Deep into the Omo Valley

This my last communication until the 24th of October.  Today, we move deep into the Omo Valley to photograph the vanishing tribes of the Omo Valley.  We arrived late yesterday afternoon after a long drive from Addis.  Arriving at Paradise Lodge, we journeyed out a bit and put out fingers on the shutter for a bit.  This morning, I was greeted by a classic African rain storm starting about 0300 with a heavy pour lasting for 2 hours subsiding to a heavy mist around 0700.  See on you the flip side.

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Off to Africa Again – Ethiopia and Botswana

Off again for 50 days in Africa. First stop will be Addis Abba, Ethiopia to photograph the tribes of the OMO Valley. Then I jet back to South Africa for three days of recovery, then it is a massive push into Botswana for three back to back Safaris. Grant Atkinson will be co-leading the last safari with me and I am excited to be working with him.

While in Ethiopia, communication will be nonexistent (Coogan and Alexis – if you need me call my Sat Phone), so my posting will be very delayed.

So what is in my kit this time? As much as I wanted to bring my Hasselblad for the tribal work, my weight limit just would not support it, but man did I try hard. Note that I have had to pack for two complexly different shooting conditions and requirements. This will meant leaving some equipment in JNB with Wilderness Safari folks. Having said all of this, I am very excited to be taking my new Profoto B1 with the Nikon TTL module into the Omo Valley. My light modifier of choice is a 3 foot Ocoto (left the magnum and a gird snoot on the packing room floor – darn it). My bodies will be Nikon’s D4 and D810. Again, super excited to use the D810 because of it’s ability to separate the background from the foreground matrix meetering during TTL…..what a wonderful option. Glass will include 24-70, 70-200, and the new 400mm f/2.8 florite series. Big glass for Botswana. I’m also toting my Fuji X-T1 with a 10-24 and a 60mm.

I’ll check in as often as I can so stay tuned…..

SFO below taken from the United International Business Lounge. Thanks United for the Global System Upgrade. Too bad I didn’t have the same luck with Lufthansa (flight was canceled and I was put on a SMASH box of an airplane for some 10.5 hours (Ethiopian).  I have never been in such a cramped position in all of my life.


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Safari Days 7& 8, 23 – 24 Sep 2014


Our first and second full days at Kogentenda were a pure treat.  On our first day, after hunting for lions, we headed for the river to answer a river crossing call. Upon arrival, the crossing was in full swing and I could hear the shutters blazing away. In the afternoon we returned to the Mara River and watched as wildebeests started to build and build on the shores across the river. Just as we thought we were done for the day, they started. Before we knew it, the crossing was in full force and again shutters were burning up electrons.

Our last full day in the northern Serengeti was again filled with excitement and everyone is not looking forward to leaving the day after.  The highlight of the day was lions in the rocks the very first thing followed by incredible rhino photography.

_DSC3009Nikon D4, 400mm f/2.8 Version FL III + Nikon 1.4 FL III TC, ISO 400, 1/1000 sec at f/8

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Safari Day 4,5 and 6, 20-22 Sep 2014

Safari Day 4,5 and 6, 20-22 Sep 2014
Sunrise 0620
Weather: Partly cloudy with clearing skys in the afternoon

We moved from Ngorongoro Crater today to our central Serengeti camp, Robanda. Along the way and while at Robanda, it was lion central with lots of adult and cub lions. Our first morning, we hit the jackpot with tons of Wildebeests within 5 minutes of departure. Having briefed everybody on panning techniques the night before, everyone had plenty of opportunities to practice panning with the Wildebeests running all around us. We all had our dose of hippos at the Retima hippo pool for the classic hippo shots, complete with lots of gaping mouths and nasty water. After three wonderful days at Robanda, it will be time to move to our northern camp tomorrow. Sorry for the short postings, but the days are very long and the nights are very short. Early to rise tomorrow for more photography in the great Serengeti with Thomson Safaris ‘Thru the Lens Safari’

419C2060(c) Randy Hanna, Nikon D4, 70-200mm f/2.8, ISO 200, 1/40 sec @ f/11.



Cheers and happy photo’ing till I get another chance to post again.


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On Safari – Day 2 & 3

Safari Day 2 & 3, 18-19 Sep 2014
Sunrise 0615-ish
Weather: 55 F on the rim with heavy overcast
Ngorongoro Crater Tented Camp Site, Tembo 2
Movement from Ngorongoro Crater Tented Camp Site to Serengeti Central Camp Site

We broke camp early this morning to hit the gate at 0645 for the great light. On decent we were treated to a wonderful sunrise with clouds falling over the rim of the crater.

_DSF0289-EditFujifilm X-T1, stitched pano 10-34mm lens, ISO 200, 1/60 sec @f/7.1,

No sooner than we rounded the last corner in the road, did we hit the jack pot with a female lion and 5 small cubs. We hung out with these cubs for nearly an hour as they played and started their morning. As we neared the end of our visit in the Crater, we came across 5 lions scattered across the an open area. In the distance we observed three Cape Buffaloes heading straight for the lions. With the wind across their backs, they remained unseen. The lions continued to position themselves into the perfect attach position for a classic ambush. At the last minute, one of the cubs stood up and spooked the buffaloes causing an all out run for their lives. We were perfectly position to capture the action excepted it happened so close that those of us with longer lenses, missed as they aimed directly for our truck. Wendy Chu was at the right angle to capture the near miss. The buffaloes with live for another day and the lions will go hungry tonight. Great job Wendy.

