so many different animals. These shots of the giraffes were taken when we drove right into the open area with them.

I swear...I get no respect...not even from the animals!

The rhinoceros are not the most active of animals, but they are pretty cool to look at. These two were at the lower area of the property, and then we drove up into the hills.

We came across a herd of cape buffalo who were lounging around, minding their own business. This guy was nice enough to look up at us to let us get a nice portrait.

I love the long curved horns on the Oryx. This image was an example of shooting in portrait mode (tall) vs. shooting all the images in landscape mode (wide).

I like this shot of an Eland who was walking behind one of the Zebras. The contrast between the Zebra's stripes and the Eland's brown hair, help make the photo more interesting.

This Gemsbok was hanging out underneath some tree cover when we came around the corner. He turned and looked right at us and I grabbed this shot.

After taking the two hour tour of the property, you can walk around the "base camp" area and see some really cool animals in there pens. They even have this beautiful Cheetah (obviously in a caged area). I was teaching the students how to shoot through a fence to try and make the foreground wires almost invisible.

These Ring-Tailed Lemurs were too cute. They were taking some time to clean each other when I stopped by for some photos.

Also on the property are some really interesting birds. And because you can walk around and get really close to them, this makes for an outstanding photo opportunity.

Not to be forgotten, there are numerous Tortoises cruising around the property. And they actually move faster than you might expect.
As we were finishing up our 3 hour tour of the property, we watched these two Giraffe as they bumped necks (a show of dominance). We all took a lot of images of these two animals and they performed this act for us.

If you are interested in visiting Safari West, you can check out their web site at:

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