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.

Martini Madness Strikes Wilderness Safari Camps in Namibia

While leading a landscape photography workshop in Namibia, professional photographer Randy Hanna, stepped behind the bar to share his mixology knowledge with the staff. After a quick survey of the cold room in the kitchen, Randy began to assemble his components for the next evening’s class. With all of the ingredients and note pads in hand, plus special herbs from the local garden, the class began.Together, the team whipped up an entire suite of wonderful martinis including, ‘Apple Tini’, ‘Strawberry-Kiwi Tini’, ‘Orange – Cranberry Splash’, ‘Kalulu Cosmo’, and the most popular ‘Basil and Cucumber Martini.’ Before we knew it, a line had formed in front of the bar as  word spread among the staff and guests, with everyone having the benefit of trying some new concoctions. The last drink from the class was the ‘Midnight Kiss Matini’ (Kailua, Chocolate Liquor, and vodka), guaranteed to cross your eyes. The final exam was the bar staff replicating all of the drinks to Randy’s satisfaction and as Randy said, “Man, did they knock them out of the park!” You can follow Randy’s adventures and safaris at www.randyhannaphotography.com.

Randy Hanna Behind the Bar at Little Kulala

Cheers and Happy Photo’ing

Back Home from Namibia

Well, it has been about 15 days since I have returned from a killer landscape workshop that I led in Namibia. While I was gone, lots of things changed in my photo world. While it is always fun to return to Seattle and discover what little things changed, but man, change was everywhere around me upon my return. The big changes included:

1.  Nik Software is now available for $149.00 for the entire suite. Normally HDR or Viveza would cost this much alone. I use Nik products in just about every image that I process. I would suggest that you get it now, as we have no idea what Google will do with the product line.  You can get this software here.

2.  Nikon released a new, and much needed, 80-400mm Zoom. Still at an f-stop of 4.5-5.6, it sports a much faster focusing system, and Nano-crystal lens coating, making this a great safari lens for those that can’t justify the much more expensive 200-400mm.

3.  Nikon released the D7100, which returns another full stop or two more sensitive than the D7000.  Built as a pro-consumer body, this is a great camera for those interested in a 1.5 crop sensor.

4.  Posterious died with short notice. Posterious, the posting service that I used to post to my blog from the bush, was absorbed by Twitter about a year ago.  With 5 days notice, they folded their doors and left me searching for alternatives to support live blogging from the bush while I’m out on safari.

5.  The Hasselblad H5D series is now shipping to the US. After tons of trouble with the H4D series, this new release is the one that I have been waiting for. Better lens / body connections, new menu systems and weather-proofing make this a solid medium format camera that will last well into the future. I cant wait to get my hands on one.

6.  Last and certainly the least, is the big Adobe announcement for LR5. If the past trend of releases continues to be true, we might see a LR5 release by the end of June or July.  Looking at the LR5 Beta, the big improvements include:

  • Very powerful advance healing bush that allows for non-circular click and drag corrections
  • New Radial Filter for off-center vignetting and elliptical local adjustments
  • Upright in the Lens Corrections to automatically straighten photos and fix perspective
  • Smart Previews supporting off-line editing of photos
  • Grid and guide overlays for library, develop, and tethered captured
  • PNG file support
  • True fullscreen mode
  • Page numbering and layout saving in the Book Module
  • Videos can be included in slideshows
  • Windows HiDPI support
  • New smart collections criteria

I hope to release the final details on the Mountain Gorilla and Massai Mara safari (scheduled for early March), a June trip to Botswana, and Iceland in August, just as soon as I possibly can. If you are on my mailing list, you will receive advance notice of these safaris before they are posted on the web. As usual, space will be limited across all safaris, so start thinking about your desires.

I’ll post a few notes from Namibia before I depart for Tanzania again on the 12th of May, including Martini Madness. Meanwhile, I’m on the road heading to Atlanta to see my youngest daughter graduate with her second Masters. Rumor has it that she will soon be employed with a top notch consulting company in Washington DC.

