SEPTEMBER 2014 - Lioness chases Gerenuk - KENYA
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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As a return customer I can't recommend enough the experience of these trips as well as photographic opportunities that surpass all expectations. In addition I have now visited the reptile centre, as part of the extension, twice. Both times I have been delighted with the skill and expertise of the rangers there. The opportunities set up for photography are exceptional and that coupled with Stu's masterclass in close up and macro provides a day to remember. If you get the opportunity to do the extension, take it as it's worth every minute.
Sharron Franks, UK
I was fortunate to be on Wild4's "Best of Botswana" trip in May 2014. It could well be the Best of Africa. This trip featured two expert guides (Stu Porter himself and Nkosi from Letaka Safaris) and the abundant wildlife of four different Botswanan hot spots, with relatively few other vehicles around. Those features alone are worth the price of admission, particularly since they include Stu's vehicle modifications that ensure the best possible photographic experience. But if that isn't enough, we spent the first ten nights in expedition style mobile camps, roughing it with bucket showers and drop toilets, and listening to the leopards, elephants and hyenas wandering in and around the camps at night. But don't worry about the "roughing it" part. The expert staff prepares perfect meals, including fresh baked breads and cakes, and ensures that the camp is safe and clean. We finished the 12-night trip in a luxury lodge on the Chobe River, where we photographed from a boat customised to accommodate serious photographers (i.e. people with lenses bigger than their legs) and a waterway full of hippos and elephants and lined with Africa's most iconic birds. If you can only go once to Africa, go to Botswana with Wild4 Photographic Safaris. They will take care of every detail of your safari to ensure that everything is just right. If you are an old Africa veteran, ditto. You just can't go wrong with Wild4.
George Cathcart, USA