Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Behind the shot with Wilddogs

Images like these can take a bit of vision and a lot of nail biting!!
The African Wilddog, Africa second most endangered large carnivore after the Ethiopian wolf would be well known to most people with an interest in wildlife. Yet these fascinating animals animals still falls short on the average toursist wish-list.  Not so for wildlife photographers.  After photographing the “normal” lions, leopards, elephant and the like they set their sights on the more unusual animals and this is where Wilddogs come into their own. Unlike the often lethargic cats, Wilddogs are incredibly exciting animals and their dayly social interactions and  hunting prowess makes them in my opinion some of the most exciting animals to follow and photograph. 

View from a distance as the Dogs came in to Investigate. 
But as a wildlife photographer and photographic guide I allways want to portray them in a special way. Wide angles are not new but when faced with the continents most endangered animals you certainly cannot afford to  cause them any harm. So when we judge that conditions are good we set up the remotely operated cameras hoping that their paths they have selected would cross near the cameras. 

One of the first images of this floppy eared dog a few years ago. Here a younger dog he would become a firm favorite of mine despite the fact the he nearly costed me a lot of money on a few occasions.
Here are a few images of a dog that came to well within reach of the camera. And what I found very special is that it’s a dog I have come to know over the four years I have been following the packs of Laikipia. His inquisitive nature forces him to investigate offering remarkable opportunities.   

Initially the pack comes over to investigate. Look at the floppy eared one leading the charge!

And investigate REALLY closely!

TOO CLOSE!! Those are his teeth you are looking at!!

And this is a picture taken by a camera tumbling to the ground. I shudder thinking what the damage could have been.

And finally me arriving on the scene!!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Maasai Mara Photography 2013

Yet again I come to the end of a big chunk of the years annual safari calendar. The annual pilgrimage to the  Maasai Mara in Kenya. Spending even a few days allows you to witness and photograph natures incredible events so make sure to add it to you bucket list . Below are a few of my favorites from 2013. I hope you enjoy.

A typical and quintessentially East African Landscape. We ventured far from the crowds in search of birds when we were rewarded with  this remarkable scene.
A great Highlight is certainly finding the ever elusive Leopard. In the Mara North conservancy we were treated to fantastic viewing with only a small amount of vehicles.  

A Pride of lions make their home adjacent to Off beat Camp in the mara north. Every single day we were treated to their antics. If there was another car it was only from our own camp. 
The Off Beat Lion family.
Mara North Lion cubs in the last light of day.
Cheetah are always high on everyones wish list. Wider view of these cats at close range puts them beautifully in the dramatic open landscape.

 It certainly seemed to be a lion Season. No fewer than four individual females had cubs which is always very popular with photographers. And with valid reason. Contrary to ther lazy parents they are boisterous and the playful antics gets everyone's adrenalin going.

Two cubs playing in Ol Kedjo Rongai 
Making decisive images. 
Its not only lions that got us going. We came across a few Black Rhino during the various trips. None more impressive than this enormous old male called Karanja. Fortunately he is on 24 hour protection!!
Karanja in the grassland. 
Close up of Karanja. look at his third "horn".
Hippopotamus in water lettuce

One always tries to encourage our guests to depict animals in a new way. A wide angle of a big male can be quite dramatic.
Very young cubs with mom.
Sometimes everything just falls in place for a great pic. A majestic male lion in a sunrise. 
The Mara is probably the best place for action images and who would have though that it woud be one of the most common birds that would be giving us the best action. 
Again trying to find new ways to depics familiar animals. Here i used some flash while using motion and radial blur.
WE found two mails one morning skirting camp. Here one is roaring in the earlu morning. A few minutes later they linked up with a female. 
One of the coalition fiercely seeing off his brother in order to maintain mating rights.
The mating pair treated us to amazing photo opps right next to camp for the . 
Dramatic display of light one afternoon as the suns rays are reflected from the above clouds to give an inverted pyramid shape.  
As allways the Mara is one of the best places to view wildlife action

A beautiful female leopard in the first light of day.

A nice surprise! An elusive serval in golden light.
This brings us to the end of the 2013 Migration season. Next year it all starts again and the challenge is on to get some unique and dramatic images from one of the most photogenic places in Africa. If you would like to join in one of the scheduled trips for next year or would like to book your own private trip just drop me a line here.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Photographing the African Wilddog

On our first afternoon we were treated to the entire pack leaving the den and passing leisurely within meters of us. 
Since 2010 I have been photographing the Wilddog packs of Northern Kenya and for the first time we had a dedicated photographic safari through C4 images and Safaris to this unfenced and vast wilderness in search of one of Africa’s most endangered predators. Here are some images of what we got in terms of photographic opportunities. 

