Tales & images from life as me…

And then Paul said “let there be colour”… and there was colour!


OK Paul, wipe the smug smile off your face, I’m not quite comparing you to an all-creative deity! But between us all on our learning safari there is no question there were some moments of impressive genius! And, yes, Paul did have a lot to teach us.

So, last week you saw the Black and White previews, this week you’ve got the rest of my shots in all their Canon technicolour splendour! But first let me tell just a little about what we got up to…

Our esteemed teacher and guide on this trip was Paul Joynson-Hicks, a well known photographer in Tanzania (his large red coffee table book is one of the first things you’ll see when you arrive in Tanzania – it’s innovatively titled ‘Tanzania’!) and I had done a course with him previously down in Ruaha (please check out the details here) where I had learned a great deal, so I was very excited about what would follow.

But this trip would be different again. Partly because I had some new equipment to play with – an infrared camera and my fabulous 100-400mm lens – and partly because of where and when we were going.

This Capture Safaris tour would take us into sections of the Ngorongoro and Serengeti National Parks that I had never seen before, and all at the precise moment that over a million wildebeest gather on the plains and give birth to over half a million calves in preparation for the Great Migration (A journey of 500 miles that takes them all the way to Kenya in the longest and largest terrestrial migratory journey on earth).

The safari split essentially into three sections: Leaving Arusha took us through Manyara, and then up to the Ngorongoro Crater rim and finally allowed us a day’s shoot inside the Crater; we then settled for three nights in the Nomad Tanzania-owned Serengeti Safari Camp and enjoyed luxury service and accommodation whilst still reaping the benefits of camping amongst the wildlife (this was where the majority of the calving, and thus the predator, action was); and then we moved to the outskirts of the park and the enchanting yurts of Nomad’s Ndaura Loliondo Camp, enabling us to do some walking safari, macro photography and spend some very special time with Maasai tribe.

It certainly satisfied the traveller in me… but it also pleased the geek in me! I was travelling with five other photography obsessed individuals, three of us amateurs and two pros, and I was fully licensed to ask questions and talk photography all day long! And the days were long.

We were generally up by 5.30am (after being woken by tea being delivered to my tent!) and in the car ready to take advantage of the morning light. The sun comes up pretty fast as we are so close to the equator and you had to be thinking in order to make the most of it. I know not everyone who reads this blog is into photography so I won’t share all the hints and tips we gathered, but suffice to say I experimented with all sorts of new ideas and the results… well that’s for you to judge.

The Green Season is a great time to travel, it’s off-peak so there are less other tourist vehicles around to spoil your shot and the soft greens and dappled light make for spectacular backgrounds. Plus, I’ve never seen so many predators on any one trip and this time we also got to witness a kill, as well as several very dramatic attempted kills. The entire place was bursting with life… and death, and we were absolutely hooked from beginning to end.

Here are just a few of the shots I took during the trip. You’ve already seen the Black & Whites from last week. This is a selection of the colour images. Again, if you can let me know which pictures in particular catch your eye it would really help me out in deciding which ones might be used if I’m asked to write any articles about the trip.

Our first stop was Lake Manyara where this little chap was happy to show off for us

Our first stop was Lake Manyara where this little chap was happy to show off for us

But he did get a little shy for his close up!

But he did get a little shy for his close up!

We were up at 5am ready to explore the Crater!

We were up at 5am ready to explore the Crater!

And it didn’t disappoint, though most of my shots from that morning are in black and white or infrared so you’ve already seen them.

Next stop was the main calving area and I was expecting lots of sweet little baby shots – not so much! Firstly, they have been taught by years of evolution to run as soon as anything that’s not the same species as them comes close – the new babies can run just minutes after being born and they use this skill pretty effectively. And secondly, it wasn’t really the babies we were interested in at all – it was the predators eating the babies!

So Ndutu, and Serengeti Safari Camp, were all about the big cats. I have honestly never seen so many cheetahs and lions in one spot; or so many near misses and chases and kills. It was thrilling stuff.

The lions were certainly on form:

And the cheetahs were posing all over the place too!

But they aren’t always that safe to be around…

Of course there was plenty to see aside from the big cats…

And finally it was time to move on, across the Southern Serengeti Plains, to Loliondo. It rained part of the time as we drove, but that only added to the drama of the scenes we were seeing.

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When we arrived in Loliondo we loved the little yurts for the dining room and bar, where we had a workshop review session and enjoyed a three course dinner in comfort.

The following day we went walking and learned a little macro photography:

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And were also able to spend some time in a Maasai village taking portraits.

What we hadn’t anticipated was the evening’s entertainment…

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and so did they…In fact they enjoyed themselves so much, that they stayed!

This really was an incredible trip – one I’d highly recommend. Huge thank yous to Paul, Tim, Andrew, Mike and our fantastic driver Phillip who all shared the trip with me and made it so much fun!

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6 responses

  1. Tim

    Great stuff Mel, really impressive shots. Loving the panning on the Cheetah.

    March 28, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    • Thanks Tim! Have thoroughly enjoyed sorting through them all! Glad you like the cheetah – it’s not quite PJH’s famous shot but I’m working on it! We were so lucky to get such a lot of cheetah action there.

      April 1, 2013 at 3:13 pm

  2. carriepots

    Just simply wonderful Mel … I almost feel as though I have been there myself and you make it all feel so vivid and interesting … stunning photos … maybe the best is the landscape in dawn sun ‘getting up at 5.30 a.m.’?? Or the incredible sunset ? The two zebras facing away from each other ? The egret ? The Masai … The incredible lion ? it goes on and on …
    REALLY, REALLY GREAT. WELL DONE!

    March 28, 2013 at 6:42 pm

  3. shane grantham

    Not a bad photo in the bunch! How do I get to visit you and Damien? Much love and respect on your work.

    March 29, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    • Shane just tell us you’re coming and we’ll get onto making plans! Would love to show you guys around 🙂 x

      April 1, 2013 at 3:10 pm

  4. Aditi Joshi

    Hey Miss Wilkin, How are you, um miss I wanted to ask you if it is possible for me to help you in anyway, for the book you are writing. I would be delighted to help you. Thank you Aditi.D.Joshi

    May 25, 2013 at 3:49 pm

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