Thinking of Paris as I get on a plane to fly to France this morning. The Eiffel Tower is easy to photograph but it is very difficult to photograph with a new perspective. When I took this almost 3 years ago, I was walking from the Trocadero towards the Tower and noticed these “things with pipes” pointing the same direction. I found out later these are water cannons – powerful fountains – that spray into a reflecting pool and are turned on occasionally.
I liked their weathered surface and how they were composed of many basic geometric shapes so I got low and close to feature them equally with the Tower. At the same time, I used a moderately long focal length (105mm) to compress the foreground and background, intentionally decreasing the perception of depth to make the cannons seem closer to the Tower than they actually are.
This has been one of my more successful images from that trip and, since the cannons are not well known, they always spark conversations with viewers online and at galleries who want to know what they are. I’m trying out some new gear on this trip and I hope I come home with as many images that I’m as happy with as I did the last trip. If I can, I’ll post initial edits of images from the trip as I go.
Early one morning while exploring the northern Lobo area of the Serengeti, we came across a pride of lions just lazing in the grass near the road. There were 8 or 9 of them, many of them young males. They entertained us for at least an hour as they played with each other, played with a stick one of them found, and rolled in the grass. I caught these two brothers leaning on each other as they looked at us.
This image is one of my favorites from a safari last year and not just for the main subject. One of the things I love about incorporating the African landscape in my wildlife photography is how backgrounds can reveal layers, or stripes, of tone and color.
Using a long lens can amplify the effect as it did here. I used Canon’s 500mm lens with a 1.4x extender giving me a 700mm total and the result is a stacking effect of the different shades of grass from foreground to background. Because this was taken in the Ngorongoro Crater, the foliage in the back extends up and out of the frame. And it helps that the elephant, which is a dark subject, was standing in a lighter strip of grass which makes it stand out.
One of the best places to see elephant in Tanzania is in Tarangire National Park, especially in the dry season as the large herds congregate around the river. We caught this group on an overcast day with the matriarch and her daughters leading their young ones down to the river for a drink.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, here’s a little love, African-wildlife-style. Seeing mating lions is not common and to photograph it, you must be both patient and quick. Patient because the two lions will spend about 30 minutes between mating just loafing around. Quick because, without much warning, the male will get up, walk over, and before you know it, he’s done in about 10-15 seconds. This cycle will repeat for about 2-3 days. King of the Jungle indeed.
There are probably 12-15 black rhino in the Ngorongoro Crater but they are shy animals and tend to stay far from the road. On this day, we saw this mother and calf grazing far from the road but nicely lit in the short grass. Using Canon’s 1.4x extender on their 500mm f/4 telephoto helped me get enough reach to place them nicely in the frame.
One morning on one of my photo safaris, we came across a large family of Bat-Eared Foxes in the short-grass plains of Ndutu near the southern Serengeti. These two nuzzled for a while, with the one looking like it was thinking, “A little to the left…ahhh…that’s the spot.”
We tend to see many Grey Crowned Cranes on my photo safaris, especially in the Ngorongoro Crater. It’s a beautiful bird and the national bird of Uganda. The trick to photographing them is to get the light to the side, to accentuate the texture of the grey feathers, and slightly behind, to backlight their crown.
During a morning game drive on photo safari in Tarangire National Park, we watched a troop of baboons eating and grooming. Baboons can be interesting animals to watch because of their group interactions. This young one grabbed this insect off the ground and scrambled up this tree so he could eat it without being disturbed. He seems to be winking at me right as I snapped the shutter.
With the snow piling up outside and forecasts for about 12″ total, I’m remembering a trip to Belize last spring. After several days in the mountains, we finished our trip on Ambergris Cay which was warm, sunny, and relaxing. This is the view of the end of our place’s dock.