Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Tanzania, Africa - Day 3 - Another amazing day in Ngorongoro Crater

Hopefully you have seen Day 1 and Day 2 of our safari on the blog, and now we move on to the third day of the trip, with a bunch more animal sitings.

Come on and join me to see what we saw on our second day exploring the Ngorongoro Crater.

We decided to take it easy on Day 3 and let everyone sleep in a little. Everyone met at 8:30am for a nice breakfast in our main tent. For those of you wondering about the food in Africa, I can tell you that we ate well, with food that is not too far out of the norm for us. My typical breakfast consisted of a Spanish omelette with some toast or pastries, and some fresh fruit. And the Tanzanian coffee is excellent. Trust me, we were not roughing it!

At 9am, our awesome drivers were all set and ready to start the day. We had three vehicles with no more than 4 people (including the driver) per vehicle, This made it really easy to have all our camera gear in the Land Cruiser and still have plenty of room to move around and get a good shooting position, no matter what direction we were pointed.

Within a couple of minutes of leaving the camp, our drivers spotted a couple of large male Lion coming down a hill far to our left side. Using every bit of reach with our Canon 100-400mm lenses, we were able to get some nice shots of these amazing creatures.

And since the morning light was behind them, this created some really nice rim lighting on our subjects.

This male had come down the hillside and stopped to check out the surroundings. Using the slower burst mode of the Canon 1DX, I took a bunch of photos with his tail in all positions. I like this one the best.

It was great to see everyone loving this experience as much as I was. Here is Tina and her big smile.

And here is Michelle soaking it all in. I should add that Michelle is just learning photography. I arranged for her to get loaner gear from my good friends at Canon and she did an awesome job. By the end of the trip, she was fully aware of her camera settings and capturing excellent photos. She is proof that you do not need to be an experienced photographer to go on these trips and come home with amazing photos.

We came across this family of Wart Hogs as the little ones fought for some nursing time.

These are not the best looking creatures, but take one look at this photo and you can see how the creators of Disney's "Lion King" would want to create a character from this face.

Of all the Cape Buffalo that we saw on the trip, this was one of the rare sightings of a youngster.

As I mentioned on the last couple of blog entries, I was always on the lookout for Zebra in interesting patterns. Here, I spotted these 5 Zebras all in a row, almost as if they were waiting for the oncoming vehicle to pass by before moving on.

There were many times when I captured photos of the surroundings, since the colors were just so beautiful.

It was about 11:30am when our drivers stopped the vehicles and, using their binoculars, spotted two Black Rhinos out in the distance. We sat in the same spot for a while, hoping that the Rhino would come our way. And sure enough, they did. This is one of my favorite photos of the Rhino with an Elephant in the distant background.

Once the Rhino passed by, we started moving once again. We stopped and photographed some other animal before coming across a group of Impala. I saw these two Impala chasing other and quickly cranked up my ISO to 640, framed and shot them as they sped past. I was photographing these guys at 1/2500 sec. A little faster shutter speed than I needed, but I did not have time to make minor tweaks since this all happened so fast.

It is hard for me to resist the baby Zebra.

This photo above and below both show baby Zebra who are still sporting some of their brown coat. Baby Zebra are born with full brown coats and then, as they mature, lose the brown and earn their stripes.

For some reason, I really enjoyed shooting photos of Zebras when they were behind other Zebras.

This is a common position for the Zebra as they stand opposite each other to watch out for Lion and other predators.

Almost in the same location as we had seen Elephant the day before, we came across these older Elephant tucked away in the trees.

This Elephant was bathing itself in mud.

After lunch, we came across another group of Baboon. And once again, we could not resist photographing the baby with mom.

There were so many great moments between these two, as the baby nursed.

 I just kept taking photos capturing all the subtle exchanges.

I know this looks like mom is saying "Ouch - that hurts!" but the mother is actually yawning.

Although, this looks like it hurts.

After about 10 minutes of nursing, the mother Baboon scooped up the baby and they were off.

