Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tanzania, Africa - Day 9 - Hippo, Baboon, Lion, Elephant, Lizards and more

Welcome to Day 9 of our safari. This was our last day of being out in the wild, as the next day and a half would be travel back to the city and some much needed shopping for gifts. 

Even though we had a wet and wild ride to the Hippo pool the day before, we thought that is was worth another trip before making the long drive to our next resort.

As we were making our way towards the pool, we saw this large group of female Impala who were hanging out, and following the one male lead. I liked the way that they were all bunched up. I changed the settings of my Canon 1DX to f/11 so that most of the Impala would be in focus. I zoomed the Canon 100-400mm lens to 240mm to fill the frame with all the female Impala. 

After another 20 minutes of driving, we came to the Hippo pool once again.

As the evening before, there were many Hippo hanging out on this morning.

Mike was the first person to notice that some of the Hippo would come together, mouth to mouth, and form the shape of a heart.

This was the cropped photo I posted on Valentines Day. 

When looking at my photos from the afternoon before, I noticed that I did not have enough wide shots of the pool, and made sure to get some on this visit. This one large Hippo stood up in the background and I saw that as a great time to get my wide shot.

But with all the action happening in front of us, it was hard not to zoom in tight and take more photos like this. 

After taking a lot of photos of the Hippo, I decided that it was time to try something new. I decided to put on my Tiffen Digital HT Circular Polarizing filter to cut the light coming in to my camera, and try some slow shutter shots.

I was walking back to my vehicle to get the filter, when I turned back and saw many of our group taking their shots. I am glad that I took this photo of them, since it shows them in action and also gives you an idea of the shooting environment at the pool. 

I also decided to grab my Gitzo tripod with Acratech ball head to give me a sturdy platform for the slow shutter shots.

This first shot was taken at f/22, with the polarizer essentially turned off, giving me a shutter speed of 1/8 second. I was happy that the front Hippo stayed still, but wanted more motion in the water. 

For this next shot, I changed the camera to f/25 and achieved 1/5 sec. Good, but still not enough motion in the water.

Using the Tiffen HT Circular Polarizing filter at it's full potential, I was able to achieve a slow shutter speed of 1/2 second. Being that we were in morning light with cloud cover, this was not too shabby. And the effect was exactly what I was hoping for. I had good motion in the water, and the other Hippo, but my subject stayed nice and still for that 1/2 second, giving me a nice unique shot.

One last big mouth shot before heading out for the long drive across the Serengeti.

As we were leaving the Hippo pool, we saw a small group of Baboon along the side of the road. We would have kept driving (since we already had a lot of Baboon photos) but there were more babies. Time to stop once again.

(Canon 1DX, 100-400mm lens at 400mm, ISO 320, f/5.6, 1/800 sec) 
This little baby peeked around it's mother and I grabbed this shot. I love the look in this little one's eyes.

We were driving across an old stone bridge when our driver stopped and said that we had to wait. It turned out that a Monitor Lizard was crossing in front of us. I waited for it to get to the other side of the bridge and took this photo of the lizard looking back at me.

We also saw this Lilac-breasted Roller high atop a nearby tree.

Hey look - we came across another pride of Lion, and they were walking along the road.

The Lion walked from the road out into the grass. They were heading for this old tree and I was hoping they would climb it. Lucky me, a couple of them climbed up and stood watch up there.

Further along the same road, we saw these Elephant off in the distance. I asked our driver if it was possible to drive off road in the mud to get closer to them. Sam said that this should be no problem, so off we went.

I asked Sam to stop to give us this shot. I really liked the adult and baby Elephant in the foreground with the large rocks in the background.

In case you are wondering how close we got to the wild animals in Africa, check out this photo. This large Elephant walked right by one of our Land Cruisers and started throwing mud onto it's back. You can see all the mud flying in the air behind Tina and Mike. I think that Mike's smile says it all!

At one point, the baby decided to lay down and take a rest. The adult Elephant came by and used it's trunk to get it back up again. We all enjoyed this show.

We got about half way across the Serengeti and stopped for lunch at the park exit. While hanging out and getting ready to have a bite to eat, I saw these Agama lizard and was amazed by their colors. I figured that lunch could wait, and grabbed the camera to photograph these beautiful little guys.

And then after lunch, I continued my quest to get a nice shot of the male Agama. This guy was at the top of this rock, checking out me and my camera gear, and so I took his portrait.

Continuing on our long drive, we saw many more Zebra in their common stance, watching in both directions. 

We ended up back at the overlook over the Ngorongoro Crater. The weather was very different from our previous visit to this location. But it was a good chance to get some portraits of ourselves in this iconic spot.

Stay tuned for the blog of Day 10 - our last day in Tanzania.

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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