Ok, I must say it in advance that today was all about elephants. Yes, there is excellent general game here at Mashatu, but today was all about elephants. The elephants here are extremely relaxed, and this makes for excellent photography. We spent a great amount of time with one family of elephants, and they were so relaxed around us that they actually fell asleep. Half of the herd fell asleep while standing up, and the other half actually laid down on the ground and started to slumber. One male stood only 5 feet from my lens and started sleeping within minutes of our arrival. It was just amazing to witness such large animals in such a relaxed state.
I took the opportunity to use my 200-400mm and isolate parts of this male, and this was a fun exercise to try and compose intimate compositions. I am not confident that many of the photographs worked out, but it was fun to at least try to get out of my normal way of shooting. I am trying to photograph in a different way on this trip, as I need to get out my shell a bit. My photographs haven’t been up to my standards in a while, and I need to try and break out a bit. Jessica Mitford once wrote a book on writing, and she talked about how writers need to ‘murder their darlings’. Writers have pet phrases that they try and fit into their writings, and they actually hold writers back from growing in their craft. As a photographer I am trying to learn this approach, and I am trying to murder my own darlings on this safari. I may not be successful, but I am hoping that I will at least learn more about creativity in the process. Since I am here in Africa often, I have the luxury of being able to try new things. Let’s hope I both learn something as well as come home with some newer looking images.
This afternoon we tracked two leopards, a mother and her sub adult son. Only 1 vehicle had shots of the mother, however most everybody else was able to shoot the male up in a tree. I didn’t take any photographs this afternoon, and spent the time working with my vehicle mates on exposure and composition. I also took the time to just think about my own compositions, and have come up with some new ideas that I will put into practice on future game drives.
After a nice sundowner drink, we all headed back to camp, cleaned up and met at the bar before dinner. Dinner was under the stars in the boma, set amongst a roaring fire in the middle of the enclosure. The Mashatu staff sang a few joyous songs for us, and many in the group retired back to their rooms by 9:00. Jet lag really hits hard for the first few days, and I was tired for other reasons.
Note: All images in these daily blog postings are very very rough edits of the things we have seen, and I often omit the photographs that take too much time to process. I don’t take much time off during the day, as I am working with people with their photographic needs. All of my images in these posts will have to be re-processed when I get back home, and they are only included in these blog entries for illustration purposes.