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16 September 2005

Bonus...Chapter 2 has now been posted.

And some info (from photographer's comments)...

For those who asked me again about the gear used I confirm that 85/90% were taken with the fantasic 200-400 F4 VR. Let me take a moment to tell you that this lens is simply fantastic and the VR system let me take some pictures at low iso speed otherwise impossible, like those close portraits of the Silverback (dominant male mountain gorilla).

In fact, into the forest, with very rough and slippery terrain, within mountain gorillas, you can't use any monopod or tripod, and using a 400 mm hendheld @200 or 400 iso is something simply impossible without VR.

(ahhh, If only I had it in the bengala jungle with tigers, how many more keepers I'd had...)

Also the luminosity and resolution of this lens is amazing, the only problem after a while becomes the wheight, could you feel tired when you're in front of these guys? and also....why I'm going everyday to the gym if not for hendhelding these lenses for longer than supposed? :-)

The other very good lens used was the 70-200 f2.8 VR but in this trip it was used for only 15/20% of the shots, the other zoom was almost always in my hands.

I was so excited by that lens that I used it also for many of the landscapes I shot and for Macro too!! (the butterfly posted was shooted hendheld with the bazooka (as I call it).

The other three lenses used were 12-24 F4 DX - 28-70 F2.8 EX (this Sigma), and a 105 F2.8 Macro (used for some of the close portraits of chimpanzee).

I almost never used the tripod,nor the monopod, as I told you: with wildlife I need to be as quick as possible, too many times I lost the moment just because I was trying to frame...with monopod or I use with satisfaction a very good double beanbag that gives me all the stability I need both when I'm on the veichle or on the ground, the VR does the rest of the job.

I don't have to tell you that the first rule (for those who asked me about the trip organization) for photographers is that you CAN'T share your veichle with others: the difference between having impatiente and moving people on the veichle and be alone is really big.

Too often the patience that only a crazy photographer can have, is rewarded with a good keeper, while if you're in a hurry in the must be veeery lucky to do a good job, this is my .02.

Also those tourists who wear strong colors shirts and speak loudly really don't help you to get very close to animals, so at the end, my first recommandation for those lucky people who are palnning a photographic trip to Africa is to have a private veichle.

And, regarding the vehicle, an other tip is to avoid the minivan and ask for a LandCruiser or a Land Rover: too often I've seen those stucked in the mud, and you really don' want to loose time or avoid following an animal because your veichle simply can't do it.

An other fundamental thing is the guide: when you plan a trip there you must clarify you're a photographer, you're not there for snapshots, so you want to have a guide who has already worked with pro-photographers, this could be a good help because they already know many basics regarding how to approach animals with the right direction for lighting, and with them you can plan day by day where and when to go, out of the ordinary timings and rules.

If some of you is interested in going to Uganda or/and Ruanda for gorilla tracking, this is a lifetime experience.

One of the most famous NG photographer Nick Nichols, explain in his site how he photographed apes ( I just want to tell you that the job is much easier than explained, but for sure we (wildlife photographers) often like to add some dramaticity and pathos about our adventures....

Now I can tell you that everybody can go there, hike, and meet these gentle animals without any other advise a part from intelligence....

You can stare with your camera as long as you want, they don't care, maybe you can avoid staring with your eyes too long, but I did it with Gohonda (the huge silverback in many of my pics) because I was ipnotized by his magnificence, and he did'nt complain.....fortunately.

For those who think about going there I'll be happy to give a good contact for Uganda and Ruanda (my guide) who's the right person there...

Regarding Kenya there are so many reliable safari companies that I can only tell you the one who managed my trip: Cheli and Peackock.
They are one of the best there, very well organized with good guides.

One of the camp in the Mara I can suggest you is Mara Explorer: this is a luxury camp, set on the edge of a river, in a perfect and tactical position inside the park, while for migration is a little bit far and on the wrong side of the Mara river.

My trip was only 25 days long, and for this reasons many of the transfer were made with little Chessna airplains.

You already know that in Africa transfers by road can be very interesting but for sure are veeery long and time demanding, so if you can afford them, these flights save a lot of photographic time.

When, on the contrary, the road is really interesting, or nobody flyes in that area, so the car is the way to go.

For example the 7 hours road I did from Bwindi , Uganda to the border of Rwanda trough the 1000 hills region was beautiful, and despite the dust I ate (tons), it was really fascinating.

Regarding the gear you can bring all the gear you want, safari photography is easy because there is a veichel that carry al your stuff, you don't have to hike or walk too much, and in that case you can alwayse hire some porters with few dollars.

The only problem if you don't have private charters can be the extra weight on the scheduled flights, but if these are problems....

I don't know if I answered all your questions, for sure not....but as I told you as soon as I can I'll do, and feel free to ask more.
Thanks again

posted by peacay 16 September | 08:58
Unbelievable. The sea of flamingoes is especially mindblowing.

What is this? What are the little specks?
posted by iconomy 16 September | 09:31
Beautiful, peacay.

I was wondering the same thing, ico. It's evidently some sort of sea thing? But without knowing the distance it's hard to make out what's going on there.

Another question: I've seen so many of these images with the silhouette of the single, lone tree on the savannah... Why does this one tree survive while no others do? Why? Why? It's not exactly like there's a tiny "oasis" there, because there's no other smaller brush stuff surrounding it at all... So, to summarize: Why? Why?
posted by taz 16 September | 09:44
duhr. Here's the link.
posted by taz 16 September | 10:03
At a guess...

The 'speck things' are birds.

We are seeing the mouth of a river and the channels of mud, sand and algae.

I suppose the lone tree is a product of lucky seed location, modest reproductive capabilities +/- firewood gathering killing off....fires.....animal eating/scratching......martian theft.
posted by peacay 16 September | 10:18
Martian theft! That seems to make sense.
posted by taz 16 September | 10:37

Excellent post. I was just looking at these pictures linked from D. Yee's site, and wondering if I will ever be able to take anything remotely like them. I guess I'd have to get to Africa first, although some of the rat herds here in Baltimore beggar description. Thanks for the post.
posted by omiewise 16 September | 11:36
ico: I'd say it's a muddy river delta flowing into a lake and the specks are birds.

Truly superb photographs. Thanks for sharing, peacay.
posted by deborah 16 September | 15:27
Gorgeous photography, got a soft spot for the cute animals.

posted by Chimp 16 September | 19:06
Simply fabulous. Thank you peacay!
posted by madamjujujive 16 September | 21:12
Too much time on my hands? || A quick reminder: