It is a very humbling experience in life when you meet people who you immediately connect with. Somehow you share the same values, interests, goals and passions. This was how my week started. Last Saturday, long standing Londolozi guest, Ted Swindon arrived to Londolozi with his 11 year old Godson, Hylton Royden-Turner. They had 1 goal. To view and photograph Leopards. They were here for 9 days and what exciting days they were. It began with a brief chat about where, what and how, and I quickly identified that Hylton was very passionate about photography and birds. But photography more-so. Ted had explained to me, over months of email conversations that they were here to view leopards but mainly for Hylton to be exposed to what this incredible wilderness has to offer and to learn and grow as a young budding photographer.
Hylton is from Pietermaritzburg, a small town, 1 hour inland from the east coast. He is a keen cricketer and enjoy sports all round, but his passion for wildlife is exponential. This young man, had me gobsmacked at his knowledge of animals but mainly birds. He grew up visiting the well renowned Kruger National park, where his passion for wildlife and photography blossomed. Ted therefore offered him the opportunity to join him on his annual safari with us.
The first day or 2 started off like any other safari with an excited, enthusiastic guest. The shutters were firing at every opportunity and information was flowing in and out of his mind as what he was witnessing before him was so overwhelming that it became difficult to step back and look at the bigger picture. But this eventually came to the foreground and on day 3 myself and Ted saw him begin to appreciate, question, hesitate and absorb. He started to capture the most incredible images as he took the time to view the animal, watch its behaviour, ask the right questions and capture the moment.
I chatted to Hylton in length during his stay and asked him at the end what he learnt from this experience. The things that came to the foreground were things like his improved knowledge on photography, exposure, f.stops, ISO and shutter speed, the use of manual and night photography. He also learnt about animals, their dynamics, movements and lifestyles. He learnt about life in the lodge, the relationships one builds, the kindness and the spirit that binds this place together. But the most important thing he learnt during his stay was patience.
We were tested, we were tried and we were patient. We sat for long hours on the vehicle searching for animals and when we found them we sat and waited. For hours on end and it paid off. This blog is for Hylton and to showcase some of his amazing images he captured with us. Over a 9 day period we managed to view 13 different leopards and most on more than 1 occasion. The pictures below are from 4 game drives of 18. Next week I will be doing a full run down on their trip!
Well done Hylton, to your future as a conservationist, a game ranger and a wildlife photographer.
Written by: Mike Sutherland
Photographed by: Hylton Royden-Turner (Londolozi Guest)