I am sitting outside on my ‘stoep’ (the South African equivalent of a porch, or verandah) trying to write down my thoughts to give some context to the photographs that I have chosen for this week’s TWIP. In any other situation, I would probably have the sound of traffic to contend with, or of neighbours getting up and ready for work- all the while hearing mechanical sounds that displease or distract me from writing. Instead, the sounds that fill my head are those of the birdsong in the bush just in front of my room- sometimes so loud, and in such great numbers that it has been difficult to draw my concentration back into writing this.
Then I sit back and realize how incredibly lucky I am (and how lucky we all are) to have something like this as a ‘problem’, and to wake up in an environment such as I do every morning- where a world of possibilities await… especially the photographic kind. So, this week, I wanted to share a mixed bag of memories that really represent my gratitude for being here, and for what I get to experience each day.
I hope that you enjoy this Week in Pictures…
A ‘stoep’ with a view, where the birdsong can roar like the waves of the ocean in your ears. Nikon D750; Sigma 24mm; ISO640, f/1.4, 1/4000
This first set of photographs was taken during an early morning drive with Amy Attenborough. Something you might not know about me is that I am both hugely respectful and incredibly terrified of elephants. I find their size intimidating and their intelligence somewhat dwarfing. Amy offered to take me out to sit with a herd to help me feel more comfortable around them, and to chat about their behaviour and how to read them. These images represent the deep sense of comfort I eventually felt in their presence.
We rarely get the light to hit an elephant’s eye at the right level so as to show off the beautiful amber colour, and the blue ring around their eye. Coming eyeball to eyeball with an elephant was a big step forward for me, while an unheard conversation took place between the two of us. Nikon D750; Nikkor 80-400mm; ISO 800; f/5.6; 1/250
We sat quietly just watching this herd go about their business. This young elephant was trying to emulate its older sibling, using the combination of trunk and foot to pick what was left of the grass. He was eventually successful but his need for more practice was apparent. Nikond D750; Nikkor 80-400mm; ISO 800; f/5.6; 1/1250
The picture of success- the older elephant in this herd was adept at picking grass, roots and stems with her trunk. Nikon D750; Nikkor 80-400mm; ISO 800; f/5.6; 1/1000
You can seek joy and happiness wherever you are. The way the lip of this elephant flopped over her trunk made her look like she was smiling about some secret joke. The black and white contrast of the skin and tusk was also what drew me to picking this photograph. Nikon D750; Nikkor 80-400mm; ISO 800; f/5.6; 1/1000
We watched this elephant for ages, fastidiously chewing off the cambium layer from this branch. Nikon D750; Nikkor 80-400mm; ISO 800; f/5.6; 1/800
James Tyrrell has already shared his story of this sighting of the Tsalala pride feeding off a buffalo mere meters away from the Varty Camp deck. After being woken up suddenly by the bellowing sound of footsteps in flight and the shouts of “lions killing a buffalo off Varty deck! Hurry!” I grabbed my camera case (prepared and ready for any eventuality, just as a doctor’s medical bag might be in case of an emergency) and ran over to be treated to some of the most thrilling game viewing I have had in a while… yet another reason to be grateful that I live where I do!
This was something quite unusual to see. The buffalo was still alive at this stage, and yet the cubs were already on their way out to see what the possibilities were of feeding on the kill. Nikon D750; Nikkor 80-400mm; ISO 1600; f/5.6; 1/80
This shot of the cub’s bloody face is testament to the speed at which they are growing up, and shows scenes of what they might be like as fully grown adults in the future. Nikon D750; Nikkor 80-400mm; ISO 2000; f/5.6; 1/200
A reminder of the pecking order when on a fresh kill, one of the older lionesses snaps at a cub. Nikon D750; Nikkor 80-400mm; ISO 2000; f/5.6; 1/160
I was sitting on the floor, shooting through the railing of Varty Camp deck, and captured this shot of the guests experiencing something that they might only get to see once in their lifetimes. Nikon D750; Nikkor 80-400mm; ISO 2000; f/5.6; 1/640
While growing up fast, these cubs will still find any opportunity to play. They were very aware of us, however, turning their attention on us mid-wrestle. Nikon D750; Nikkor 80-400mm; ISO 3200; f/5.6; 1/2000
Bird photography and wildlife photography is often seen as the most difficult form of the art… which I agree with. But you can decrease a lot of the difficulty by knowing your gear extremely well, trusting your gear and by brushing up on the fundamentals when it comes to settings.
A tawny eagle that we had the pleasure of spending time with a week or so ago. We predicted that he would take flight and the preparation in speeding up my shutter speed and trusting my D750’s capabilities at a high ISO allowed me to get this shot in very dark, overcast conditions. Nikkor 80-400; ISO 4000; f/5.6; 1/4000
The most photographed bird in the bush and one of the most difficult ones to capture in flight. This was another example of preparing for the shot that you want. We discussed and waited for its next move, and plugged in the settings accordingly. Nikon D750; Nikkor 80-400mm; ISO 2500; f/5.6; 1/4000
On a very cold and dreary afternoon, this lilac-breasted roller sat on a drooping branch, giving the impression that it was about to dip into the only other splash of colour- the setting sun. Nikon D750; Nikkor 80-400mm; ISO 3200; f/5.6; 1/800
I loved this scene of a Sjambok-pod tree contrasted against the grey sky and the stark landscape. This was, in fact, the very tree that inspired Amy’s beautiful post on The Bloom. Nikon D750; Nikkor 80-400mm; ISO 1250; f/4.5; 1/4000
A close-up of the Sjambok-pod flowers- beautiful in their rich, sunny colour. Nikon D750; Nikkor 80-400; ISO 1600; f/5.6; 1/4000
This final set represents some of the moments we get to share with our Londolozi family. With our 90th anniversary celebration in full swing, it’s hard not to get a bit mushy about how fabulous it is to work with the people that I do. From my friend Andrea whose smile can literally light up a dark day, to my friends on the guiding team who are so evidently passionate about what they do. I even had the privilege of bearing witness to one of the biggest days in Chef Amy Johnsen’s life so far, as she prepped, cooked, presented and passed her Silwood grand diploma exam. I’m reminded that magic can take many forms, and that something -or someone- extraordinary may be standing right next to you.
Londolozi Ranger Andrea Sithole has a chuckle as the trainee ranger taking our staff training drive cut him off by mistake. What this photograph couldn’t capture was the infectious sound and body shake of Andrea’s chuckle. Nikon D750; Nikkor 80-400; ISO 1250; f/5.6; 1/500
Rangers Greg Pingo, Kevin Power and Don Heyneke providing endless entertainment out in the wilderness for both guests and staff.
I had the privilege of shooting Chef Amy Johnsen’s grand diploma exam. Food photography is another passion of mine (along with the actual making of the food) and so I snuck a few of these shots into this TWIP… just as a little something beautiful to end off with. Kind of like dessert. All photographs shot with a D750 and Sigma 24mm Art Lens
Thanks for the comment, Jeff!