About the Author

Bruce Arnott

Field Guide

Bruce grew up on a plot of farmland in the midlands of KwaZulu-Natal. He always had a passion for the bush and the outdoors, having been camping and fishing since he was a young boy. He attended school in the Natal midlands after ...

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18 Comments

on My Four-Month No-Camera Experiment

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Marinda Drake
Master Tracker

This is all so true. We are always trying to take as many photos as possible. Although it is exciting to look back and remember the wonderful moments captured in the bush. The opposite is to remember the moments spend in nature and to just enjoy the animals, trees, flowers, sunrises and sunsets. It is all just memories, digital or in your mind.

Bruce Arnott
Field Guide

Thank you for your comment Marinda, I’m glad it resonated with you!

Mj Bradley
Explorer

I agree, it is most important to put down the camera’s and let yourself enjoy the raw beauty of the bush.

Bruce Arnott
Field Guide

Thank you Mj, I agree! To me, however, balance is the key!

Joanne Wadsworth
Senior Digital Ranger

You made so many insightful truths, Bruce. Not taking your camera for four months had to be a challenge … but just like a coin, there are always two sides of the subject. I try hard to put my camera down … to soak up the moment with my internal camera rolling for memory sake. But then my passion for photography overtakes me as my inner voice whispers, “Take the picture, Joanne….hurry!” The answer to the two sides is so individual. I seem to have my foot planted a bit on each side of that fence and it’s made me very happy. Easy for me to say I suppose … I live believing that there’s always another opportunity waiting ahead to pause and later click. In the end, Carpe Diem fully, which ever side you choose.

Bruce Arnott
Field Guide

Joanne thank you for a wonderful and thorough response! As you say, it is best to have a foot on both sides, to find that balance, so that you don’t leave the bush having not really ‘seen’ everything this place has to offer! Thanks!

Charles Smith
Explorer

Great post. It took me almost our entire trip to let go of the need to capture everything on a camera, but once I did, it was a better trip.

Bruce Arnott
Field Guide

Hi Charles! I’m happy my thoughts here rung true for you. I could see how much you appreciated the animals and that’s what the essence of safari is! Hope you guys are doing well!

Judith Guffey
Senior Digital Ranger

I will try tolook more on my next visit. A ranger at Londo once suggested to all of us in the vehicle that we should try seeing without our cameras for a while.

Bruce Arnott
Field Guide

Hi Judith, looking more may be something to try. Sometimes you have to do it consciously! Good luck!

Mary Beth Wheeler
Digital Tracker

An interesting idea, Bruce. I tried to remember to put down the camera and just observe – not in a disciplined way, but often enough to agree with your conclusions. Then again, you have the luxury of being in the bush daily rather than for a short safari where capturing that ‘best shot’ is capturing a memory!

Bruce Arnott
Field Guide

I completely agree Mary Beth, and that’s why there is no right and wrong here, no perfect way to do things. You’ve got to just know inside your mind what the best way for yourself is!

Wendy Macnicol
Explorer

I SO agree with you, Bruce. I can remember sightings in minute details that were very special sightings. I have them in my old Memory Box. The atmosphere and stillness of the Bush – a passing butterfly – and the centre-piece of a young Bull Elephant with his trunk across the bonnet of a landrover where I was sitting! And just before this a mother giraffe chasing her youngster round and round a large bush just after rain. If I had been fiddling with the camera, I would have lost so much of the actual picture and atmosphere of those particular scenes. But now I can bring them back so easily – from memory. However – having said that – I also so enjoy seeing other people’s sightings. What excellent photography! I have so many Screensavers now from my daily pics from Londolozi that make me so happy when I view them. My friends sit and watch them and are awed! Don’t stop! Well done to you all at Londolozi. Wendy M

Bruce Arnott
Field Guide

Hi Wendy, thank you for the comment and your descriptions of sightings you have had in the bush. I’m glad that you have had these positive experiences out here! I also agree that there is need for a balance, photography is incredible and serves a very important purpose!

Denise Vouri
Digital Tracker

What you have written is so true. Oftentimes whilst on Safari, the mindset is to be ready to shoot. Cameras have been cleaned, settings in place, bean bags positioned, and then breathing anticipation of what you will find during the game drive. First time safari guests tends to do all of the above as it can be viewed as a once in a lifetime holiday – no fault in that, yet sometimes they miss the big picture, seeing in total and not just through a viewfinder or the back of an iPhone.
After my first safari a couple of decades ago, I put my camera down on the space next to me and just observed everything around me until there was a moment that I believed was worth capturing. It was freeing and I enjoyed my second trip so much more.

After a few safaris now, I try to find the balance between just being in the moment and picking up my camera to capture an image that makes me happy, providing lasting memories of that encounter.

Wonderful subject explored thoughtfully by you.

Bruce Arnott
Field Guide

Hi Denise, thank you very much for the comment! I am happy that you are willing and keen to find that important balance!

Ian Hall
Senior Digital Ranger

Ah Bruce, I remember Ektachrome and if I could get the same sort of results on digital as I could with Ektachrome , I would be happy.

Michael & Terri Klauber
Digital Tracker

Bruce, We know it must have been hard to not get that “shot” for 4 months! It is a reminder though that being “in the moment” is the best part of the safari experience!

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