I’d always hoped for the chance to capture an image of elephants silhouetted against a sunrise or sunset. I had the opportunity when I was in Zimbabwe last year, though the results weren’t quite what I had in mind. I think if we had been in position about 15 to 20 minutes earlier, the sky would have been a bit brighter, though still colourful enough to be interesting. Though, of course, had we been in this particular spot earlier, the elephants wouldn’t have been there, as they were on the move and just passing through the area.
There are so many sightings I think would be interesting, and images I would love to capture. I don’t put pressure on myself or guides when we are out and about to find certain situations, as part of the joy of being in the bush is the unexpected. Though if we are at a sighting, I will ask for a vehicle to be repositioned, if it is safe to do so and doesn’t adversely impact others, in order to be able to capture better images, but usually, the guide has already thought of that as they position a vehicle.
I’m in the process of making some changes to my cataloguing of photos. After a few years of trying to work with Capture One exclusively, I’m moving back to Lightroom for cataloguing and basic edits. Given how hectic life was during the time I was trying to use Capture One, I probably didn’t put enough effort into learning the program, but Lightroom feels easier to use, and right now, that’s enough of a pull to make the switch. In all honesty, it’s nice to have so many different choices of software to use, and my choice may change again in the future.
It’s a little tedious transferring over my star ratings, since there isn’t an automated way to do things, but at least it means I am going through all the photos again to decide if I do want to work on them in the future.
As for today’s image, it should be no surprise that I gravitated towards elephants. This sighting was right after lunch when we arrived at our camp in Hwange, and everyone enjoyed the antics of this group rolling in the mud and dust bathing.
I had planned to edit a few images today, but then the day got away from me. This seems to be a familiar occurrence lately, and I am going to need to do a bit better in planning my time to work on photos.
This image caught my eye out of the grouping that I had flagged to work on. These young giraffes were necking in the warm glow of the early morning sun.
Midday is generally not considered the best time for photos, with harsh glare and intense shadows. But a group of elephants, happily frolicking in a muddy puddle, is too good not to shoot, regardless of the conditions outside.
I know I’ve said it many times before, but spending time amongst elephants makes my heart happy.
It’s a grey and dreary day today, and a black and white image felt like the right thing to work on. This mare and foal were part of a small group of zebras, and just outside the frame was the stallion, working to keep the group together and moving it in a cohesive direction. This was one of several very young zebra foals that I had the pleasure of seeing during my last trip.
When I was in Namibia in 2017, I thought that would be the time when I would see a brown hyena, as they are a fairly regular animal to spot along the Skeleton Coast. Instead, we saw substantial aftermath of hyenas, in the form of numerous seal pups littering the beach, but didn’t spot the hyenas. Fast forward to my trip in 2022; on the drive from the Madikwe air strip to the lodge, my guide told me there was a brown hyena den on the property that we would would try to get to during my stay. I was quite excited about the prospect of finally seeing one of these animals.
Luck was on our side for a sighting, but not on my side for a great photographic opportunity. Heavy rains had closed many roads, giving us quite a long drive to get to the den site, and the approaching darkness meant we could only stay a short time. We had hoped that an adult would come back to the den while we were there, but it was not to be. We did see a youngster at the mouth of the cave where the den was located, but watching a cave entrance in the approaching dark from significant distance doesn’t provide the best chance at a decent photo.
But, while the photos matter, in that I enjoy taking them, editing them, sharing them and creating with them, they also don’t matter, because enjoying the moment is more important to me than coming back with an image of it. I will share what I do have of my first ever brown hyena sighting, because it was interesting and special for me. I’m hopeful that someday, I’ll get a better look at these creatures.
I selected a few more images from my wild dog sighting this past November to share today. I’d previously posted a few wild dogs images from this trip, which you can find here if you missed them. There are also lots of images in my archives of wild dogs, which can be found with the search function, if desired.
This first image is to show how well camouflaged animals are in the bush, even when the vegetation is not particularly dense. This sighting was at sunset, and we knew the location of the dogs and approached from off road. We weren’t that far off the road, maybe 15 or 20 feet, but had we been on the road and unaware of the dogs location, we likely would have driven right by them.
These dogs were part of same pack and also seen at dusk. These individuals were getting ready to be on the move, and just waiting for the other members to move off. There were five dogs in total in that sighting.
The other sighting I had was mid morning, and quite an adventure to get to. The other people on my vehicle had decided to sleep in, so I was off just with my guide, and we were both happy to see what we could see, and find what we could find. We had a call from another guide that he’d found a pack of dogs, and we ended up traveling off-road over very rocky terrain, up fairly steep hills. These was concern that a wrong turn could damage the vehicle, so it was slow going, but eventually we ended up with the dogs. They were on the move which added challenge to finding them, and they were in dense bush which didn’t provide too many photo opportunities. But even an obscured sighting of wild dogs is an incredible experience.
Today I thought I would share a selection of a few different safari images. Part of the excitement of being out on game drive is never quite knowing what you may see around the next bend in the road or over the next hill; but, on a South African safari, you’ll probably have the opportunity to see all of these at some point.
This past trip was my first opportunity to see jackal pups, and they are absolutely adorable creatures. Both sightings happened when I was staying at Madikwe, here are a few images from the first sighting, on m first evening at the reserve. We were definitely lucky to have such nice late afternoon light for the sighting.
Our group was quite fortunate as the jackal sighting from start to finish was less than a minute. Had we lingered longer at the elephant we had been watching before this, we probably wouldn’t have seen them at all.