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John from Marblehead, MA

March - Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and South Africa

 

Something keeps luring Debby and me back to Africa. This was our seventh trip overall to sub Saharan Africa and the fifth to Southern Africa. The wildlife and scenery are clearly important elements, but equally important and rewarding are the people we meet in the camps and throughout Southern Africa. The relaxed lifestyle is delicious frosting on the cake.

The photo of the lion near the boarding steps almost didn't happen. We had sighted the lion near the middle of the airstrip and followed him as he wandered along its edge. I saw the shot of the lion juxtaposed with the danger sign in what would have been a good composition, but couldn't get the driver to stop! He was too intent on following the beast. When I finally got his attention it was almost too late, but judicial cropping (I crop many of my images) saved the shot.

The photo of the chameleon almost didn't happen, either. I was in the shower during midday break when Kay, the Kalahari Plains Camp manager, called to me from outside our tent to bring my camera. Thanks to my wife, Debby, who kept track of the lizard while I scrambled out of the shower, I got the shot.

I really enjoy flying at low altitude over the Okavango Delta. The abstract patterns that endlessly appear are prime material for my camera. I really like the "hippo highways" in this shot.

Visiting local villages and homesteads is always a treat. There are very few kids who don't want to ham it up for the camera and see the resulting images on the digital screen. Unless advised otherwise by a guide, I try to send copies to people whose pictures I take. Increasingly, this can even be done electronically with the cooperation of a camp manager and local printing services.

I abandoned film in favor of digital cameras in 2004. My primary camera on safari is a Canon EOS 40D with a Canon EF 100 - 400mm telephoto zoom lens. Since I prefer neither to change lenses in the field nor to carry two SLR bodies, I use a Canon G10 to cover wide angle landscape and macro shots. I don't use a tripod or monopod, preferring to brace myself against the vehicle, much like a marksman might. For shots around camp and in villages I usually use a Canon EF 24 - 105mm zoom or an EF 50mm, f1.8 fixed lens on the 40D along with the G10. With both cameras I shoot exclusively in the RAW format and transfer images to redundant portable hard drives, an 80GB Wolverine MVP and a 40GB Hyperdrive Space. This year I exceeded the Hyperdrive's capacity before the end of our 2½ weeks in country... time to replace its drive with a larger one! I process the images in Photoshop Lightroom 2 and CS3.

You can see more of my photos at www.pbase.com/h4xintl or view my book at www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/290722.

 

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