This Week At Angama #88 - Angama Mara

This Week At Angama #88

11 October 2019 | This Week At Angama |

In theory, the brief for this blog series is simple. Take photographs over the course of the week that sum up what is happening in the Mara. But by Week 88, the pressure really to create something even better than the last really kicks in

By the time you will be reading this, I will be in London. The reason? The launch of the Remembering Lions book, a beautiful coffee table ode to the remaining 20 000 wild lion left on the planet. Angama Mara has been actively involved in this book and we are proud of what the entire series has achieved to date.  [f 11.0, 1/30, ISO 400, -1.0]

Because of this, my time in the Mara was incredibly short this week. In fact, the photographs below were taken over the course of just one very rainy afternoon drive and one three-and-a-half hour morning drive. Regardless, these images still provide a very accurate representation of what a safari in the Mara is all about. Without further ado, enjoy six hours of This Week At Angama.

Giraffe

Realising I had limited time out in the field this week, I was desperate for an explosive set of drives. Regardless of the fact that I know as well as anyone that you can’t force nature to perform, I must admit I set off more determined than ever. And then it started to rain… and rain… and rain. You could batten down the hatches and head back for camp, or you could embrace the freshness that comes along with the rain and look for scenes that only arise in wet weather.  [f 4.0, 1/1000, ISO 200,-0.33]

Lion

In the pouring rain I managed to come across some members of the River Pride. I sat as the rain pelted down. At least I was dry in my car; the poor mother and cubs were getting soaked. After 15 minutes of rain, a short respite meant the cubs started to play. But first, a little shake to dry off. [f 4.0, 1/400, ISO 500, -0.33]

Two lions

In the foreground, one of the cubs sprints towards her sister. In the background, mother looks on. A high ISO was needed to get a fast enough shutter speed in the low light, allowing me to capture the speed in focus. [f 4.0, 1/1600, ISO 1250, -0.33]

Lioness playing

Play time. Even with the speed at 1000th of a second, you can make out the droplets of rain. [f 4.0, 1/1000, ISO 1000, -0.33]

More of the lionesses playing

[f 4.0, 1/1000, ISO 1000, -0.33]

Lionesses playing

[f 4.0, 1/1000, ISO 1000, -0.33]

Lion blur

The light was fading fast as yet another storm was rolling in. I made the decision to shift across to shutter priority and go abstract. Here, I went for a 30th of a second and panned with the running cub. [f 9.0, 1/30, ISO 250, -0.33]

zebra in the rain

I left the lion as they disappeared into the thickets for cover. In the distance, I could see a herd of zebra huddled up together in the open by the side of the road. They were waiting the storm out and I was excited at the thought of trying some slow shutter speeds on them. The intention here is to capture the rain droplets. [f 5.6, 1/60, ISO 250, -0.33]

zebras in the rain

I just love this shot. The driving rain, the eye contact, the unimpressed flattened ears. I had a chuckle to myself as I took this as my mind was narrating this from the zebras perspective. She was thinking how ridiculous humans are that they would voluntarily stay out in a storm like this to take photographs of animals when they could be out of the rain, wine in hand and settled beside the fireplace. [f 8.0, 1/50, ISO 400, -0.67]

zebra and wildebeest

I used this opportunity to play around with the camera and see just how slow I could go. At a 25th of a second, I loved how the rain looked against the dark forest in the background. [f 14.0, 1/25, ISO 400, -1.0]

zebra stripes

Never afraid to experiment, I opted to try a few in-camera double exposures. I wanted to showcase the ‘dazzle-effect’ created by the zebra stripes and so took an initial picture of a zebra looking at me and a second picture of a close up of her stripes. The result is interesting to say the least. [f 4.0, 1/160, ISO 250, -1]

Zebra skin

A more traditional pattern shot of a zebra’s coat. [f 4.0, 1/1250, ISO 200, -0.33]

Elephant skin

Whilst on the theme of skin and texture, I opted to spend a few minutes with a nearby elephant. [f 4.0, 1/250, ISO 400, -0.33]

Elephant eye

Textures and patterns of nature. [f 4.0, 1/500, ISO 500, -0.67]

two zebras

The rain paused for a while allowing me to get a few more shots. [f 4.0, 1/800, ISO 200, -0.33]

