Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 1st Sep 2014
Samburu National Reserve in northern Kenya is a unique place to photograph African wildlife. It has a very dry climate, cool in the evenings and early mornings but it can get very hot during the day. A number of unusual species are found in theis reserve which is one of the reasons I love to visit Samburu.
You do not have to drive very far to find amazing landscapes and wildlife encounters.
When you first arrive at Samburu (normally around midday), it is hot the sun is harsh and most animals are huddled in the shade. You start to think "why did I come here ?" However, towards the end of the day the temperatures begin to fall and the arid dry looking landscape turns into a wildlife paradise bathed in a very warm and pleasant soft afternoon light. Thankfully the nights are pleasantly cool.
The Lions in Samburu are not so numerous but they are regularly seen.They have a different look to them - "sleek" might be a word to describe them ! Their fur is not very long and they seem to have larger ears than other lions. Fully grown adult males do not have much of a mane at all and they have an unusual menacing look to them.
Apart from unusual looking lions, Samburu is home to the Gerenuk (an antelope that is capable of standing upright on its back legs for extended periods in order to feed on leaves), the Reticulated Giraffe is another special animal of the area. Grevy's Zebra, Beisa oryx and the strikingly beautiful Vulturine Guineafowl complete a very unusual list that you will not find together in any of the other reserves we visit.
On one of our safaris we had an amazing experieince where a lioness almost caught a Gerenuk right in front of us. The speed of the chase is what was so amazing to see and in this article I wanted to go through the scenario and break down and discuss some of the things that go on during such a high speed event and to point out some important aspects of high speed action photography.
The Gerenuk got away !!
Apart from capturing a record of this hunt, some interesting information can be extracted from the exif data in the files:
Time from when she began her charge to the last frame was 2.5 seconds
My 10 FPS (frames per second) camera captured 17 images
A 3 FPS camera would only have managed around 6 images
So does your cameras FPS ability count ? - absolutely - especially when wildlife is in action. Remember to leave it on HIGH all the time - there would have been no time on this occasion to have changed the frame rate on the camera.
Having a "freeze the action" camera setting in mind for such scenarios will enable you to capture the story you want to tell with the settings you choose - don't leave it up to your camera. Learning to shooting in Manual Mode will force you to become very familiar with your cameras buttons, settings, shutter speeds, ISO's etc.
If for example I had been in AV Mode and the last subject I had photographed was a hippo resting in the sun on a river bank. ISO at 200 and aperture at f8, my sudden arrival at this lion sighting would have caused excitement and I would most likely have forgotten to change both my ISO and aperture, resulting in very slow shutter speeds. Intentionally choosing a slow shutter speed is a different story.
Getting to know your camera and how to set it up and prepare for different scenarios will give you more freedom to experiment and explore different and more creative options. Use the technical capabilities of your camera to capture what is in your minds eye - not necessarily what you see through the view finder.
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Hi Stu, Thank you for a wonderful trip. I have been on a lot of safaris around the world and you are the best in Africa. Your hard work pays off.
Dave Irey, USA
We have a particular affinity for bird photography, but also enjoy the African game animals. I'm pleased to say we are all thrilled with the entire trip. Stu met us at the airport on day 1, and what was to have been a quick couple hour drive to camp, took all afternoon until sunset, we found so many things to shoot. Then we wanted to do something slightly off the itinerary on day 2, and Stu again accommodated us. It was like that throughout the entire trip, the Porter family was very accommodating. Even though we were in a big national park using public facilities, the Porter family made us feel like we were in our own private game reserve, and the animals were there just for us. Stu's local knowledge of the birds and game is just great, he's a walking guide book. And because he's in Kruger so often, he knows where the best spots are. Also he knows all the other guides, and they share information. And most importantly if you are considering a photo safari, Stu is an accomplished nature photographer himself. He knows the light and how to position and approach for the best shot. He knows what photographers want and how to get it. The experience might be quite different if just any guide were to drive you around. And having a spotting vehicle out searching for game really helped us see some extra animals we wouldn't have seen. The results were outstanding. We saw and photographed all the of the big five, and several seldom seen animals totaling 33 mammal species and 164 bird species. All in all, the trip was great!! highly recommended!
Con Foley, USA