26 August 2009

On photo assignment in Zambia

We're back in Johannesburg again. The last two weeks we have been on an assignment for two lodges in Zambia, and we had a fabulous time. We had photographed for this lodge before for the Wild Romance book, and they asked us back for some additional shots for their new brochures. We made some new shots of an existing room and some of a very new one that they were still building when we were there.

All the time that we were there, there were either elephants in the camp, or very nearby. One afternoon Daniëlla and the lodge manager had a relaxed chat on the verandah when an elephant walked by and briefly stopped to check them both out. They sat there motionless without making a sound to not to disturb the animal in any way, and after a few seconds it moved away again - a truly breathtaking experience.

Also part of the assignment, was to photograph a walking safari. This is one of the many cool things you can do in this area, and definitely not something you can do in most other African parks. Marsel wanted to photograph an elephant standing underneath one of the typical big trees, with a small group of people at a safe distance in the background. Photographing an elephant is one thing, but to photograph one with people in it is quite something else. We used two vehicles; one with Marsel in it and a guide, and one with the 'actors.' The idea was to have four people in the shot: two tourists, a guide and a security guard. We drove around the area, searching for elephants, preferably standing in good light and eating from a big tree. When we found one, Marsel would take position and direct the other vehicle to the spot where he wanted the people in the frame. He would then make the composition while the four actors would get out of their car and slowly and quietly walk into the shot. Obviously, with wild animals it is very important to keep a safe distance - both for the people and for the animal. By using a long lens Marsel was able to compress the perspective, pulling the animal and the people closer together in the shot.

To get a good shot was not easy to say the least. It takes time to find a good potential shot and then to all get into the right position, and by the time everything was set, the elephant was already starting to walk away or decided to turn around for a nice butt-shot. We eventually got the 'money shot' not far from our camp. A large elephant was feeding from a large tree and was not in a hurry to move - we gratefully took advantage of that!

15 August 2009

The Masai Mara is getting ready for the migration

We heard that huge heards of wildebeests are already moving in to the Mara, so we expect the Squiver Migration tour to be spectacular! We are still holding a few first-row seats. As the lodge is full, time to enlist is limited, so if you want to see the biggest spectacle on earth: book quickly!

05 August 2009

Loads of leopards in South Africa

We just finished this year's Extreme Leopards tour in South Africa, and it was fantastic. Not only did we see 16 different leopards in 10 days (!), we also had a wonderful group which made it even more enjoyable. The first camp we stayed in we had completely to ourselves, which was really nice. Dallas, Mike and Retief, our excellent guides, did a superb job finding leopards for us, helped by some of the best trackers in the region. Every now and then we had to do some serious off-road driving to find our elusive subjects, but that only added to the safari experience; exciting and fun! The days after a large elephant kill we had more difficulties finding leopards, due to a sudden increase of predators in the area, in particular hyena and lion, so we decided to spend more time on some of the other animal species. But it didn't take long before the leopards showed up again and we were presented with excellent sightings.

The last 3 days of the trip we spent at another lodge in a different area. Even though we were still in the same park, the habitat was completely different and made for a nice change for our images. Our leopard sightings got even better here, with one female and a cub, and another female with two cubs - exactly what we were all hoping for! On one day, one of our vehicles even made a 12-hour long game drive with non-stop action from one of the females and her cub - an unforgettable experience. Thanks to Chris, Gareth and Graham, our expert guides for all the hard work!

We all returned to Johannesburg with more leopards shots than we could count, and six pounds heavier from all the good food our chef Chedrick prepared for us... Four people from this year's group already indicated that they would like to join us again on this same trip next year - we're already looking forward to shooting with you again!