Following Dogs is always full of adrenalin. They are always doing something and we had them on kills every single drive. 

Out on an afternoon hunt and young male poses briefly in stunning light. 

A straggler keeping up with the pack. 
When having one of Africa's most endangered predators to photograph there isn't much to distract you but bumping a mother and cub Cheetah was certainly a worthwhile diversion. We had the entire afternoon with them as they hunted and even chased the odd Jackal. 
Another unfortunate Dik-dik antelope.  
Young dogs playing after an Impala kill. 
The dogs come to investigate a remote camera.
And here is the  result.
Breakfast at Laikipia Wilderness Camp.
Our Rooms overlook fantastic wilderness areas. 
I will be visiting a a number of other African Wilddog Populations in Botswana and Zimbabwe including this Kenyan one in Laikipia through the course of 2014. So if you would like to join a scheduled trip or would like to book your own private safari please contact me here. These trips are incredibly popular so the sooner you contact me the better in order to secure your dates.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Samburu and Maasai Mara

A hunting lioness scans a herd of Buffalo. We were privileged to watch a dramatis, albeit unsuccessful hunt with only two other vehicles present.  
Here are some images from a trip  with a lovely English family to the north of Kenya where we spent time in private concessions adjacent to Samburu and then in the very impressive Mara North concession adjacent to the Maasai Mara National Reserve. These concessions are a firm favorite of mine at the moment as it is incredibly well managed and the quality of sighting are of the best in Africa.  It also allows the freedom to do walks, sleep outs and activities such as fishing. In addition to seeing all the large animals we were also privileged to spend quality times with herds of elephant just enjoying their majesty.  IN the Mara we had really high quality sightings including finding and spending a time with a pride of lions 24 strong. Being in a private concession we were also able to follow the big cats after dark, a time when they become active. There are few experiences as exhilarating as being surrounded by two dozen lions of which the majority cannot be seen and for all intents and purposes may well be looking at you from their dark realm with questionable intentions!

Many people think photographic safaris is just about sitting in a vehicle and taking pictures. Yet we often get out and explore the areas on foot. Here a Samburu askari accompanies us on an afternoon walk to our sundowner spot.

An inquisitive Guenther's Dik dik allows close approach at Sasaab lodge.
Leaving the comforts of the lodge we opted for a night under the stars and on equal footing to animals who can easily turn us into a meal :)

But nothing beats waking in the wilderness!!

one of our constant dinner companions, a Large spotted Genet!

Aptly described Superb Starling in Samburu National Reserve

We visited an out of the way (and non-touristy!) Samburu village.

All the younger men had to leave the area temporarily as they had to take their herds to better grazing leaving only old men and woman in the village. The spear at the door means a man is home.

And the Genets kept coming. This one joined us for dinner at Serian Camp in the Maasai Mara.

Excerpts from my Guest book:

Thank you for helping to make our trip so memorable. You have dealt with our endless questions (and general nonsense) with great patience and humour, sharing some of your vast knowledge along the way. I can only hope that when you look back on the last ten days guiding our family, you realize you’ve learnt just a little bit more about handling wild animals, particularly when in groups of 6 with their young in tow. Do look us up if you’re in London anytime – you’re going to need another healthy dose of sarcasm before too long. Thanks so much again. L - London

Dear Albie. Thank you very much for being a very good guide. My favorite thing was the leopard we saw on the last night, Best Wishes. JT – (8)  

We had so much fun with you. How do you spot all those animals? My favorite things were the lion cubs, because they are adorable, cheetahs and the leopard.  You are an awesome photographer even though the animals get away most of the time, befoe you manage to bring your camera J All my thanks, JT, - (10)

Albie It has been a great pleasure. I’d been thinking that the Leopard was the highlight until we saw that mouse. Twinkling through the headlamps, with a sound like tiny bells – quite the cutest safari experience ever. Bring the Family to visit Tokyo – Experience some proper concrete. Best wishes and many thanks, AT – Tokyo.

Thank you very much for the best last 10 days. We learned so many things about the animals and we had a great time. Thank you so much. ET – Tokyo

Dear Albie

Others in my family have written about your outstanding qualities as a guide, which have added hugely to the great pleasure we have aall had from our holiday in Kenya, but I would like especially to compliment you on the serenity. Resilience and patience with which you have faced your barrage of questions, attempted witticisms, slightly salacious double meanings, insubordination and general misbehavior. You are very experienced but I do believe that we added considerably to your capacity to cope with family mayhem, and that another time you will be able to manage to manage with less support from my long suffering daughter. Congratulations and THANK YOU VERY MUCH INDEED. VT - London