The next time you are out photographing wildlife, I encourage you to look for behaviors and poses that imply human emotion. We are naturally drawn to imagery that mirrors our own emotions. Sadness. Happiness. Shyness. Joy. Anger. If your photograph implies any of these, then viewers will respond very positively to your pictures.
In the example above, we arrived on scene to find a giraffe resting in the shade of an acacia tree. My first instinct was to position our vehicle to photograph the giraffe from the front so we could have a better view of its body. After thinking about the image for a minute, I realized that the giraffe was rubbing its head against the tree. This behavior made it appear as if it was shy or timid. Rather than snapping a standard full-length grab-shot of the giraffe, I worked a bit harder to find a way to show emotion.
Maybe the image of the giraffe’s head poking out from behind a tree implies a game of peek-a-boo with a young child. Or, perhaps it implies an adult looking around the corner to see who might be there before coming out into the open. Either way, it is a much stronger image.
Sometimes, the most important parts of a photo story are the images showing details that might otherwise be forgotten. This photo of a buffalo skull and rib cage help fill in the larger story of a safari without showing the obvious fight between predator and prey. It graphically demonstrates the harsh reality of life on the African Plains in a very graphic way.
This buffalo was killed by a pride of lions, then hyenas and vultures came in to finish off the job. Days later, all that remained were the rib cage and the skull. They serve as a stark reminder of the dangers to wildlife in the wilds of Tanzania.
The next time you are on a photo trip, work hard to find additional elements of the scene that fill in details of the grand story.
Our January 2015 Newsletter is posted here: http://visadventures.com/newsletters/2015-01-newsletter/
This month we have lots of great topics including a review of the Nikon D750 in Tanzania, a review of the Uplift adjustable height desk, a Lightroom tutorial and more.
In This Month’s Newsletter
– Stuff I Like This Month
– January GOAL Assignment: B-Roll and Secondary Subjects
– Field Report: Using the Nikon D750 In Africa
– Product Review: Uplift Desk
– Digital Tidbits: The Lightroom Solution for Cloudless Skies
– Workshop and Business Updates
Gura Gear makes great camera bags for adventure travel. They don’t run deals very often on their products, so if you are looking for a deal on the Kiboko 22L or the Chobe 19-24L, then now’s the time. They are offering $50 off each bag. Here’s the direct link to their website for the $50 discount.
We have a full schedule of adventure photo trips planned for 2014/2015 and would love to have you along. Photography adventure trips with Mike Hagen and Visual Adventures are great fun and very educational. We’ve taken care of all the trip details so you can focus solely on getting the best shot in the best light.
Our Iceland and Galapagos trips for August/September 2014 are already sold out, but we have space available for Cuba in October, Tanzania in November, Iceland in February and India next April. Stay tuned for more 2015 trips to be announced soon!
All of our workshops can be found at this link:
Here are our upcoming international trips for the remainder of 2014 and early 2015:
Aug. 12-20, 2014
Iceland Photo and Bird Adventure (SOLD OUT)
Sep. 5-14, 2014
Galapagos Photo Adventure (SOLD OUT)
Oct. 4-12, 2014
Cuba Photography and Cultural Tour
Nov. 4-15, 2014
Tanzania Photo Safari
Feb. 9-15, 2015
Iceland Winter Photo Adventure
Apr. 29 – May 11, 2015
Northern India Tea, Landscape and Wildlife Photo Adventure
The baobab tree is an amazing sight to behold. In Tanzania, these massive trees grow primarily in Tarangire National Park and are known for their funny upside-down shape. According to the legend of Bushmen, the baobab tree offended God, so he plucked it out of the ground and planted it back upside down, leaving the roots exposed to the sky.
Baobabs are succulents and store massive amounts of water in the trunk (sometimes up to 26,000 US gallons) in order to endure harsh drought conditions. Their massive swollen trunks consist of soft spongy wood, saturated with water. They hold so much water in fact, that they’ve been known to survive for ten years with no rain. Interestingly, the diameter of their trunks changes throughout the year in relation to how much rain falls or how long the dry season lasts.
Elephants love the bark of the trees and you’ll often see them tearing off long strips of bark to chew on. This behavior is especially evident during the dry season as elephants work to obtain moisture from the trunk’s water reserves. Most baobab trees in Tarangire National Park bear deep gouge marks and even giant holes through the trunk from the abuse they take from elephants.
One thing you can’t miss is how large these trees are. The photograph here shows a young elephant using its tusks to tear away some bark. This elephant is probably seven or eight feet high, so you can see that the tree trunk is close to 30 feet in diameter.
Baobabs take hundreds of years to reach their large dimensions and some are known to be many thousands of years old. In fact, one of the largest baobabs in Africa has been dated to be more than 6,000 years old. Most baobabs don’t look fully “baobab-ish” until they are at least 600 years old. When they become a thousand years old, many trees begin to hollow inside, providing refuge for animals and people as they travel the African wilds.
Tarangire National Park hosts one of the world’s greatest populations of African elephants, with more than 5,000 roaming the park. It is said to have more elephants per square mile than anywhere else in the world. This park is the perfect place to photograph the world’s largest land animal next to one of the largest tree species on earth.
For this image, I used the Nikon D800 coupled with the Nikkor 200-400mm f/4. For support, I rested the camera on a Gura Gear Anansi bean bag. As always, I used the Peak Design leash system to keep from dropping the rig from the Landcruiser.
Most people don’t think about this, but wide angle lenses really do deserve a spot in your African safari camera bag.Nikonians.org just posted my new article in The Nikonian eZine issue 56 on using wide angle lenses on safari.
Long lenses like the Nikon 200-400mm f/4, 400mm f/2.8 or the 600mm f/4 always get the big billing, but I contend that it is just important to bring along a super-wide to round out your kit. In the article I suggest a number of ideas for using these lenses and offer specific recommendations for the Nikon 14-24mm or the Nikon 16-35mm.
Click through to the magazine to read more: The Nikonian eZine 56
Most of the shots in the article were taken during our two 2013 safaris. Our next trip to Tanzania is set for November 4-15, 2014.
When people are considering going on a safari, one of the questions they commonly ask is, “what are the tent camps like?”
Their concern usually revolves around uneasiness about how rustic the sleeping arrangement will be or how exposed to the elements they’ll be. Rest assured that the accommodations are far from terrible! The reality is that our tented camps are stunning, beautiful and well appointed. Here are a few pics from our most recent Tanzanian safari.
We were driving back to our lodge from the Mara River in the Northern Serengeti when we crossed over this small stream. Just as we passed through, we all spotted a tiny lizard sunning itself on a log. We all yelled “baby crocodile!” and stopped our Landcruiser. Upon further inspection, this little guy turned out to be a young monitor lizard. It was a neat find and a totally different photo subject from the lions, wildebeest and zebra we’d been photographing earlier in the day.
Just back from a few weeks in Tanzania with the Nikonians Academy. Our 11 intrepid explorers had an incredible journey through Northern Tanzania. We took lots of great images of the usual suspects (lion, hyena, cheetah, etc.), but I wanted to show a bit of a different side of Tanzania with this post. Tanzania has an amazing diversity of landscapes and animals so it is always my goal to shoot images I’ve never captured before. Here are a few: