I’m kicking off what’s sure to be another great safari here in Botswana. We’ll be at Little Vumbura, an island camp in the northern Delta, for the next four days. Have a look at this fantastic tented camp, complete with private plunge pools, views of the floodplains, and great service.Read More
Today we said farewell to our wonderful camp staff on the rim of the Crater and we began our journey to Gibbs Farm for our last night on our safari. We stopped on the way down at the Ngorongoro Conservation Area HQ for a quick refresher on a huge scale 3D topographical map. As I pointed our the highlights of our journey, it was a graphical reminder as to just how much distance we have covered on our adventure. At Gibbs Farm, I did a session on Lightroom and protecting your photos. As we sat on the veranda with wine in hand, I always like to go around the table letting the clients comments on their highlights of the trip. Some of the highlights for them included: The amount of wildlife, the landscapes, the elephants, the flamingos, and of course the lions. Last count, elephants and lions TNTC (to numerous to count), 3 leopards, 3 rhinos, hundreds of giraffes of all ages, a few million wildebeests, and zebras beyond counting.
Back at Gibb's Farm, I found myself in the bar teaching the guys how to make a Seattle Martini. Rachel, the Chef, prepared a wonderful slow roasted lamb meal for us with all of the trimmings. What a wonderful place to spend our last night in Africa.....simply lovely.
Blogging live from Gibb's Farm in Tanzania, Africa
From the Serengeti to the Ngorongoro Crater, here we come.
Today was our drive day as we moved from our camp in the Serengeti to our new home high on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater (7,800 feet). About half way to the Nobi Gate we ran into a huge line of wildebeets and zebras that had to extend for several miles, as it seemed to never end. With the line on the move, they provided us with some wonderful panning opportunities. Continuing our drive to the Crater, we arrived at my favorite Maasai village for an insight into the Maasai way of life. After visiting with the Maasai, I arranged for an impromptu portrait session with several of the warriors and women. If I recall the details correctly, they were ready to arrange a low cost marriage for me. Something like 200 cows would get me a Maasai bride – I took a pass. Tomorrow will be another early rise - off to the spend the day in the Ngorongoro Crater.
Blogging live from the Ngorongoro Crater.
Today we rose to heavy overcast skies and with two of my clients off to a balloon ride over the Serengeti, the rest of us headed for the central area of the Serengeti. More lions in trees and more lions in trees. The wildebeests and zebras have moved into the plains near our camp in full force. Following some landscape work on the way back to camp, it was an early return as we started prepping for another early morning departure and head for our new home high on the ridge line of the Ngorongoro Crater. As I write this, a storm has moved in complete with thunder and distant lightening. I always love falling to sleep under the skies of the Serengeti with rain hitting the roof of the tent. What a way to end the day. Oh yes, we celebrated one couple's 48th anniversary tonight with a special song and dance from the crew. Classic touch from the Thomson Safari Serengeti Crew. Thanks guys, you made the night very special for two lovely folks.
- Blogging Live from the Serengeti -
Man-oh-man, up early again today, breaking camp at 0545. Our first objective was the hippo pool for a very early shoot. I wanted to give the clients a shot at photographing the hippos as they were retuning to the pool after a full night of grazing as well as taking advantage of very low lighting angles. It is during this period when most fights break out as everyone tries to get the best spot in the pool. We continued onward to the Massai Kopjes in hopes of finding the lions again. This time all of the lions were together, still looking well fed. As we continued toward the Research Area, we hit massive herds of zebras and wildebeests, many in a single file march as they continued north toward the rains and Kenya. Again, the cloud formations were just wonderful. As we bring the night to a close, it was lamb with mint sauce, broccoli, squash, potatoes, and a green salad with a lime tart to finish off with – there goes the weight. One interesting thing this safari, is the tall grasses. This is causing a change in the animal behavior such as numerous lions in trees. Lake Manyara, just outside of the park, is well known for its tree climbing lions however, seeing all of these lions in tree after tree in the Serengeti has been a new experience for me.
- Blogging Live from the Serengeti -
While working the border between Tanzania and Kenya, I started photographing this bull that separated himself from the main herd. Using a telephoto to compress the distance a bit gave me the added safety distance that I needed. All in a days work I guess.
While leading a photo safari for Thomson Safaris, our group followed this large male leopard for nearly an hour has he walked through the tall grass and the undergrowth in the Serengeti. While tracking him, we observed what we thought was a limp from time to time as he walked. After passing up numerous trees, he finally found one that he considered suitable and up he went. Once he took up his perch, we could see a recent wound on the right leg. Thankfully the wound appeared to healing.
Cheers and happy photo'ing
It will be early to rise when another great safari with Thomson Safaris rolls around in May. The photograph below was taken just after sun rise as the pink clouds when nuts while I was looking down the row of tents in one of our camps the the northern area. Tanzania is a magical county and the scenes from the Serengeti unfold right before your eyes hour after hour.
If a photographic safari has been on your bucket list for some time, now could be the time to make it happen. Take a look at this fascinating itinerary including the Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti Plains, and Gibbs Farm to mention a few.
Ok, it’s time for the annual 2014 wrap up and a glimpse of what’s happening in 2015, so here we go.
2014 had me spending more time in Africa and on the road than I did at home, at least it seemed that way. The year kicked off in February with one of my favorite Thomson Safari adventures in Tanzania – the wildebeest calving. This time of the year is always an exciting because we are able to witness and photograph the births of literally thousands of newborn wildebeests. We also see the numerous predators that follow the herds of newborns and their parents, hoping for an easy meal.
