From The Crater to Gibb's Farm

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

Safari Update

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.

Safari Update 2 June - Lion Hotel

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 - 

 The Lion Hotel

The Lion Hotel

Photo Safari - Tanzania

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

Tanzania in May – The Great Rut Season

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.

2014 Wrap-Up and Adventure Summary

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.

Randy Hanna

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.

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’

(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.

Randy

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.

Cheers and looking forward to posting from the bush.

Randy

Last Minute Opening for September 2014 Photo Safari

A last minute cancellation on my September photo safari to Tanzania has created an opening for a couple or two singles sharing.

Contact Andrew at Thomson Safaris (1-800-235-0289) if you are interested in joining me on a killer memory making adventure.

Cheers and happy photo’ing

June Safari Update – Day 7

June Safari Update – Day 7
June 7, 2014

We broke camp today just as the sun started coming through the clouds. Our home for four nights, Robanda Camp and the wonderful staff, coupled with an incredible location and stunning views, was simply hard to leave.  Bidding our farewells to the staff, we were off to the Ngorongoro Crater and our next chapter of our safari.  Driving through the Serengeti, the Wildebeest population exploded all around us. With three days of heavy rains, we saw first hand, the explosion of fresh green grass shoots. Following a very dry spring, this was just what the animals needed.  We stopped briefly at Nobi Gate to take in a killer view of the endless plains of the Serengeti.  As we said so long to the Serengeti, we headed for an educational stop at Oldupai Gorge where we learned all about the archeological significance of this site.  After lunch we were off the the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater.  On the way to our camp, we paused at a local Maasai Village for a bit of an education on how the Maasai live.  At the end of the village visit, I gathered up several of the Maasai warriors as models for some instructions on field portraits.  Lessons that we covered at this location included how to keep the distant horizons from going directly through the head and or necks of the warriors as well as how to balance your exposures between the sky and the dark skin color of the warriors.

Randy giving Don some recommendations on framing the photograph.  Photo by Jeff Paradiso

After a wonderful meal at our campsite located on the rim of the crater, it was time for bed in prep for an early rise tomorrow as we explore the Ngorongoro Crater for the entire day.

Cheers and happy photo’ing

Live Blogging from the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater made possible by XCOM GLOBAL International.