Gazelles and landscape

A hyena walking through the grasslands upset the gazelles who turned and ran off, jumping to show their strength and endurance. A low angle helped create a lovely landscape shot. [f 5.6, 1/1000, ISO 640, +0.33]

The river

There is nothing that makes me as happy as seeing the Mara River flowing. Earlier this year, I sat on the banks at this specific spot and was nearly in tears. The river at that stage was barely a trickle. This entire ecosystem is dependent on the health of this river. In Africa rain really is a blessing. [f 5.6, 1/200, ISO 640, +0.33]

Impala jump

Always be on the lookout for the little moments of magic that happen all the time out here. [f 4.0, 1/1250, ISO 160]

secretary bird

On the way out of the park, I couldn’t resist taking a picture of a very wet secretary bird attempting to dry off. [f 5.6, 1/1600, ISO 640, -0.33]

Balloon

I was up well before sunrise and into the park first thing in the morning. I knew I had to give an editing workshop in just a few hours’ time, and so I was photographing against the clock. As the sun rose, I realised that often you just have to look up for incredible moments. Simplicity is usually best. [f 4.0, 1/4000, ISO 320, -0.33]

Angama Lodge

And if you can’t find the treasure in front of you, be sure to turn around. Amazingly, that is my home – Angama Mara [f 5.0, 1/320, ISO 320]

car

This is Elsa, my trusty little Suzuki Maruti and the car from which most pictures taken in this blog series come from. This is also one of my favourite trees and spots for a morning cup of coffee. [f 9.0, 1/500, ISO 500]

landscape

I often fall into the trap of thinking that the bigger the lens the better. I urge you all, when visiting the Mara, to sometimes put on the short lens and go wide. Take home memories and scenes such as this and show the space. [f 7.1, 1/160, ISO 320, -0.33]

zebra and landscape

This is the Maasai Mara. [f 7.1, 1/100, ISO 320, -0.33]

Lions mating

I didn’t get to see them mating side on, and certainly not front on. The result is a rather graphic, and not that pretty a photo, however I wanted to include this as it shows the Half-Tail male in action. This male has been very scarce of late and there were rumours of his demise. Well I can promise you he is alive; although he does have a very bad limp. [f 5.0, 1/3200, ISO 200, -0.67]

Eagle

A rather beautiful western-banded snake eagle enjoying the morning sunshine. [f 4.0, 1/5000, ISO 320]

Tawny Eagle

A tawny eagle at rest. [f 4.0, 1/1600, ISO 500]

Marabou

A marabou stork in flight. [f 5.0, 1/4000, ISO 320, +0.33]

Before I had to make my way back to camp, there was one final last hurrah which was very special indeed. The radio crackled to life and Titus let us all know he had found a female cheetah moving north along the river. I was in the area and moved in. Twenty minutes of wonderful cheetah action, perfect for photography and the most magnificent backdrop of the escarpment. Many of our guests would spend hours following her, even watching her unsuccessfully hunting a gazelle on the short grass plains. How lucky are we?

Cheetah

[f 6.3, 1/2000, ISO 320]

Cheetah 2

[f 6.3, 1/1600, ISO 320]

Cheetah Front on

[f 6.3, 1/2500, ISO 320, -0.33]

Cheetah skin

[f 5.0, 1/5000, ISO 320, -0.33]

Beautiful cheetah

[f 6.3, 1/1600, ISO 320, -0.33]

Cheetah & game vehicle

[f 6.3, 1/2500, ISO 320, -0.33]

So even though I was not able to fully do justice to what happened this week in the Mara, I believe that I was able to showcase a tiny sample of just some of the exquisite moments that you can have here in a relatively short amount of time. Each drive is different to the last, every time I enter the park there is an air of excitement. Around every corner could lie something that makes your day unforgettable – and it is that feeling which keeps us coming back for more.

This Week a Year Ago 

zebra bum and wildebeests

Incredibly, this week a year ago was when the migratory herds reached their most intense. I will never forget the news that the herds were so big that Sir David Attenborough had flown in from the UK to be filmed for the closing sequence of what is rumoured to be his final documentary. Whilst this legend graced the Mara Triangle, I was in a car leading a photographic workshop in amongst the hundreds of thousands of gnus when suddenly I saw this lone zebra. Immediately I knew this would make a great shot. In honour of Sir David Attenborough I named this photograph ‘Standing Out from the Crowd’.

[f 4.0, 1/40000, 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.

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