Cheers and happy photo’ing

Na’ankuse Vist and Last Post for 12 Days

After traveling for so long, we scheduled a down today (HAPPY BIRTHDAY NICKI at EYES ON AFRICA) with a wonderful visit to Na’ankuse (meaning ‘God Watches Over Us’, in bushman) Wildlife Conservancy.  Starting off at 0600 hours, we took an hour drive to the conservancy and witnessed a killer African sunrise along the way.  We photographed Caracal, Lions, Cheetahs, and African Wild dogs.  Great fun for everyone and a wonderful experience.  Following a great lunch at the lodge, we returned late afternoon to the Galton House for some camera equipment cleanup and reset for our next adventure – the early morning flight to Wolwedans Dune Camp, then onward to several camps north, completed our trip at the most remote camps in Namiba, Serra Cafema.

Due to the remote locations that we will be visiting, I will not have any access to internet.  Time to unplug and take some photos.  I’ll start posting upon our return.

Cheer to all.

Views From The Airplane

Leaving SEATAC hurdling toward Frankfurt, Germany in an aluminum tube, some 37,000 feet in the air at a smooth 586mph, we were treated to a wonderful view of the Canadian Rockies as we started making our way across the pole.  Eight hours later approaching Germany, mother nature delivered another treat for us, a killer sunrise.  BTW, the Airbus A333 took 46 seconds from throttle up to rotation at 186mph.  For the second leg (Frankfurt to Johannesburg),  we will be flying the monster A380.  Seeing this aircraft side by side the Boring 747, the 747 is dwarfed by a considerable amount.

After stowing our bags in the Start Alliance Lounge, we are ready to hit the bonhauf (train) to downtown Frankfurt for some sightseeing.  I wonder what we will find.  Shooting through the window with my new Sony NEX-6,  frost, scratches and all;  I can tell you I love this little camera.

Sony NEX-6, Automatic Mode, 16-50mm Lens @ ~ 18mm

Sony NEX-6, Automatic Mode, 16-50mm Lens @ ~ 28 mm

Cheers and happy photo’ing

Photo of the Week – Namibia

Well I did miss a couple of weeks without posting my weekly images, so here is a nice treat from Namibia – a place that I long to return to.  This image was take during our flight from Sera Cafema to Sossuvlia.  Sossusvlei lies in the Namib Naukluft Park in the heart of the Namib desert and is home to the the highest sand dunes in the world.  Considered by many to be one of the ‘must see’ places in the world, I am looking forward to returning as soon as I can.

Cheers and happy photoing

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.

Remote Namibia

The sand dunes of Northern Namibia, while inhospitable, can produce some very spectacular imagery.  As a photographer, I had to work very hard to capture in digits, what my eyes could seen.  While the advances of modern digital cameras have been nothing short of spectacular, they are still a long way from the dynamic range of the human eye.  The image below was taken in Northern Namibia, deep in the dunes, looking north directly toward Angola.

Sunrise in the Dunes of Namibia

Nikon D300, 17-55mm VR at 38mm, ISO 200, f/10 at 1/100 sec

Cheers and happy photo’ing


Photo of the Week

The Sands of Namibia

Nikon D300, 17-55 @ 17mm, ISO 200, f10 at 1/160 sec

Deep in the sand dunes of Namibia, I was presented with a rolling light show of highlights and shadows as the sun rose from my left.  With the camera having significantly less dynamic range than the human eye, it is always a challenge to record an image that depicts, as close as possible, the scene as it was seen by the eye.  As many of you know, I am a technical shooter.  Shooting in the deserts of Namibia was truly a personal and technical challenge for me which resulting in pushing my photography skills to a new level.  Amidst a sea of sand, I worked hard to incorporate an artistic approach in many of my images.  I found myself paying a great deal of attention to lines, shapes, highlights and shadows to tell the image story.  Thanks to JP Caponigro and Andy Biggs for pushing me into this artistic journey!

This image is a good example of the use of hyperfocal distance knowledge to achieve the desired zone of focus.    Using hyperfocal tables, I was able to determine that focusing on the sand, 10 ft in front of me, the hyperfocal distance would be 5.37 feet (using f10 and the D300 at 17mm), resulting in a near focus limit of 3.48 feet and a far focus limit of infinity.  After determining these values, I simply reset the focus to 5 feet and shot.  To make all of this easier, I now use an iPod for my hyperfocal distance calculations rather than lugging around 10 pages of tables.  Thank you Mr. Apple.

Cheers and happy photo’ing