Then we stopped for a lunch break (with food packed up at the camp).

There were a couple of times on our trip when we stopped for food and had to deal with animals trying to get to our lunch and snacks. This Monkey and baby did their best to get our food. I scared them off, doing my best to direct them to a nearby tree. As luck would have it, they hopped up on that tree and stopped in the perfect position for me to grab this photo of them.

Another shot of these two up in the tree.

Speaking of animals trying to get our food. I have no photo to show you, but I do have a funny story to share with you all. While we were stopped at this remote location eating our lunch, Mike (our fearless leader) was standing out in the open with some food in his hand, when a really large Eagle swooped down and stole his lunch right out of his hand. He even had a small cut from the bird's talon to prove it. It shocked him, and we all stood their in disbelief as this took place. All of that camera equipment and nobody got the shot. Darn!

These Vervet Monkeys are called Blue Ball Monkeys. If you have to ask why...just look at this photo.

Here are a couple more photos of a mother Monkey and her baby.

 It amazed us how easily the mother could run and jump amongst the trees with the baby holding on.

You might wonder why I have this photo of Matt and his suitcase, and why he looks so happy. Well...from the time that we started our trip in the U.S., this was actually our 5th day of the trip, and Matt's luggage had been lost the whole time. The poor guy had to live in the same clothes for all that time, washing whenever he had the chance. On this day, we were able to meet up with another vehicle to get his luggage. He (and all of us) were very happy for this big occasion. :)

After spending most of the day inside the Ngorongoro Crater, it was time to head up and out. As we crested the crater and came down on the backside, I saw this pretty scene, with the Maasai village. I asked Sam, our driver, to stop for a shot. Out of nowhere, these three Maasai came by the truck and I asked them to stand in the foreground of my shot. Their presence and their colors really help make this photo much stronger.

Here is another distant shot of a Maasai village. Most of the Maasai are nomadic and will move throughout the year, but some stay put.

We drove for another half hour and then came across our first Giraffe. We were all excited to see these amazing creatures in the wild.

I liked this vantage point because there was so much separation between the Giraffe and the background.

It was fun to watch this Giraffe get down low to pick up some fresh leaves.

After photographing the Giraffe for a while, we had to get moving to get to our next camp before dark.

We pulled in to Olduvai Camp about an hour before sunset and all got settled into our luxury tents. The plan was to meet at 6:30pm and hike up the hillside for sunset. We did just that, and arrived with 20 minutes to spare.

I saw this amazing golden light on our Maasai guide (who called himself my brother since we share the same haircut), and started to teach portrait photography to the group. Trust me, in this light, it was almost impossible to take a bad photo. I even took a shot with my iPhone and posted it to my Instagram and Facebook pages un-retouched. Even that looked awesome.

As part of this impromptu portraiture class, I stressed the important of shooting tight and wide shots. This photo is taken from the same location as the previous photo, but shows a much different scene.

After shooting the portraits high on the rocks, we moved down to a lower position, to have the Acacia Tree in the shot. I asked our friend to stand in this position and I took this photo. I only had one flash with me and between it's limitations and the difficult camera metering, this photo needed some work. But I knew that I could easily correct this in Photoshop.

Here is the completed photo. In case you are wondering how I got all this color and detail from the original photo, it was easy. I adjusted the shadows and highlights to darken the sky and brighten the foreground. Yes - all this detail is in the original photo. This is why I always recommend for people to shoot in RAW. Not too shabby for 5 minutes of tweaking. Right?

Thanks for checking out Day 3 of the safari. Stay tuned for the blog of Day 4 and more in the coming days.

And, for those of you who missed this amazing opportunity, we are going to do this amazing safari again next year...check out the site HERE to sign up for the 2017 trip! We have a limit of 12 people.


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1 comment:

Unknown said...

I hope you avoided those pesky Black Kites during lunch breaks Jeff! They do provide some hilarious photo ops though with unsuspecting tourists!