This Week At Angama #11

20 April 2018 | This Week at Angama |

Reading Time: 6 MINUTES

A journey of giraffes makes for an interesting encounter this week, while continuing dramatic weather offers exceptional afternoon landscapes. Plus a very special celebration

The typical lovely April rains continue this week, with afternoon storms sweeping across the Mara, except for one fluke day when it drizzled from dawn until dusk (felt a bit like home in Seattle). But water is life, and we never complain – nor do the animals, as fat and happy as can be, enjoying the 24/7 buffet of verdant vegetation. Birds are in breeding plumage, singing their tiny hearts out, and it’s never been easier to spend an entire day in the Mara without seeing another vehicle. It seems the entire Mara is celebrating, so we joined in with a special celebration of our own.

Angama in the Mist

You might notice that a few of my photos this week are in black and white. Clouds and dramatic weather can just as easily mute colours as it can illuminate them, depending where the sun relative to your subject or field of view. When the colours aren’t adding to the photograph, I convert to B&W in Lightroom to make the image simpler yet more exaggerated. That was the case here, where I thought that Angama’s North Camp peeping out of the clouds in the first light of the morning made for a compelling image. [f 5.6, 1/80, ISO 800, converted to B&W in Lightroom]

Banded Mongoose

Last week featured a business of Banded Mongooses working over a termite mound; this week, I managed to frame a single mongoose in a way that gives the animal a bit more character and personality. [f 5.6, 1/500, ISO 400]

Giraffe Journey on Road

Giraffes are naturally curious animals, and this journey ambling down the road was no exception. We stopped well ahead of them, and they formed a single-file line to slowly approach us, continually stopping to purposefully check us out before finally diverting off the road a few meters away. I made sure to use a wide aperture, partly because of relatively low light, but more so that there was a shallow depth of field, highlighting and bringing focus to the lead subject. [f 5.6, 1/640, ISO 800]

Twisty neck

Giraffe Knees

Oxpecker and giraffe feet

Giraffes are notoriously difficult subjects to capture well in a portrait – they are so big, in such strange and ungainly proportions, that it is difficult to do them artistic justice. Sometimes you might get lucky when they do a contortionist act with their necks, but you can also often capture the essence of a giraffe by focusing on the abstract, such as just the knees or feet. [f 5.6, 1/400, ISO 400 f 5.6, 1/250, ISO 400, converted to B&W in Lightroom f 5.6, 1/400, ISO 400]

Gnarly Hyena

Hyena staring down road

Hyenas are wonderful subjects. They are so variably charismatic, playing the malicious villain, the goofy comedian, or even the unlikely adorable cutie (yes, hyenas can be cute). I love how gnarly the tatty-eared matriarch is in the first photo, and how the hyena in the second photo seems to be contemplating the road ahead. [f 5.0, 1/2500, ISO 400 f 5.6, 1/125, ISO 800]

Kestrel Silhouette

Simplicity is sometimes the way to go, and this Grey Kestrel perched on a snag with a uniformly bright background offered a great opportunity to create a simple yet compelling image. [f 5.6, 1/1250, ISO 800, converted to B&W in Lightroom]

Pin-tailed Whydah

Between the whydahs and widowbirds, we have 6 species commonly found in the Mara Triangle, all of which are in their extraordinary breeding plumage this time of year. They can be frustratingly difficult to photograph as their hormone-driven brains keep them constantly on the move, chasing off rival males or trying to woo a potential mate. This male Pin-tailed Whydah was very obliging. [f 5.6, 1/400, ISO 400]

Submerged Hippo

There must have been heavy rain in the Mau Forest, birthplace of the Mara River, in the last few days. Here, a hippo is fully submerged where there is normally tall grass in a wide lugga, but the Mara River was so high at times this past week, that in some places it broke the bank and flooded small tributaries such as this one. [f 5.6, 1/500, ISO 400]

Quintessential Mara Landscape

Spotted Landscape

Wave Clouds

Here are a few fun photos of the Mara landscape from this past week. The last is more of a “record shot” of amazing cloud formations than it is a compelling photograph, but it was so unusual and interesting that I felt it was worth sharing – sky waves? [f 4.5, 1/5000, ISO 400] [f 5.6, 1/4000, ISO 400] [f 5.6, 1/6400, ISO 400]

P eating cake

Davii at Ps Birthday

Happy Birthday P

And finally, a very Happy 1st Birthday to our son, Perrin. His Nana & Babu (Ty’s parents) came all the way from Seattle, and together with some visiting friends and the Angama Family, we enjoyed a nyama choma (Kenyan BBQ) in the canteen, where P also thoroughly enjoyed his first taste of cake. I used my 50mm f/1.8 lens for these photos, which is such an awesome (and relatively inexpensive) little lens for portraits. Happy Birthday, Perrin! [f 2.0, 1/320, ISO 800 f 2.0, 1/100, ISO 800] (Photograph by Jeremy Goss) [f 1.8, 1/200, ISO 800]

AUTHOR: Tyler Davis

Guide and birding fundi, Tyler was also one half of the regional director couple that lead the team at Angama Mara for the first five years. Being the birding extraordinaire that he is, he was known to let his attention wander during meetings. The trick to keep him focused was to place him with no direct view of anything feathered. Tyler ensures that we are a grounded and well-rounded team. He also sometimes forgets to take his binoculars off at dinnertime.

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