Greetings from Karatu, Tanzania! I am winding up two back-to-back safaris in Tanzania, and I am headed home tomorrow with a plethora of potentially great photographs for my portfolio. Here are some random thoughts from the past 3 weeks.
From a quality of wildlife standpoint, this is likely the best Tanzania safari I have ever been a part of, as we had wonderful leopard sightings on both of my safaris. My first safari ended in the Serengeti and my second safari started in the Serengeti, which means I had 8 nights of private bush camping in one location. These 9 days represent absolutely stunning and breathtaking photographic opportunities: leopards in trees, leopards near our vehicles, lions with 9 cubs playing about, a lion taking down a wildebeest, cheetahs out on the short grass plains, great behavior from zebras, a wildebeest giving birth to a new calf and excellent hippo interaction. These are only what comes to mind, and there are so so many other great scenes that we were able to watch and photograph. I also spent 4 nights at Ngorongoro Crater, as well as time at Lake Manyara. Lake Manyara had absolutely stunning giraffes, and we had a scene with 27 giraffes all sitting or standing out in an open clearing. Wonderful compositions!
I am more energized after this trip as a result, and cannot wait to get home to be with Leslie and the kids. I am sure that I won’t have time to process any images for a week, as being away from home for three weeks requires spending quality time with my family. I will try to quickly process some images when I have a chance, just for quick blog photos.
From an equipment standpoint, I primarily used my new Nikon D3x camera on a 200-400mm f/4 VR lens. I had the 1.7x teleconverter on it much of the time, and when I needed a little extra reach or when I wanted to fill my subject in the frame, I used my D300 with the MB-D10 portrait grip and the EN-EL4 battery. My D3 wasn’t used as much, and I am not sure why. I think I valued larger file sizes over the better higher ISO image quality of the D3. I do have some scenarios where I did use both at the same ISO and on the same lens, so I will be able to demonstrate which one looks better on different size prints. I don’t like to evaluate images on the screen, because this isn’t important to me. My only goal for my photography is the final printed image, and I primarily print in two sizes: 10x15” and 20x30”. Sometimes larger if I can get away with it.
All of my equipment was transported to Africa in a Gura Gear Kiboko camera bag. When I arrived I took out most of the dividers in the bag and then attached lenses to cameras and I was ready to shoot “out of the bag”. There were numerous other Gura Gear owners on each safari, and I heard nothing but praise about the bag’s design and use in the field. I will write up some real use stories on Gura Gear’s blog when I return home.
I also used my D700, primarily as a grab shot camera. What a great backup to a backup camera, eh? The D700 doesn’t fit my shooting style, but I would definitely keep it if I didn’t already have a D3. I would love to use the D700 as a dedicated infrared camera, but I am already carrying too many cameras as it is, and the D700 would be an expensive luxury item as a dedicated IR camera. I will be selling the D700 when I return home, because the other 3 cameras make the most sense for my style of photography. Please let me know if you are interested in picking up my D700.
I am sitting at Gibbs Farm in the Ngorongoro highlands, preparing a presentation for my safari travelers. The presentation will primarily consist of editing techniques: why images are chosen and why others are not, and then my own Adobe Photoshop Lightroom workflow on how I actually process my raw files. After the two hour session, we will finish up the day with cocktails out on the veranda with some Maasai portrait photography of two Maasai friends of mine, dressed in traditional clothing. I will have two strobes on light stands, an umbrella and some reflectors and diffusers. A great way to end our safari in a relaxed setting, for sure.
I am looking forward to returning to Tanzania in October, as well as for more safaris in 2010.
While I was away on safari, I had 2 cancellations on my July 2009 Botswana safari. Please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like these spots. I will also announce my February 2010 Tanzania safaris when I get home, but I will need to write up the travel dates and itinerary details first. If you are looking for the photographic trip of a lifetime, I highly recommend Africa!!