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.

June Safari Update – Day 8

June Safari Update – Day 8
June 8, 2014

Today was our full day in the Ngorongoro Crater. An early rise greeted us with heavy cloud and a misty decent into the floor of the crater. Not more than 10 minutes into the trip, we found four huge male lions and four females and an added bonus of a pair of young cubs. Although they were playing just out of camera range, it was a great sight to see. We continued along our way photographing the landscapes of the crater, as well as flamingos, zebras, jackals (golden and silver back), and Cape Buffalos. We worked hard to locate the rhinos however, they would not cooperate so we returned to camp for wonderful African dinner and an evening around the campfire. As a highlight, the kitchen staff baked a birthday cake for Jeff. What a surprised look he had on his face when he figured out what was going on.

Early morning storm in the Ngorongoro Crater.  Nikon D800, 24-70 @ 24mm

Nikon D4, 200-400mm f/4, @ 330mm; ISO 200, 1/250 sec at f/7.1.   B&W conversion in NIK Software.

Tomorrow, we are off the Gibbs Farm to end our safari on a very high note. With lots of activities planed for Gibbs, it will be a full day.

Cheers and happy photo’ing

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

Safari Upday Day 1 – Tanzina

19 May

After collecting the clients from the airport the previous evening, it was time for a leisurely breakfast followed by the safari briefing on how things would work on the trip. Before we knew it, we were off the Gibbs Farm. Traveling though the farmland, we soon found ourselves in the sprawling city of Mto Wa Mbu. As we passed the entrance to Lake Manraya, the extensive flooding damage from heavy rains was evident everywhere as we started our climb up the escarpment of the Rift Valley. Arriving at Gibbs Farm, we were treated to a wonderful organic hot lunch. Gibbs Farm continues to impress me with their continuous improvements; not that they needed any. Following our leisurely lunch, we were off to the Ngorongoro Crater. After a quick stop at the view point for an incredible view of the worlds largest intact caldera, we heading to the local Maasai village. We learned about the Maasai way of life and admired their bead work and a few of us had to shop.

While inside the boma, I worked with several of the clients on selective focusing. I really love photographing the intricate bead work.

Nikon D3X, 7–200mm f/2.6 @ 200mm, ISO 320, f/7.1 at  1/1000 sec

Prior to our departure, I gathered up a couple of the Massai warriors for some portrait work. I set up the the scene and talked the clients through aperture selection and subject placement. As part of the discussion, I present the two photos below. The first image is a typical ¾ head and shoulder shot. As we discussed placing your subject in the environment, Abigal Rosenblum took the instructions to heart and produced the outstanding image below. By using effective subject placement and making use of the background, she created a very nice environmental portrait. Great job Abbi. Off to our camp on the rim of the crater for a great night’s sleep in anticipation of our first full day of wildlife viewing in the Ngorongoro Crater.

Nikon D3x, 70-200mm f/2.8, @ 200mm, ISO 320, f/7.1 at 1/80 sec

Photo by Abigal Rosenblum, Nikon D700

Cheers and happy photo’ing, live blogging from the bush in Tanzania


During one of my visits to the Serengeti and the Massai Mara Plains, I followed this large male lion around for a while.  While I was in hopes of getting an image with some really harsh back lighting, the sun and camera angles never really worked out.  Just before we decided to depart the area, he turned directly to me and presented me with a simple portrait. Back at the camera tent, I took a look at the image and suddenly I realized just how much pain this fellow must have been in.  Looking closely, you can see a massive amount of ticks on his face and those crazy fairly flies are biting his nose to the point that they are bringing blood.  All the time, he just sits there and takes it in stride.  And we think we have bad days?

Feb 2010  Nikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8, ISO 250, 1/125 sec at f/10

Cheers and happy photo’ing

The Maasai Legend of the Sun and Moon

Every time I go on safari to Kenya or Tanzania I make a serious effort to spend some quality time with the Maasai, mostly the warriors.  With just a little bit of coaxing and some good ‘ole southern charm, they will open up to you and before you know it, you will soon be learning all sorts of wonderful facts and folk lore about their way of life.  For a quick and fun read giving you a glimpse into a young man’s transition from a Maasai child, to life in the western world, give Facing the Lion: Growing up Maasai on the African Savanna (National Geographic) by Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton a read.  It is a rather fast read however it is a truly amazing story about a boy growing up with his Maasai people in Kenya, and later – through incredible twists and turns in his life – comes to the United States for college, all the time never abandoning his African roots.

According to the Maasai, there is a reason why the sun is so bright, which they tell in the following folk tale:

Long ago the sun married the moon but one day they fought and the moon struck the sun on the head. Of course, the sun hit back, and damaged the moon. When they had finished fighting, the sun was so ashamed of his battered face that he became so dazzlingly bright that humans could not regard him without half-closing their eyes. The moon, however, was not in the least bit ashamed and anyone looking at her can clearly see that her mouth is cut and one of her eyes is missing.

2014 Photo Safari Schedule

Safaris for 2014:
1. Rwanda – Gorillas in the Mist 1 Jan thru 8 Jan  DETAILS ARE POSTED HERE. Trip completed, full trip report in draft.
2. Tanzania – The Great Migration – Feb 15-25, 2014   TRIP IS FULL
3. Chile – Torres del Paine – March 2014,  Adventure Series Only*
4. Tanzania – The Great Rut – May 31 – June 10, 2014. Some openings remain.
5. Iceland – The Land of Fire and Ice – 10-19 Aug 2014 – DETAILS ARE POSTED HERE  Strictly limited to 8 participants, 4 openings.
6. Tanzania – Fall Migration – Sept 16-25, 2014 – DETAILS ARE POSTED HERE
7. Botswana – November 13-22, 2014 – DETAILS ARE POSTED HERE.

Looking forward to 2015:
Namibia – Landscapes of a Lifetime – April or May 2015- Details will be released in March of 2014.
Tanzania – The Great Rut
Tanzania – Fall Migration
Botswana – Adventure on the River
Lots More to Come So Stay Tuned.

*Adventure Series – Open only to previous clients and those who are willing to travel in conditions that require maximum flexibility as we explore new areas.

Tortillis – Dust Bowl

Tortillis means dust in Maasai,  and during our visit we certainly had no shortage of dust.  It was at Tortillis that I saw and photographed my first mirage.  Mirages are tricks of the atmosphere, optical illusions caused when a layer of air next to the ground becomes superheated from heat stored in the soil or in dark pavement. The boundary between this hot – and therefore less dense – air and the cooler, denser air above it bends the light rays that strike it, acting like a giant mirror or lens held parallel to the ground.  Water mirages paint lakes across parched desert sands, deluding desert travelers.  Having traveled the dry beds of Tortillis, I would hate to find myself in a situation where I was mentally incapable of recognizing the mirage for what it is.  Looking at the image below, you can see the “lake reflection” or mirage just below the horizon.  Trust me, there is no water out there!

Tortillis Dust Bowl and Mirage

Nikon D3s, 70-200 mm f2.8, ISO 200, f/10 at 1/320 sec

Returning from swamps of Tortillis National Park, a small head of elephants make their way across the dry lake bed toward the forests of Tanzania.

Elephant family heading toward Tanzania

Nikon D3, 200-400mm @ 400,  f/4, ISO 320, f/8.o at 1/320 sec (hand held)

Image captured HERE


Cheers and happy photo’ing