Guest Blog – A Non-Photographic Perspective

Guest Blog - A Non-Photographic Perspective

Hello all,

It's taken a while to write... but here it is;

I just returned home from my first photographic safari. I've been on other safaris before but this was a very new experience for me because, well, I'm not really a 'photographer!' :)

Apart from my iPhone, I don't own a camera. I don't use those enormous cameras and lenses that Deji, my husband enjoys shooting with. I probably couldn't tell a 70-200 from a macro lens!!  And you know what? I'm completely comfortable with that.

Guest Blog A Non-Photographic Perspective - Wild Eye - Michael Laubscher
Guest Blog A Non-Photographic Perspective - Wild Eye - Michael Laubscher
However, I was a little nervous about travelling with a bunch of photographers as a 'non-shooting companion'; I wasn't sure how much fun I would have being trapped in a vehicle for several hours a day with advanced photographers. I feared that I would be bored to tears hearing photography fanatics yakking on about f-stops and radial blur and ISO for 10 days straight. I thought I might feel out of place.
Eventually, Deji’s wild enthusiasm about his previous Wild Eye safaris and his excitement about the Big Cats and Tuskers itinerary won me over.
My hesitations about fitting in with the group started to vanish once I met I met the group and especially, our guide, Michael Laubscher. He made me feel like I belonged; I never felt that my value as his guest was tied to the size of my camera. I noticed that our group had photographers of every skill level and Michael was great at making everyone feel comfortable.
The lodges we stayed at were all excellent - during our stay at the Mara Serena, I took an afternoon off from game viewing to relax by the pool and enjoy an excellent spa treatment. The grounds at the Naivasha Sopa Lodge were stunning.
Michael was patient and precise with the advice he gave each person and I found myself picking up on the photography lingo swirling around the vehicle or the dinner table.
His enthusiasm infected everyone whenever we came to a great photography opportunity especially when we caught a glimpse one morning of a striped hyena!! The sightings were spectacular  and the landscapes were absolutely gorgeous. I loved the Masai Mara and Lake Nakuru but my favourite sights by far were the elephants and mountain and varied landscapes of Amboseli. I ended up taking dozens of beautiful photographs and videos with my iPhone - I will treasure them for years to come but when I think back, some of my most memorable moments happened when I just put down my phone and just basked in the beauty that unfolded before my eyes.
Thanks Michael for making it fantastic experience.

Here is a testimony from my husband Deji;

"This Big Cats and Tuskers safari was easily one of the best I’ve ever done. 

Trying to pick the most thrilling of the four destinations is a tough but sweet task. 

Boating around Lake Naivasha was an unexpected delight. We observed and shoot a stunning number and variety of birdlife. We saw countless pelicans, kingfishers, cormorants, herons and several other species on and around the lake.
Lake Nakuru National Park served up an even larger, richer visual feast. From the lake and its surrounding escarpment and ridges to the fever tree forests and Makalia waterfall, we were immersed in a kaleidoscope of rhino, giraffe, buffalo, lion and a ton of other mammals and birds in their glorious natural habitats. I saw (and shot) a striped hyena for the first (and only) time. We were also treated to the incredible sight of an overambitious leopard being harassed by a troop of pissed-off baboons.

I thought I knew what to expect from the Masai Mara - this was my fourth trip (my first visit outside the migration crossing season). Somehow, the bloody place still managed to amaze, astonish and overdeliver. In February, the Mara’s mantle of vegetation is strikingly distinct from its appearance in August. Time and again, I was stunned by how this incredible place was so familiar and yet, so different. By the way, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen silhouetted Giraffes cantering across enormous grasslands bathed in dawn colours and light. When you have a terrific guide like Michael, you will capture images which will continue to refresh your soul long after the trip’s done.

Without taking anything away from the other 3 destinations, my most endearing memories were forged at Amboseli. I swear, some dawns or evenings, Amboseli’s vistas almost made me weep. Unless your soul is totally dead, you will be overcome with emotion when you sit in the presence of a gigantic bull elephant strolling directly towards you across vast plains, under enormous skies in the shadow of the magnificent snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro. 

And that’s just one of the five distinct habitats that Amboseli is blessed with. Each one unique. Every one is glorious. This place is beyond incredible.

Wildlife experiences can be enhanced or diminished by the people one travels with. My non-photographer wife only shot with her iPhone but I think she enjoyed the trip even more than I did;  she definitely came away with memories and images no less precious than mine. I’ll never forget the absolute delight on her face as she touched down after the balloon ride over the Mara - it was like she's seen heaven.

Guest Blog A Non-Photographic Perspective - Wild Eye - Michael Laubscher

Sammy, our driver was delightful from start to finish. Witty, chatty, cheerful and endlessly accommodating, we didn’t have a dull moment in our truck. Another measure of a truly successful safari are the friendships formed; getting to meet, know, and stay in touch with Manfred, Robin and Barbara, our fellow guests, is a truly special delight. Our kinship continues to endure months after we said our goodbyes at the airport.

I can’t say enough great things about Michael’s guiding. He’s knowledgeable, patient, attentive and tirelessly devoted to creating and enhancing his guests’ experience. He gave me space to shoot familiar scenes in familiar ways and encouraged me to step outside my normal capture and process routines and try different things. I’m convinced that if you have to do only ONE safari in your life, you can’t go wrong doing this one. If you’ve done a dozen and are becoming jaded, do this one, it’ll rekindle your spirit and re-fire your passion."

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

Keep well and bye bye.

Elaine Odetoyinbo

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