This Week At Angama #25

27 July 2018 | This Week at Angama |

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Everyday life and death plays out in the wilderness of the Maasai Mara, but nothing goes to waste

As the migration season arrives back in the Maasai Mara one thing is for certain: wildebeest and zebra will both start to feature more frequently in our weekly photographic tales. However, with this surge of life into the fertile grasslands so comes death. Crocodiles, hyenas, lions and vultures become increasingly prevalent, especially along the riverbanks. The sheer abundance of action and intense life-and-death encounters makes this an exciting and bountiful time for photographers. But attention still needs to be paid to lighting, composition and of course the other characters that bless this magical land. Enjoy This Week At Angama…

Zebra 2

Zebra numbers are swelling by the day. Out of nowhere suddenly thousands of these striped marvels appear from over the horizon. I look forward to the weeks ahead and trying to capture these animals in creative and unusual ways.  [f 4.5, 1/3200, ISO 250, +0.33]

Zebra roll
I love going out into the field with an objective  as  it provides focus and direction. As the landscape continues to dry out so dust becomes an everyday occurrence. You can either see this as a problem or turn it on its head and approach the dust as an opportunity. It  often  adds  drama and movement to images.  [f 4.0, 1/4000, ISO 250]

Ostrich dust

Many animals enjoy a good sand bath and this is a theme I will be pursuing in my photography as  the Mara  continues  to dry out.  [f 4.0, 1/1600, ISO 160]

Zebra at a river crossing

This week I  wasn’t  fortunate enough to see a crossing, but many of  our guests and guides did.  I guess I will just have to spend more time out there next week. Do you hear me complaining?  [f 4.0, 1/1250, ISO 250, +0.33]

Lioness in blur

I was out on my own and came across this solitary lioness. It was hot, the lighting was poor and the visibility terrible. I took this as a personal photographic challenge to leave the sighting with something. Of course, we all want lions in golden light and short grass, but nature is nature and sometimes we need to be creative. It may mean you leave the encounter having had a more intimate experience.  [f 4.5, 1/2000, ISO 250, +0.67]

crocodile mating

In between snacking on zebras and basking in the sun,  crocodiles do have fun.  [f 4.0, 1/1000, ISO 250, +0.33]

Yeow billed Stork fishing

Early morning lighting, pin-sharp focusing and a fantastically low angle  all  played out in this photograph of a feeding  yellow-billed  stork. This photograph was all about  positioning  the  vehicle  perfectly  to  capture  the natural vignette created by the vegetation and the reflection.  [f 5.6, 1/640, ISO 200, +0.33]

Sunrise and balloon

I have photographed this hundreds of times, but  there is always another shot…  [f 4.0, 1/800, ISO 100]

Elephants and balloons

By closing  down  the aperture, I  achieved a  better depth of field in this photo. In retrospect, I should have closed it down even further.  [f 11.0, 1/200, ISO 160]


Growing up in South Africa the  yellow-billed  oxpecker was a rarity  as  their numbers have plummeted. However,  happily  here in the  Mara the  population is  extremely healthy.  [f 4.0, 1/800, ISO 640]

Hornbill family and snake

[f 4.0, 1/1600, ISO 250, -0.33]

hornbill and snake long

Ground  hornbills have always been my favourite birds. It has to do with their family character, their behaviour and their amazing body details.  Note  the eyelashes! On this occasion one of the resident family members caught a snake and very kindly handed it over to the youngster. You can identify him by his pale yellow facial skin. It will take him (or her) over 4 years to finally achieve  the handsome  red colour  in adult birds.  [f 4.0, 1/800, ISO 200, -0.67]

Lioness in tree sitting

In all my time spent with lions I have never seen one sitting in a tree like this. Such confidence at such a young age.  [f 3.5, 1/800, ISO 320]Vulture in flight

[f 4.0, 1/6400, ISO 2000, +0.67]

Hyena face and vultures

[f 4.0, 1/2500, ISO 1250]

Hyena pulling

An unfortunate  zebra managed to make it through a river crossing alive, but only just. In the process it had its flanks ripped open by crocodiles. It died about 40 yards from the riverbank. First the vultures arrived, and then came the hyenas. The most entertaining four hours then played out as about 100 vultures and marabou storks devoured the free meal whilst being constantly chased away by a large clan of hyena.  [f 4.5, 1/1600, ISO 1250, +0.33]

Giraffe at sunset

Finishing off with something a little less dramatic and  more  gentle. The sun sinks below the Oloololo escarpment throwing out golden rays and silhouetting a giraffe.  [f 4.0, 1/5000, ISO 400]

AUTHOR: Adam Bannister

A South African-trained biologist, safari guide, author, filmmaker and photographer, Adam is, above all else, a gifted storyteller. After spending the past 10 years working in some of the world’s most beautiful wild places – the Sabi Sand Game Reserve in South Africa, Rajasthan in India, Brazil’s Pantanal, and the rainforests of Manu National Park in Peru – he is delighted to share his stories of one of the loveliest game reserves of them all, the Maasai Mara.

Diana Bell Miller
July 27, 2018

Awesome photos I will be at the Wild Eye Mara camp in 3 weeks for the migration, can’t wait. My partner David Mascall and I install the lighting systems on livestock bomas in the Mara. I have never seen a leopard and hope to see one this trip.

    Adam Bannister
    July 30, 2018

    Hello Diana, you are going to have a wonderful time in the Mara. The leopard viewing is always tricky, but there are a good number in the Triangle. To date we have recorded 23 individuals this year alone…

Francis Bagbey
July 27, 2018

Wish I had your talent for the technical
and artistic aspects of wildlife photography. Was in the Mara last August with a Nikon D 3400. Always used the Auto feature or the Nikon selected settings like people, mountains, flowers, action, etc. Some good memories of our safari time but nowhere near the quality of your photos. Keep ’em coming for Angama blog readers to admire!

    Adam Bannister
    July 30, 2018

    Thanks Francis – very kind to read your words. The truth is not long ago I too used to shoot on fully automatic. It takes time, practise and passion to get your photography to the next level. Stay tuned for more weeks of epic sightings.

Penny Skehan
July 27, 2018

Beautiful photos as usual and I really appreciate the accompanying commentary. This is the next best thing to being there in person!

    Adam Bannister
    July 30, 2018

    Thanks for the kind words Penny. I am glad to hear you enjoy both the pictures and the text.

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