Hello hello,

As mentioned in my earlier post How BIG is your Africa, I had a visit from my parents and sister in January and one of the definite highlights was visiting the world famous National Parks in northern Tanzania on a 3 and a half day safari. As you might now from reading this blog before, I’ve taken up the hobby of amateur photography since buying a DSLR camera last Christmas. It’s been a lot of fun and with some mixed results thus far but one thing for sure is that this time in Tanzania has been amazing for the learning process. The technical aspects of photography are still very much a work in progress.. good lighting, proper aperture, white balance, etc. need a lot of work and I’ve realized I don’t have much patience for a lot of this, at least not yet.  I’ve also realized that I truly don’t enjoy photographing people, especially here in TZ… I just have trouble shaking this touristy, exploitive feeling when I bring out the camera. If anyone has some good hints on people photography and this whole situation do share. While this inability to take out the camera for these moments has led to plenty of missed opportunities for great photographs which I know that I would love to have looking back years from now, I guess sometimes you just need to enjoy the moment for what it is and soak it up not worrying about capturing everything with the camera. What I have really enjoyed is the “eye” for composing the pictures and capturing the moments and spaces. Luckily, nature and wildlife don’t care too much about me snapping away so that has been the focus of my photography experimentation thus far. We shall see where it all goes – trying to do a little reading and learning on the more technical aspects and learn a little from the pros in books and online but for the most part I think I like keeping things pretty amateur and relaxed.

Anyways, enough of that on to the real show. I’ve decided to present some of my favourite shots from the safari and do my best to try and capture how really amazingly beautiful this part of the country is. I tried to pick a selection of some favourites for some more artsy photo reasons and others just cause of the animals/natural beauty and what not. I give a little background and reasoning with each selection as well- I hope it doesn’t come across wrong and I certainly may have no idea what I am talking about in some cases – but – the beauty of having my own blog is I am allowed this rambling so just play along.  As mentioned in the title, it’s going to be an inevitable failure as the pictures never seem to do the experience justice, but enjoy the attempt regardless and let me know what you think!

Cheers,

Dan

Long days on long dusty roads

This picture is from Lake Manyara NP. No animals in sight but I think it captured a lot of the safari experience…riding along the dirt roads and just enjoying the  bright blue sky and scenery around us. I also like how the dirt road curves through the shot and gives you the feeling you are on that road and going somewhere.

Babar, King of the Elephants

We came across this elephant in Lake Manyara standing right beside the road eating and he didn’t mind us sitting a few metres away watching.  Nothing too special about this picture, but I liked the timing of how the elephant is curling the trunk into his mouth and you can still see the grass.

and you thought you could hide from the zoom lens

This picture is also from Lake Manyara NP and happened right at dusk as we were on our way out of the park and suddenly came across two lioness’ in the bush. It was a tricky shot requiring some serious steady hands as the low light and full telephoto zoom to get this close. Despite a bit of blur, I liked how it turned out in the end though as the bushes framing the shot give you the feeling you are peering through just as we were and the lioness stares right back.

Serengeti scratching post

I have to say that I think this was my favourite photo from the trip in the end. It features the young elephant at a fun moment as he used the yellow barked acacia tree as a scratching post for an itchy trunk as its focal point. The reason that I like it most is how it captures the feeling of the Serengeti. The wide open grass lands, the “yellow fever tree” acacia trees, the huge colourful sky. The small size of the elephant in the frame helps you to feel the size of the place. It looks better blown up to full size but this will have to do.

Mufasa looks up from an afternoon nap

This photo was taken shortly after we entered the Serengeti. We ended up seeing lots close to 30 something lions by the end of the trip but this one was a bit more special because we were the only ones to find him going off on a side path and managing to spot him lying in the grass while other vehicles drove on by. The downside of the national parks in northern Tanzania is their popularity leads to some pretty big crowds during tourist seasons so a more intimate encounter such as this made it all the better. Not too much special about the photo itself, but everyone likes to see the famous bushy lion mane so I figured I should post it.

Sunrise in over the Serengeti

I really enjoyed how this sunrise picture came out. The low level of exposure makes some nice outlines of the trees and woodlands as you really don’t need to see any detail here and it helps give the sunrise some perspective. The brightness and colour of the just -risen sun poking through the branches of the acacia tree is pretty powerful. A whole new day…..

Total gridlock..

An early morning game drive which started with the sunrise above brought us to this scene. What I like about this photo is how there are so many things competing for your attention. Maybe you first see the baboon family crossing the road, then your eyes fall to see the two male Impalas (I think?) locking horns in a rutting ritual for females attention, then, holy crap, there is a giraffe in there as well just grabbing some breakfast. Maybe that’s not traditionally good to have many things competing in a picture but I like the effect here to show the wildlife variety and density.

A family affair

This pride of tree climbing lioness’ and cubs was a fun group to watch as the older ones competed for the prime branch lounging spots and the young cubs scrambled around. Again, nothing super special about the photo but it was very cool to see so many of them all together and to sit and watch them interact. I recall it took a bit of waiting for them to all get within the same frame to grab this shot.

You'll never walk alone

This is in the Serengeti again and was taken just after we saw a herd of elephants numbering 50 something make their way across the plains. For some reason this one decided to strike out on their own in another direction away from the group. It was in stark contrast to the rest of the huge group and luckily for me it was walking away right into some beautiful evening lighting and colours in the sky.

Guess the animal, win a prize

Took lots of pictures of those crazy striped zebras on this trip but this one ended up being my favourite. I guess it just provides a different angle to see those unique stripes and you don’t need to see any more of the animal to know exactly what it is because of its famous feature. It’s cool to see the hide/hair so close up but I wish I could have gotten a bit closer or gotten a lower angle so that the entire frame would be filled with stripes instead of the little empty spot now there.

Pink Haze

This photo is taken from the floor of the world famous Ngorogoro Crater and shows the soda lake that covers a good portion of the crater floor in the backround. There was a big flock of flamingos on the lake and in a sudden moment they rose from the lake and took to the air in a haze of pink. Unfortunately, this photo isn’t able to capture the size of the flock flying as you need to be in this close to see the actual birds and I don’t think the pictures with the wider perspective capture that.

The green in the hills and valleys remind me Ireland a bit

This photo was take inside the Ngorogoro Conservation area but outside of the actual crater. There are Masaai villages still allowed to stay in the area and there were herds of cattle grazing in this valley. What really jumped out to me was how green everything was. The picture is framed with thatch tops of the Masaai huts on the bottom of the photo kind of as if to say…this is what someone sees everyday when they wake up in the morning.

park16

This photo is a part of a number of shots to make up a 360 degree view of the crater rim from the floor. I was trying to show how huge and blue the sky appears and the streaking wispy clouds make it seem even bigger. I think it does an alright job of capturing the feeling from the bottom of the crater.

Well, that’s it for now folks. I hope you enjoyed and got a sense of being there yourself. Stay tuned for another favourite photos tour in the weeks ahead. As they say on the beaches of Kigamboni, peace and love.