When a plan comes together. Being guides, when we are out in the field we are always looking for great photographic opportunities, ones that are unique or different to the normal images that you see. I normally go against this when I am out in the field, why? Because I am a firm believer that you take whatever nature is willing to show you, I also believe that no matter where you are or what you are doing, if you put in the time, you will be rewarded in one way or another. It may not be in the way that you expect it, BUT you will be rewarded for your efforts.
I recently returned from my last safari of the year, which was a workshop in Amboseli. The purpose of the workshop is to grow as a photographer, to learn more about your camera, to understand why you are picking up your camera, what kind of image you are trying to create and to learn more about post processing your images.
So our typical day would consist of game drive from 06:00am until between 11:00 and 12:00, then we would either have a lecture or do lightroom sessions and review images followed by lunch and then out for drive again art 15:30.
In my first lecture I displayed 20 images of different or unique images to Amboseli, as well as one or two images that are iconic to Amboseli that we should look out for.
Typically, this time of year is the start of the long rains in Kenya and we had rain on every day that we were in the park. This can be seen as a negative, but it can also be seen was a huge positive, being able to be equipped with vehicles that you can be out in the rain and not get wet allows us to photograph animals in the rain, in their environment. This was another topic that we discussed, shooting wildlife in the rain, what our settings should be depending on the story we would like to tell.
Without getting off track. I really wanted us to utilize Kilimanjaro whenever we could, having cloudy weather often hid the mountain so windows of opportunity were small.
The iconic shot with the mountain is having elephants in front of the mountain, little did we know that while I was discussing this, the universe had something else in store for us.
On our first afternoon out in the field we saw some lions not to far from camp, they were quite a ways away from the road, but being close to the camp we decided it might be a good option for the morning.
At dinner, we could hear the males roaring, it sounded like they hadn't moved from where we had left them. This call is often done to contact each other or to let other males know that this area is occupied.
This roaring continued through the night and even once I was i n my room, listening to the sound of rain falling on my roof, I could still hear them calling. The following morning, I got out of bed, brushed my teeth and was having a cup of coffee outside my room before heading through to meet the guests when I heard a single male lion calling, this time he seemed a little closer...
I pretty much downed my coffee and headed through to meet up with the guests and get started on our morning drive.
5 minutes out of camp, we came across this male, I'm sure he was one of the males that we had seen the day before. He was really alert and staring off in the direction of Kilimanjaro itself, we scanned with binoculars and found a pride of lions, they had just eaten and finished off what looked to be a wildebeest. Looking back and see ing this, I couldn't help but notice that Kilimanjaro was out and looking as beautiful as ever. Thats when the idea hit me, when have you seen a picture of a beautiful male lion with Kilimanjaro as the background? Well I certainly cannot remember ever seeing one. The only problem was the way that he was positioned, there was no way we could reposition and get the shot.
Having noticed this, I said to the guests, remember in our lecture we discussed having a herd of elephants with the mountain as our backdrop? Ok, skip that lets be patient and see what this male does and take an image of him with Kilimanjaro in the background. Now this is a big call, he had already had his feed and typically during the day the lions head into the palm trees to rest(which were in the opposite direction to the mountain).
The lion then started licking, grooming and yawning, all signs that he is going to get up and move. I constantly checked with the guests that everyones settings were good to go, we spoke about composition and also chatted to Ken and Jimmy in terms of vehicle positioning if the lion decided to do what I was hoping he would do...
All of a sudden, he sat up...
I could feel my heart starting to beat a little faster and he decided to walk towards the females and cubs to have a better look, maybe to see who all was there, maybe to see how much meat was left. I don't know the exact reason, but he walked a couple of paces, stopped, roared and then posed looking straight at us! BOOM! The shot that we had been talking about became a reality right in front of our eyes and what a magnificent sight it was. A male lion standing in front of Kilimanjaro facing towards us, does it get much better than that? I don't think so.
Once again, I love it when a plan comes together! As I mentioned earlier, it may not always be the exact thing you are looking for or the exact image you are after, but if you put in the time and make the effort, nature WILL reward you!
So remember - When out in the field, maximise your time, give yourself the best opportunity to find unique sightings and photographs and even if you have something in mind, its a starting point and always remember to appreciate whatever nature is willing to give you.
Until next time,