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

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.

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.


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 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.

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.

June Safari Update – Day 6

June Safari Update – Day 6
June 6, 2014

Having weathered two days of rain and two nights of heavy storms, the weather gave us a wonderful break today. Departing the camp, it was a wonderful sunrise with wildebeests everywhere. As we made our way to the Ikoma Gate, the animals were on the move to the areas that were freshly burnt (controlled burning) in hunt of fresh green growth that the rains will bring.

The clouds were simply incredible as we drove toward the central Serengeti. I borrowed an IR camera from Jeff and took a few landscapes along the way. Our treats today included more lions, another Cheetah, and on the way back to camp, two of the rigs photographed a number of lions with 12 cubs, all out in the open playing and having a great time.  At this point, we have given up counting our cat sightings -  too many to count.

I returned back to camp early so Jeff and I could use the drone to do some camp fly-bys and some overhead wildebeest shots for use in a future movie. More to follow on this effort, so keep an eye out.

Tomorrow it is a bit of a road trip as we head to the Ngorongoro Crater.

Canon EOS 50D (converted to IR), 24mm, ISO 400, 1/800 at f/8.0

Cheers and happy photo’ing

Live Blogging from the Serengeti made possible by XCOM GLOBAL International.

Safari Update – Day 2 – 18 Feb 2014

NOTE:  Communication Error.  As hard as I tried to blog live from the bush, the guys that live in the cell towers just would not let it happen.  While my XCom Global device could see the towers, there was never a connection that would allow for live blogging, other than the one hit I had on the floor of the crater.  As  result, I will be playing catch up with daily summaries upon my return.  In hind site, I’m sort of glad this happened.  Rather than spending time in the camera tent working up images for the next daily posting, I found myself sitting around the campfire or in the lounge tent hang’in out with my clients.

Safari Day 2
18 Feb 2014
Ngorongoro Crater
0600, 60 F Cloudy skies, burning off by mid morning with showers in the afternoon

Early to rise with excitement in the air as we prepared to descend into the crater floor shortly after sunrise. As always the descent was magical and the game viewing an eye-opener for everyone. 9 Black Rhinos, multiple female lions with three different litters of cubs, and of course the giant bull elephants in the distance. A field lunch was served near the hippo pool and photography was the buzz of the meal. Later in the afternoon a storm system blew through parts of the crater driving many of the visitors to leave early. We of course, stayed for the entire day and found additional lions and numerous zebras fighting. Before we knew it, we were heading back to our camp with lots of photographs and stories of our wildlife viewing.

For some reason, seeing the Maasai Warriors using cell phones and digital cameras makes me smile. Some sort of ying and yang thing I guess or maybe it is the old world meeting the new. This Warrior picked up a camera and used it like a pro.

The rolling hills on the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater change as the light changes. From deep shadows to highlights on the ridge line, they are a light show all unto themselves.

As with all evening meals, we go around the table with everyone recounting their personal highlights from the day. Tonight the table talk was all about first contact with the wildlife and the incredible scenery and the first lion sighting along with the 9 Rhinos.

Cheers and happy photo’ing