2N6A1924Cheers and happy photo’ing and it is great to be on safari.


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On Safari – Day 1

Safari Day 1 – 17 Sep 2014
Sunrise 0615
Weather: 70 F and cloudy
River Trees Country Inn

After collecting all of my clients last night from the airport, it was off the bed for some much needed sleep. Our morning came with all of the surprises, sights and sounds of Africa around our wonderful lodge, River Trees Country Inn. River Trees is my most favoriate lodging in all of Arusha, supurb service and outstanding food with a quaint setting along a running river make for a wonderful entry point into Tanzania. If you love pizza, they have one of two wood fired pizza ovens in all of Arusha, and man can they knock out some killer pizza. My last meal was a squash rosemary pizza with extra ham. Top this off with a Serengeti beer and it just does not get any better.

After our orientation briefing this morning, we are off the Gibbs Farm continuing onward to the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater where we will photograph the Maasai people in their native setting. Following this photo setting we will move to our camp surrounded by flat top acacia trees. What a sight and a wonderful setting. What a wonderful setting of our first night on safari.

Tomorrow morning it is an early rise as we journey down to the carter floor for an entire day of photography.

Cheers and happy photoing.


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Just How Big is Africa?

Africa is the world’s second-largest and second-most-populous continent. At about 30.2 million km² (11.7 million sq mi) including adjacent islands, it covers six percent of the Earth’s total surface area and 20.4 percent of the total land area. With 1.1 billion people as of 2013, it accounts for about 15% of the world’s human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, both the Suez Canal and the Red Sea along the Sinai Peninsula to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagos. It has 54 fully recognized sovereign states (“countries”), nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition. As of 1993, African people used more than 800 languages and regional varieties of a language, or dialects. Source: Wikipedia.

Africa’s population is the youngest among all the continents; 50% of Africans are 19 years old or younger.

For a graphical idea of just how big Africa is, take look at the graphic below (with a little bit of effort you can stuff the UK into Madagascar):

How big is Africa

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So What Did I Bring on This Safari?

First off, let me share with you that I challenged all of my photo clients to a packing challenge; to see who could pack the lightest.  I wonder who the winner will be?

I took it upon myself to try to do a total carry-on approach this time around.  So here is what I brought this time around, two carry-on’s:

Little Bag (not really that little but I can CRAM it into the luggage sizer rack if I had to):  3 paints (should have gone to two), 4 shirts (should have gone to 3), 5 pair of underware, 5 pairs of boot socks, 5 tee shirts (could have gone to 3 maybe), cords and connectors, toiletries, rain jacket, light weight jacket, micro weight gloves, hat, sun screen, plastic bag, bungee cord, extra batteries for camera, battery chargers, tool kit, I FORGOT MY MOSQUITO REPELLANT AND JUST NOW REALIZED IT.

Camera Bag:  Nikon 400 f/2.8 Version III, Nikon 24-70mm, Nikon 70-200mm, Nikon 1.4TC Version III, Nikon D4 and D3x, Fujifilm X-T1 with 10-24mm and 60mm, satellite  phone,  colorspace backup, Lacie HD, Mackbook Pro and log book.

It’s heavy but I made it all fit – not sure I will do this again.

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Why Africa, They Ask ?

When people find out that I travel the world making photographs, the first thing they ask is ‘where is your favorite place to photograph.”  I quickly rack my brain for the short second that I have to respond, but only just to reconfirm that it is Africa.  With many places holding a very close second, I still am drawn to Africa and all of her mystery.  I think Heminway best put it in his is Africa Journeys, “I believe there is no sickness of the heart too great it cannot be cured by a dose of Africa ……if ever I have seen magic, it has been in Africa

I can’t begin to tell you the magic that I have seen in Africa over the years.  From successful drinking water community projects to the wild places and all of the action that they hold, it is magic at it’s best.  All you have to do is give her a chance to show you a small taste and you will forever fall in love with all she has to offer.

I always tell my potential safari clients two things:

“For an adventure of a lifetime that will stir your soul and warm your heart, visit Africa.  Once you get the dust of Africa on your boots, you will always find a way to return”.

So What Are You Waiting For?  Join my next May or September Photo Safari for Tanzania.



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On My Way to Africa

Sitting here in lounge at Dubai after a lengthy and uneventful 20 hour ride from Seattle.  With a 12 hour layover, I will soon start my last push of two plane rides to my other office, Tanzania.  Although it has only been some three months since I was last there, it seems so long ago.  Sure am looking forward to seeing all of my friends and wonderful folks at Thomson Safaris and those lovely sights and sounds of Africa.

20140914_192630_1Cheers and looking forward to posting from the bush.


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