At the beginning of the year I was based in Kenya photographing a selection of some of my favourite mammals. The first part of my trip was in conjunction with Natures Images, co-leading their Big Cat Photographic Safari to the Masai Mara with David Lloyd. The Mara is famous for its big cats who have been featured on many television documentaries over the years, and they are amazingly accessible here too. This represents a wonderful opportunity to focus on Lion, Leopard and Cheetah at a time of year when the Mara is not at its busiest in terms of tourism but an excellent season as far as cats are concerned which makes working with individual animals or groups even better.
Within our first few drives we had good views of all three cats. Leopard can be a difficult subject to photograph but having excellent sightings out in the open was a great introduction for our guests.
I think the Masai Mara is one of the best places in Africa to see Lion. As many of you will be aware, this is my favourite mammal to photograph – filled with beauty and majesty. Based at Entim camp close to the Mara river, we are in a prime location to see many different prides. Our group had several encounters with the large male Notch boys and also one of the highlights of our trip was spending a morning with both Blackie and Lipstick who were very active and in close proximity.
The Big Cat Photography Safari also provides opportunities to spend time with other subjects throughout our drives across the plains. During our stay we were able to see hundreds of Zebra moving in large herds aswell as good sightings of both Elephant and Giraffe. Whilst working in this environment, I think it is important not only to capture close portraits to emphasis character and texture, but also to zoom out and incorporate the vast landscape. The Mara is known for its huge, voluminous and every changing skies.
A stunning week of photography yielded seeing the big five along with superb opportunities to photograph its illustrious supporting cast as well. It was time to say goodbye to my Natures Images guests and spent a further week in camp. This following week was certainly the week of the Leopard and I was fortunate to see this particular cat almost everyday. It was also a week of ‘firsts’ for me, with my first Caracal sighting, first Wild Dog sighting and also my first time witnessing a Crocodile attack.
The final leg of my Kenyan journey was to focus particularly on Elephants. After spending some time in Amboseli last year, I was looking forward to returning and progress on previous images. One of the most important things to remember whilst on location is ‘quality over quantity’ and that it really does only take one great sighting to make a whole trip worthwhile. I put this philosophy into action again with this part of the trip, and although there are many Elephants to see and photograph in this part of the world, it was all a question of them falling into the right place. Whether it be with great lighting or just in the right area of the landscape.
An image which I was really looking forward to working on was an image which showed the Elephants size and texture. As this young bull came close to my vehicle, I was able to achieve a low enough angle to do just that.
As well as enormous bulls, Amboseli has large herds of up to 200 Elephants in one group with varying sizes. Amongst these individuals are usually very small Elephants which can be full of life but also very dependent on mum.
Like the Mara, Amboseli has a range of other wildlife to photograph and in particular areas it is great for Giraffe. With its open landscape, the park provides great opportunities for simple imagery over the flat terrain with the roof of Africa (Mt Kilimanjaro) as a backdrop. Although much of Kenya was suffering a very dry spell, the mountain had received plenty of rain a few days before my stay leaving the peak covered in snow.
My stay in Kenya was extremely enjoyable and this blog is only a flavour of the many beautiful sightings I was privileged enough to witness. 2017 sees me return to this continent a few more times throughout to year running the Natures Images Namibia Photographic Safari and also my Zambian Photographic Safaris in September. Although these safaris are fully booked, I have recently released dates for my upcoming 2018 photographic safaris to both Amboseli and South Luwangwa next year. If you would like to book on either of these safaris or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org