In the month of March, Londolozi is showcasing some of our best photography and photographers alike. This five-part blog series will take readers behind some stunning imagery and discuss how the shot came to be. The episodes will delve into the stories behind images and the people who capture them. In this process, we’ll be highlighting some tips and tricks that we hope will inspire you when capturing imagery of your own.
Photography series episode 5 and our final piece of the series will look at Sean Zeederberg – the face of Londolozi’s virtual safari. He is the man behind Londolozi’s camera, the one you see when you’re at home reminiscing over past joy in the wilderness. He is also responsible for curating the week in pictures that is released on the blog every Friday. Initially Sean was a ranger and in April 2021 moved into a content creation position. He is now a digital storyteller, blog editor and the onsite photographer and videographer.
In his new role Sean does not host guests on his vehicle. He was disheartened by this but also considered it beneficial. Because it allows him to have the singular focus of capturing video and photo content.
I’m now able to spend more time with animals and it has helped to gain a better understanding of the way certain animals go about their daily life.
My job is to go out there and capture animals in their natural state, and that takes time. It is incredible to get to know these animals. Just letting them go about their lives in my presence and spending time in nature.
This is a point of view that Sean has added to his previous experience as a ranger. Where his sole focus was on creating an experience for a guest in person. Whilst he still works to create a guest experience, it’s now a virtual experience and he has more time to curate the story.
Having been a ranger I feel that my predictive instinct in nature is heightened. I have learnt how animals work and now have ample one-on-one time to really dive into their existence. And I get to do it with multiple cameras and time to experiment.
Stitching photographs in Lightroom
On a crisp Autumn morning, Sean headed on a game drive in search of the Nkoveni Female leopard and her two daughters. It had been an incredible couple of days with the leopards. The day before Sean had sat with the two cubs and watched them play through the morning. The only limiting factor arose when all his memory cards were filled and no more footage could be captured of the cubs. And so he was left with one thing to do, watch an incredible interaction between two cubs unfold.
He decided he had to return to them the next day. After locating tracks of two young leopards and an hour of following up, he found both of Nkoveni’s daughters sitting at a water hole. As one of the leopards would relax, the other would sneak through the grass and leap on her sister and this process was repeated for hours. In order to escape the fun and games one of the cubs, now tiring, scaled a large dead Knobthorn tree.
A stunning young female with a very similar spot pattern to her mother, the Nkoveni Female. Litter still completely intact March 2022.
Sean had built a wealth of video footage of the two leopards and now he had the capacity to get a little creative. He was no more than fifteen metres away from the leopard and as he was shooting with a fixed 300mm lens he could not adequately capture the scene. In this scenario, most photographers would opt to focus on a close-up portrait shot but Sean decided to think a little out of the box.
Stitching in Lightroom can be likened to crochet. You create individual squares of material and join them into a large blanket. Stitching allows a photographer to capture multiple photos of a scene and (as long as each image overlaps) combine them into one photograph. The result is that you can put incredible detail into imagery. In this case, Sean captured 21 images of the Nkoveni Young Female leopard and the scene that surrounded her. He combined the shots to capture an incredibly detailed image of the scene.
The jack of all trades
As Sean’s role centres around capturing video content for the Londolozi brand, he has access to incredible equipment. And the equipment has a vast array of variety. From macro lenses to a 600mm lens and everything in between.
Sometimes I find myself in a vehicle with three camera’s recording. I may even be recording audio at the same time. Therefore, I need to know my equipment to be able to do this. You’ll be adjusting settings on different cameras whilst trying to follow an animal moving about, it can get chaotic.
An added challenge is that I’m constantly switching between videography and photography on cameras. I need to be able to adjust my settings and do it fast. Sometimes I will have a second or two to capture a shot before I need to be back in video mode.
I aim to bring as much detail into my imagery as possible. And stitching is just one of many ways that I achieve this. I also can tell a story in very different ways through the different lenses and equipment that I use.
As my role is focused toward an online audience I capture imagery with them in mind. I firmly believe that if you do something that you love with passion then people will be more receptive to it. I have attempted to keep my genuine voice running through my work and our Londolozi audience seems to be receptive to this.
Tricks of the trade
Sean offered advice that he had learnt through his various roles at Londolozi. Each role etched perspective into his holistic photographic thought process.
Firstly, and it’s an overused view that’s overlooked by most photographers, ‘understand your gear’. Whilst a basic understanding will suffice, the more you know, the more you can do. Rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it, or in this case not know it.
Secondly it’s easy to learn the simple fundamentals of photography, watch a youtube video, or read an article. Make sure that the foundation you build on with photography is well grounded.
Finally to always have a story coursing through your interaction with animals. The moment when a leopard makes eye contact with you, or capturing an animal’s foot in the air to show movement when it walks. These moments are special and an image can cement it in time.
Concluding the photography series
As fast as March arrived, so it passed and with it concluded Londolozi’s photographic series. Whilst tips and tricks were shared, the point of the series lay in unearthing the perspectives of our photographers. Revealing the story of how a shot came to be. And highlighting how different people go about capturing imagery. When an artist breaks from fixed bounds, when they dare to wade through uncharted waters, they find true perfection in their unique creation. But in order to take these steps, one must first understand their field intricately. Only then do you know how to break the bounds of photography. And your hidden message to the world becomes clear in the 1000 words you craft into your image.
Learn more about Photographic Safari
At Londolozi, wildlife photography holds an important place. We use it as a way to reconnect with nature, with the animals that inhabit the Game Reserve with us. This is why this article isn’t the only one we written in this photography series. If ever you want to learn more about wildlife photography, please feel free to consult:
- Photography Series episode 1: The Ranger’s eye
- Photography Series Episode 2: Generations through the lens
- Photography series episode 3: People in nature
- Photography Series Episode 4 – Country and Critters
If you want to know what wildlife photography is at Londolozi, check out our Photographic Safari experience page! Or find our what our ranger Nick Simms had to say about his experiences in photography
My pleasure Ian!