This Week At Angama #9

6 April 2018 | This Week at Angama |

Scarface, swimming baboons and just one wildebeest star this week. With Adam on a much-deserved break, Regional Director (and photography sidekick) Tyler Davis takes the reins for the next few weeks

After two solid months at the Lodge, Adam is back home in his native South Africa, enjoying time with friends and family, including his brother’s wedding. Before he skipped town, he left me with some wonderful photos from his last week of adventures in the Mara. I’ve thrown in a few of mine for good measure, including the stitched panorama above, illustrating a stunning and frequent sight at this time of the year: a brilliant sunset with moody skies set over the vast openness of the Mara. This drama alone is worth the price of admission to the Mara; of course, it’s the variety of characters below that keep us coming back for more…

Agama lizard female front

Agama lizard female on tree

Agama lizard tail up

I love this series of Adam’s of a female Black-necked Agama, an oft-overlooked subject in part because it’s found in trees but also because she’s not terribly flashy. But look closely and see why she shouldn’t be taken for granted: though decked out in earth tones, she is not only exquisitely patterned (just look at those beautiful diamonds running down her back), but she and her brilliantly-coloured male counterparts are also fascinating to watch, exhibiting an array of territorial and mating behaviours (including head and tail posturing). Photographs by Adam Bannister [f 4.0, 1/800, ISO 160]

Dung Beetles

Speaking of ignored subjects, how about these Sisyphus-esque dung beetles? When out on a drive, it is all too easy to only be on the look out for the charismatic megafauna. But often it’s the smaller creatures that provide more entertainment – would you rather watch some flat cats for an hour, with nary a whisker twitch, or find the humour and enjoyment of a pair of tireless dung beetles rolling the perfect ball in which to lay their eggs? And from a photography standpoint, Adam captured this perfectly, getting down low for a beetle’s eye-view. Photograph by Adam Bannister [f 4.5, 1/500, ISO 320]

Elephants at Salt Lick

How we are spoiled in the Mara Triangle with elephants, particularly during the wet season. Elephants are not the biggest fans of wildebeest (the noise, the flies, the inferior intellect and dull conversation), and tend to be more difficult to find in such lovely herds during the migration season. Photograph by Adam Bannister [f 8.0, 1/250, ISO 320]

Sunset rays

There is something exceptional about the way the sun shines in Africa. Where else can you find such dramatic, heavenly rays of sunlight beaming through clouds mounting for an afternoon thunderstorm? Made all the more dramatic by the Mara landscape, punctuated by Balanites trees. Photograph by Adam Bannister [f 5.6, 1/2500, ISO 500]


And of course, where there are beautiful sunsets, there are beautiful sundowners. Using a post-processing technique called High Dynamic Range (or HDR, utilizing 5 separate photos taken at different shutter speeds – very easy to do in Lightroom or Photoshop), I managed to create an image closer to what our eye sees than what the camera is capable of capturing. Photograph by Tyler Davis [f 2.8, ISO 200, HDR of 5 images at speeds of 1/60, 1/160, 1/400, 1/1000, 1/2500]

Hippo out of water

Hippos are most frequently seen snorting away in a quiet bend of the Mara River, or perhaps lazing on a muddy bank. It is always exciting to find one completely out of the water, moseying around – as long as you are in a vehicle. Photography by Adam Bannister [f 4.0, 1/2000, ISO 400]

Hyena face

Hyenas get a bad rap (we probably have The Lion King to thank for that, as much of a favourite as that movie might be for me), so I love how Adam captured the goofy, lovable smile on this hyena’s face. Photograph by Adam Bannister [f 4.0, 1/2000, ISO 400]

Scar face bw

After two months of hoping for an encounter with the legendary Scarface, I know how excited Adam was to find his old friend who he first met many years ago. Scarface is a notoriously difficult lion to photograph, to truly capture his majestic character in a single frame. Here Adam highlights the scarred yet dominant visage by turning the image to black and white. Photograph by Adam Bannister [f 5.6, 1/320, ISO 500; Converted in Photoshop to B&W]


I also had the good fortune of meeting Scarface this past week, and, like Adam, was given a challenge of trying to capture a good photograph. I like how this one turned out, with the namesake scarred eye framed by blades of grass, staring straight into my camera’s lens. Photograph by Tyler Davis [f 5.6, 1/640, ISO 400]


One of my favourite characters of the savanna drama, these shy yet comedic Bat-eared Foxes burst forth from the grass beside the road as we drove past, bounding ahead of the vehicle until they paused for a quick look behind them before once again disappearing into the tall vegetation. Photograph by Tyler Davis [f 5.6, 1/320, ISO 400 – desaturated in post]


Every year, a few stragglers are left behind from the migration. Or are they the smart ones, having a sea of grass to themselves, and a head start on mowing it down before their cohorts return? Photograph by Tyler Davis [f 5.6, 1/320, ISO 400]


While on the Sand River recently, I noticed a troop of baboons contemplating a river crossing. An unusual sight itself, what caught my eye was the big male afraid to get his hands wet. Photograph by Tyler Davis [f 5.6, 1/1250, ISO 200]


Baby anything are a photographer’s favourite subject, and lion cubs are no exception. And although I didn’t come across any tiny cubs this week, this photo is a good example of how important it is to take a close look at your subject. Notice the enlarged black teat just in front of this lioness’s left hind leg – a sign for me to revisit this patch of bush soon, to meet her cubs as she brings them out of the cover. Photograph by Tyler Davis [f 4.5, 1/320, ISO 400]

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.

Ellen Freschauf
April 6, 2018

Randy may have met his match in you, Tyler!

April 6, 2018

Thank you for capturing the magic of the Mara this week. Ty, your blog post captures an exciting week!

Leave a Reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*