Shortly thereafter I found myself in Namibia with Andy Biggs and Joshua Holko photographing the incredible landscapes in the oldest and tallest dunes in the world. This was my fourth trip to Namibia, and when it comes to desert landscapes, Namibia is absolutely numero uno! I will be returning in March 2015 to lead another Namibian landscape experience.
June found me back in Tanzania for the wildebeest rut safari, again with Thomson Safaris – and if you ask whether I like the calving more than the rutting, well, I just couldn’t say because both are incredible! With predators following the herds as they migrated across the plains to Kenya, we were afforded plenty of photographic opportunities then shared wonderful stories around the campfire as we recounted our daily adventures. I will be repeating this trip again in the May-June time frame of 2015.
August found me leading a photographic expedition to Iceland, the land of fire and ice. Trying to describe the landscapes of this island is simply beyond words. Check back after the first of the year for a new collection of photographs from this adventure. If Iceland is on your bucket list, I will be leading another expedition (or two) to Iceland in 2016 so stay tuned and let me know if you are interested.
In September I returned once again to Tanzania for the incredible great migration. During this trip we witnessed multiple wildebeest river crossings – always a spectacular event – and had numerous opportunities to photograph lions and leopards. The energy that surrounds the chaos of a river crossing must not be underestimated and it is one that must be experienced first-hand. As the wildebeest cross the Mara River, it is truly survival of the fittest as they face rapid river currents, angry hippos, and hungry crocodiles. Many of the wildebeests do not survive the mayhem.
October put me in Ethiopia photographing the tribes of the Omo Valley. This was one of the most humbling experiences of my photographic career because of the challenging roads, logistics, weather, and the people. However, I also am excited to repeat as soon as I can, so again, stay tuned. I can’t begin to describe what it was like to photograph these wonderful and caring tribal people of the Omo as they went about their daily lives. Being given unrestricted access to these people and invited to photograph and take part in their daily rituals made memories that will be with me for a long time. I can’t wait to return to work with these tribal members again, and I need to give special thanks to Piper MacKay for introducing me to these seldom-visited areas.
From October to late November I led two safaris into Botswana and co-led another safari with Grant Atkinson. As always, Eyes on Africa provided expert logistical support for two of the safaris and a new provider, Unlimited Safaris, provided the support for my first private camping safari. All three safaris produced wonderful photographic opportunities for leopards, lions and wild dogs. The highlights of these trips were seeing the gorgeous leopards and the packs of African Painted Dogs in full action as they hunted with the precision of a well-trained military unit. It was intense, high speed photography as we followed the dogs on chase after chase.
My third Botswana safari as co-leader with Grant Atkinson started in Maun with 17 of us taking a bush plane flight and landing at Nxabega. Our two days at Nxabega were filled with dogs and dogs and dogs. The African Painted Dog is a formidable killing machine. Usually hunting in both the morning and evening, they sport an 80 percent success rate in their chase to kill ratio. On our last morning before taking another bush flight to Sandibe, we witnessed the dogs make 7 antelope kills in 2 hours. They only missed once when they tried to chase a large kudu. I will be returning to Botswana next October for another photographic adventure sponsored by Muench Workshops.
A big highlight of the year was being invited to join the team of Muench Workshops, a small collection of very experienced professional photographers that lead workshops throughout the world. I think their tag line “one-of-a kind photography workshops at the coolest places on the planet” says it all. I am honored to be affiliated with David Muench, Mark Muench, and Andy Williams, and their wonderful team of photographers.
2015 will be another full year with highlights that include two safaris to Tanzania and Botswana, the landscapes of the Palouse, and the chimpanzees and mountain gorillas of Uganda and Rwanda. I also will be joining Joshua Holko in July as we journey far north into the Arctic to photograph polar bears. In addition, I am currently planning a very small expedition-type adventure into Ethiopia’s Omo Valley in November, once again to photograph the seldom-photographed Suri Tribe. Details and booking information on all of these trips can be found on my website blog. If you don’t see me leading a trip to an area that interests you, please drop me a line and I will share with you what I have planned for the future. Likewise, if you are interested in one of the trips that are fully booked, I will be happy to place you on a waiting list – you just never know.
As for equipment, I am still shooting Nikon and Hasselblad and recently invested in the Profoto B1 portable flash head for my work in Ethiopia. I also invested in the new Nikon 400 f/2.8 FL series lens and man, what a beauty it is!
Wishing you a healthy and prosperous 2015.
Join me on an adventure of a lifetime as we make incredible photographs along the way.
2015 Workshop / Travel Outlook –
Iceland – By Winter – February 11-18 (private safari)
Namibia – Overland Landscapes – March 12-22
Tasmania and New Zealand – April 2015 (Private Safari)
Tanzania – The Rut Migration – May 27-June 7
Washington State – Muench Workshops Landscapes of the Palouse – June 11-17 (limited openings)
Uganda and Rwanda – Chimpanzees and Mountain Gorillas – June 25 – 4 July 2015
Norway – Polar Bears – July 22 – 4 August
Botswana – Pure Botswana – September 2015 (FULLY BOOKED)
Tanzania – The Great Migration – September 19-30
Botswana – Muench Workshops Botswana Adventures – October 10-20
Ethiopia – Omo Valley Adventure Series – October – November (please inquire if interested – limited to 4 guests only)
2016 Teaser: Italy, Iceland plus many more.
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.