Saturday, March 25, 2023

Flamingos in Africa? Absolutely!

When people think of animals in Africa, flamingos are probably not the first thing that comes to mind. But I have made numerous visits to Tanzania and Namibia and literally seen tens of thousands of these amazing birds.  On our recent photo tour to Tanzania, I saw more flamingos than I have ever seen there before. There were many parts of the lake that were turned pink by the saturation of birds along the waters edge. 

I am excited to share this experience with you all.

We had our guides drive us close to the shoreline so that we could isolate certain birds. I was shooting with the Canon R5 and the RF100-500mm lens. I suggested that our guests set their cameras to ISO 400 to get a fast shutter speed (1/1600) to capture the birds as they moved. The flamingo run along the top of the water before they lift off, leaving a great trail behind them. This makes for a great photo!

We all took photos of the birds in flight. I suggested that everyone try to get images when the birds were flying low, out of the bright sky and using the stationary birds as a background. 

We watched these 5 birds as they pranced along the shore right in front of us. The way that they were walking in unison reminded me of ballet dancers. 

After shooting a lot of images of the flamingos, I thought it was time to challenge some of our tour guests. I suggested that they lower their ISO to 50 and roll their aperture to f/14 and try panning along with the birds. It is not easy to get the birds sharp when shooting at 500mm and 1/60 sec, but the results are really nice!

For this photo, I rolled my exposure compensation to +1 and panned along with the fast moving flamingos. This created a high-key shot (extra bright) and further blurred the background. 

A couple of days later, we took a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti. I was hoping that we would see some of the lake as we floated across the plains, and our pilot did not disappoint us. He was able to take us over the lake numerous times (riding different air currents) and at altitudes ranging from 800 feet to 5 feet. All those dots are flamingos in the lake from high above.

I was using my Tiffen Circular Polarizing filter, which really helped get nice reflection shots off the water.

As you can see, this was taken at a very low altitude.

There were 5 balloons in the air that morning, which allowed us to get nice images of the other balloons in our photos. 

As our pilot lifted us to a high altitude for the last time, we looked down and saw these lines in the lake. At first we had no idea what we were seeing. Then we realized that these lines were caused by the flamingos as they moved across the water, cutting lines in the algae along the surface. I pointed the camera straight down and caught this image to share with all of you. (You can also see the shadow of our balloon mid way into the frame.) 

It was just one more amazing African experience for myself and the others, and one that I will never forget!


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