Thursday, February 11, 2016

Tanzania, Africa - Day 4 - Landscapes and a visit to a Maasai Village

For the first 3 days of our safari we concentrated on seeing as much wildlife as possible. On our 4th full day, we decided to change things up a bit. We decided to spend the first part of the day checking out the local landscape, followed by a visit to a local Maasai tribe. Both were great, but the visit to the Maasai village was exceptional!

Come along and join me (virtually) on Day 4 of our safari.

Our day started with a really nice breakfast at Olduvai Camp, with good food and lots of laughs. At this point of the trip, everyone was time adjusted and slowing down to the relaxed pace of Africa. After finishing my omelet and cup of coffee, I went back to my tent to grab all my camera gear. As I was walking along the path to our waiting vehicles, I saw this Rock Hyrax hanging out on a nearby rock. I grabbed the Canon 1DX, which already had the 100-400mm lens on it, and shot this photo. Actually, before I shot this, I moved my position so that the tree was positioned behind the Hyrax. If I had the bright sky behind the animal, the photo would not have been very good.

My Maasai friend was waiting near the vehicles, standing near some of the hand made jewelry. I decided that this would make a good portrait. I had him turn slightly so that his ears were more visible.

We started driving off towards Olduvai Gorge when we came across these Dik dik. These are actually tiny little antelope which only live in Africa. And yes...they are really called Dik diks.

As we were driving, I saw this one Maasai walking and liked the way that his bright red outfit contrasted against the green field and mountains.

And then we came across these Maasai who were tending their goats. I asked our driver to move us into a position where the mountains would be in the background and got this photo. I really like this photo, because it shows these Maasai in their environment.

After shooting the other photo, the Maasai continued on their way, and I continued to shoot to get this action shot.

We came across more Giraffe. Even though I had many photos of Giraffe from the day before, I liked that these were in a completely different environment.

I also liked having wide shots of the Giraffe in their surroundings.

I saw this Maasai woman walking with her baby through one of the fields, and captured this portrait. The colors that they wear are really striking.

And here is another wide shot, showing the Maasai tending a herd of goats in front of the Tanzanian background. (Photographer's note: You will notice that I like to shoot tight and wide shots of the same subject matter. But you will also notice how different they are. Each type of photo tells a different story. When you travel somewhere like this, I recommend that you shoot tight shots to show detail and wide shots to show environment.)

After a couple hours of driving and photographing, we arrived at Olduvai Gorge. Looking at the colors of the rock here, I decided that this was a great place to teach our guests about polarizing filters. I grabbed my Canon 5D Mark III and attached a Canon 16-35mm lens. I also attached my Tiffen Circular Polarizing filter, which pulled the colors out of the rock and helped increase the contrast in the cloud sky.

For those of you who have never heard of Olduvai Gorge, this is the location where they found what is believed to be the oldest signs of mankind.

There were Acacia trees lining the rim of the gorge. Since we had this nice blue sky with puffy clouds, I once again used the 5D Mark III, wide lens, and circular polarizing filter to get this shot highlighting this one tree and it's shadow.

After visiting the gorge and exploring the countryside for most of the morning. we returned back to Olduvai Camp for some lunch, another photography lesson, and some rest.

Then, late in the afternoon, we drove to a nearby Maasai village. This turned out to be a favorite stop for many of our tour attendees (and myself).

For this part of the trip, I did something that I usually do not do. I used my Black Rapid Yeti strap and carried two cameras with me. I had my Canon 5D Mark III with the 24-70mm lens and the Canon 1DX with the 100-400mm lens and a Canon 600EX-RT flash). I don't usually like having two cameras hanging on me, but knew that I would want cameras with a wide and a long lens for this visit.

Upon our arrival, the tribe members got together and did a traditional dance.

You can see that part of this dance has the men jumping.

This is part of the Maasai culture as the warriors jump high to make themselves bigger, and therefore more threatening to predators.

As interesting as the dance was, I was fascinated by the people who surrounded me.

I used the longer zoom lens to zoom in tight and capture the character of these tribes men and women.

I saw this beautiful woman standing with her baby and waited, for what seemed like forever, for the baby to look up. It was worth the wait.

More great details, not only in the face, but also in the jewelry.

I did mention the beautiful colors that they wear.

I saw these two women standing by their Enkang (hut) and grabbed this shot. I was invited into one of the Enkang. They are very low and very small inside, but it was really interesting to see how these nomadic people live. The Enkang are made mostly with brush, cow dung and even cardboard. There was a small fire pit near the entryway, where they would cook their food. Also inside, there were two rooms, one for the woman and children and another for the man. The Maasai men are polygamist, so they are at different Enkang throughout the week. We heard about one chief who had 30 wives. Yikes!

A little more dancing from the men. (I do have video from the village and will edit it soon to share with you all.)

I was walking around and saw this great composition. I had the Acacia tree, the Enkang and the brightly colored women off center, all in one shot. Another favorite from the trip.

And then I was back to taking portraits. Looking at these faces, you can probably see how I was captivated be these individuals.

I stood outside their little school hut and shot photo of the children. Michelle had stepped in and was teaching them an American song at this very moment.

The kids loved it.

Kudos to Michelle for having the guts to sing in front of the kids! I can take photos but I definitely can not sing!!

As I was walking away from the school hut, I saw these three women walking away from the village, and just had to get this photo. I know that they are not looking my way, but this is another favorite from the trip. I love the colors, the background and the placement of the three subjects.

Yep - and then I was back to taking more portraits.

This boy had such unique characteristics and such an intense look about him. His long hair signifies that he is one of the tribe's warriors. All others have shaved heads.

And if you have ever photographed with me, you know that I love turning the camera around and showing people what I am capturing. These tribesmen could not wait to see the photos on the back of the camera.

One of our guests, Hal, had been on this trip with M&M Photo Tours once before. He was nice enough to print photos of many of the tribe members from the previous trip and bring them this year. That was a real hit, and I plan on doing the same thing next year with my photos.

Right before leaving the village, I got this photo of Tina, Joanne and Michelle with the tribesmen.

This was the end of yet another great day. Not only did we get great photos, but we got a chance to learn about and experience the Maasai culture.

Stay tuned for the blog of Day 5 and more.

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:

danielkehoe said...

Hi Jeff,

Two of your photos struck me. The first was the Maasai walking towards the edge of the photo. It makes him seem to have somewhere important to be as opposed to entering the photo like he's coming from somewhere.

The other was your first giraffe photo. I liked how his body and neck duplicated the angle of the tree branch. This really draws the eye to it even if you don't really know why.