Another safari comes to a wonderful end. As we gather for our final breakfast at Sandibe in preparation for our bush flight to Maun, I am listening to all of the stories around the table. With everyone recounting their favorite image or event that made the safari special for each of them, I look around and see nothing but smiles on everyone’s face. This tells me that Grant and I did well for them and we hope our paths cross again. We were blessed by great weather, great guides and solid game siting.
Special thanks to Eyes on Africa and the entire &Beyond Staff here at Sandibe and at their main office in Maun. A super big thanks to my co-lead on this trip, Grant Atkinson. I always learn so much about animal behavior when I travel with Grant – what a resource.
So I though noting could be more fitting than a photograph of one of our local Leopards process in a classic timeless style.
Nikon D810, Nikon 400 f/2.8 FL, ISO 400, 1/400 sec at f/6.3
Cheers and happy photo’ing from Botswana
Another wonderful day in the Okavango Delta on the Eyes on Africa trip I am co-leading with Grant Atkinson. One of our clients, Beth Stewart, captured a unique angle of a male lion, called Blondie. With this quartering head shot, Beth departed from the normal straight-on shot to emphasize the power in his muscles as he glided through the reeds. Upon reviewing this image with Beth, both Grant and I screamed BLACK AND WHITE. So, Beth sat by my side while I walked her through processing this image using Lightroom, Photoshop, and Nik Software. Hats off to Beth for a great capture.
Funny thing about Blondie, he has a very short main and a short tail. As such, the females will have nothing to do with him…..poor guy. I hope his time comes.
While leading my last photo safari in Botswana we came across a young leopard cub in a tree with her mother just inches away from her. I decided to focus my attention on the young cub. At me pulled up to the sighting, I took the first photograph below. Despite the angle, I like the pose of the cub. I asked GEE, our driver, to pull 2 feet forward and turn the truck slightly to the left. Shooting from the lowest possible angle, I was able to get blue sky and more of a full body shot. Which do you like?
Nikon D810, Nikon 400 f/2.8 FL, ISO 250, 1/250 sec at f/2.8
One of the nice things about being on a private photo safari with me is using guides that know how to get you to the right place at the right time. They are also very eager to help you on positioning the truck for your desired shot. They clearly want to be part of the solution and take pride in being part of the final image. For this event, GEE as our driver and Gates was our tracker. My hat is off to both of you for your tracking skills.
Cheers and happy photo’ing
My second photo safari kicked off with a bush plane flight from Maun to Sandibe (San-de-be) lodge, one of the many &Beyond camps in the area. Sandibe was brand new from the ground up with a full opening only 4 months ago. Designed around the endangered Pangloin, the designs are unique and fresh. The rooms include huge outdoor seating areas, a personal plunge pool, indoor and outdoor showers, and a huge living area. It seems to me that nothing had been overlooked. The main lodge area was modern archichure with open beam concept, again based around the Pangloin. With our guide GEE and tracker Gates, five of us piled into the Land Cruiser every morning shortly after 5am. Although the hours were long, we were rewarded with lots of leopards and wonderful landscapes of the Okavango Delta.
Private plunge pool on the deck of my room at Sandibe with a classic sunset over the water. Nikon D4, Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 at 24mm, ISO 5000, 1/30 sec at f/6.3
After 6 days at Sandibe, it was time to move to our final camp, Nxabega. The tented rooms at Nxabega are on raised permanent floors with showers and facilities inside the tent. They are huge tents and looking at them from the inside, you would never know you were inside a tent. I’ll post some photos of both camps in the near future. A private helicopter charter rounded out our trip and provided a great overview of the Okavango Delta from the air.
Ill be back to Sandibe in some 10 days and Sandra, the manager, is pulling in some special items for me so look out for another round of Martini Madness from the Delta, as I step behind the bar again to teach some mixology to the staff. Look out for dreamy drinks such as fresh pear, peach, and apple martinis followed by my signature basil-cucumber martini. It should be a great time behind the bar after a day on safari.
Cheers and happy photo’ing.
So I sit here in Maun, Botswana for a couple of down days after two back to back safaris, with a third about to happen in three days.
First off was an expedition type safari with Ultimate Safaris (hereinafter referred to as US) into Moremi and Khwai areas of Botswana. This adventure was a camping type safari with food and tents prepared for us. US also offers an experience in which one would participate in food preparation and tent erection. Sporting a one to one staff to client ratio, it was a wonderful full service experience. From fresh baked bread in the mornings to fancy baked deserts with the evening meal, all prepared over a camp fire, nothing was left unattended to. The tents were medium sized with one having ensuite facilities. They area soon expanding to include all ensuite facilities in all tents which will be a nice touch. The vehicle was a Toyota Land Cruiser with a full top cover and ample room for three or four photographers (each having their own row).
Moses, co-owner and primary operator, is a top notch guide. A graduate from the local guiding school, he was very knowledgeable and an expert driver. Raised in the local area, he certainly knew his way around the delta. This experience was complimented by his vast knowledge of the flora, fauna, and wildlife in Botswana.
Nikon D810, Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR @ 190mm, ISO 640, 1/1600 sec at f/7.1
For those looking for a budget priced camping safari without compromising quality, Ultimate Safaris has a great offering and certainly one that I can highly recommend. Their price point and services, now puts affordable safaris in reach by many.
Cheers and happy photo’ing
I wanted to share one last image from my recent Omo Valley trip before I jet off to Botswana for three back to back safaris. This image was taken with a Nikon D810, 70-200mm, and a Profoto B1 with a 3 foot octa light modifier.
Two days ago, I arrived in Addis Ababa after spending two weeks in the Omo Valley of Ethiopia. Talk about being out there….man we are a long way from nowhere. I went to photograph one very special tribe, known as the Suri. Unfortunately, the weather gods kept us from their location as well as another tribe. Between flooded rivers, crossing rivers at night in dug out canoes, to some serious stuck trucks, mother nature cheated me on this one. Based on what I saw, I am already making planes to return to take another stab at this. I’m now in South Africa and I’ll write more in a few days after I get all rested up.
For the shot below, I used a Nikon D810 and a Profoto B1 with a 4 foot octo modifier. I selected the D810 for it’s ability to de-link the foreground from the background when making EV corrections, something that I knew would be critical for this expedition. I selected the Profoto B1 for it’s totally portable solution and 500 watt seconds of power. I knew I would need a powerhouse to deal with the sun however, I was also limited by weight restrictions. The B1 gave me what I needed. Using the new Profoto Nikon TTL air controller, I found myself jumping in and out of TTL often favoring full manual. Having said this, I really love the TTL controller and it really performed well in some difficult conditions.
I am very thankful that I have spent a great deal of time in the studio with all of my model friends. No doubt, this training made me a much better photographer when it came to working with big flashes on location.
So here is the first image from the trip, a male warrior from the Cara Tribe.
Nikon D801, 70-200mm f/2.8 @86, ISO 100, 1/80 sec at f/2.8, Profoto B1 Flash with Octo light modifier.
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.
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.
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.
Nikon D4, 400mm f/2.8 Version FL III + Nikon 1.4 FL III TC, ISO 400, 1/1000 sec at f/8