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Slowly awakening, I find myself in darkness, the wind gently stirring the fabric of the tent. Despite the chill in the air, I'm snug beneath a thick duvet, with comforting warmth emanating from the hot water bottle at my feet. Suddenly, the sound that stirred me repeats—a lion's roar pierces the night, accompanied by the eerie cackling of hyenas and the distinct bark of jackals.

At that moment, I'm momentarily disoriented, until the realization hits me—I'm in Kenya, on safari. I drift back into sleep, attempting to suppress my bubbling excitement for the adventures that await in the days and nights ahead. I awake again, this time to the familiar chime of my iPhone alarm.

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The air is crisp as I slip into my robe and flick on the kettle. Being a coffee addict, I've brought some freshly roasted beans from South Africa and my trusty AeroPress. A steaming hot shower invigorates me, and I emerge ready for the day ahead, clad in jeans, a T-shirt, and a snug fleece—always bringing two on safari, one for chilly mornings in the vehicle and one for evenings by the campfire. With my travel mug brimming with aromatic coffee, I set off to rendezvous with my clients. Today marks the beginning of their photography safari with me.

As dawn breaks, a gentle pink hue tints the horizon while our 4x4 rumbles along the rugged terrain. My driver, Steve, punctuates the journey with his customary humor, quipping about the "African Massage" as we bounce along. His joke elicits a smile from me and laughter from my guests.

Our ride, a 4x4 Land Cruiser Troopy, is the standard vehicle used by most safari operators—a reliable workhorse with ample space. Ours has been modified for photographers, featuring wide-open windows and removed center seats to allow for optimal shooting positions. The vehicle's roof can be opened, providing elevated angles for capturing subjects, particularly wildlife in trees or hidden in tall grass. While Steve focuses on navigating the terrain, I keep my eyes peeled for potential photography subjects.

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The chilly wind nips at my face, but I'm grateful for my trusty beanie, which keeps my head warm. It doesn't take long before our first wildlife encounter—a pride of lions consisting of five females and a young male sporting the beginnings of a mane.

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As we approach, maintaining a respectful distance of about 20 meters, I adhere to my philosophy of not crowding our subjects. Getting too close can trigger a fight-or-flight response, so I prefer a slow, cautious approach from a distance. Alternatively, if the animals are on the move, I opt to let them come to us. This approach ensures the wildlife remains relaxed, allowing us to photograph their natural behavior.

As we approach the lions, I notice the wide-eyed wonder on my client's face, reminiscent of my own first safari experience. The thrill, the reverence, and the tingling anticipation as you come face-to-face with a killing machine. Whenever I work with my clients, my first goal is to calm them down and reduce their over-excitement. After all, capturing a sharp photograph requires a steady hand and a calm mind. With a few deep breaths and reassuring words, the familiar click of shutters fills the air.

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After an hour of capturing photos of the lions, they eventually retreated to the comforting shade of an acacia tree. I informed my clients that we'd revisit the lions later in the afternoon to check on them. Leaving the lions behind, we ventured into the undulating hills of the Mara. While my passion lies in wildlife photography, I've always harbored a secret affection for landscapes. During lulls in wildlife sightings, I turn my lens toward the vast landscapes, seeking out compositions for my clients. The Mara trees, in particular, captivate me, and I have a few favorite spots I frequently revisit.

As we rounded a corner that morning, one of my beloved trees came into view. Bathed in the soft morning light, with remnants of storm clouds lingering overhead, the acacia tree stood majestically. However, what truly ignited my photography juices was the sight of tall figures in the distance, gracefully traversing through the long grasses of the savannah. Giraffes! The five Masai giraffes were still a few kilometers away, but I knew their destination—a tree close by. Deciding to position our 4x4 at a distance from the tree, I calculated that we'd need a 200mm focal length lens to capture the composition I envisioned. However, I also instructed my client to have his second camera ready with a wider lens, as I had another composition in mind.

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#8

Last Of Its Kind, Northern White Rhino

Last Of Its Kind, Northern White Rhino

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With nearly two decades of experience photographing African wildlife, I've become intimately acquainted with animal behavior. This familiarity often aids me in capturing extraordinary moments. Anticipating the route of the giraffes and predicting that the lead giraffe would stop to assess us before continuing on his way. What I hadn't anticipated was the near-perfect symmetry that unfolded as the other giraffes continued their graceful stride in the background.

My client was thrilled with the resulting composition, and so was I. As the giraffes proceeded toward the tree, it was the last giraffe that provided us with the quintessential African scene. Stretching its neck to reach the last dangling leaves, amidst the lush grass and billowing white clouds, a stunning photographic print was born.

As my tummy rumbled, signaling perfect timing for breakfast, we made our way to my cherished tree. While my guests stretched their legs, Steve and I swiftly set up a table and chairs, arranging a delightful spread that the lodge had prepared for us: coffee, croissants, muffins, cheeses, and meats. It was a scrumptious breakfast, enjoyed amidst the expansive beauty of the Mara.

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#10

Craig & Friends, Mount Kilimanjaro

Craig & Friends, Mount Kilimanjaro

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jorinda-rankin1 avatar
BarkingSquirell
Community Member
1 week ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Ignoring the weird message below mine, just wanted to say this is a magnificent shot!

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Over the next few days, we were treated to some of the most extraordinary wildlife encounters imaginable—leopards, cheetahs, rhinos, and buffalo. One memorable morning, we managed to tick off the entire Big Five.

One of the most unforgettable highlights for my clients occurred in Amboseli, where we spent an entire morning in the company of one of the last remaining super tuskers in East Africa. It was a magical bucket-list moment to capture and spend time with this gentle pachyderm against the backdrop of the majestic snow-covered Kilimanjaro. But that's a story for another time.

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#15

Black Death, African Buffalo

Black Death, African Buffalo

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baylane08 avatar
No_longer_bored_panda
Community Member
1 week ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I saw a sketch of one of these beautiful creatures yesterday and was saddened to see it called "Black death". Now I'm curious why. I'll be looking into that in a minute...

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#18

Mara Tusker

Mara Tusker

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Shirley Heyn
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1 week ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Mara looks quite old and very wrinkly, surely has some stories to tell. Nice to see not all elephants have been killed for their ivory!

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