It is always special to experience the bush through a guest’s eyes – especially someone who visits South Africa for the first time. I was fortunate to host our guest from Canada for 4 days at Simbavati River lodge in the Timbavati recently on his first trip to South Africa.
Our first few game drives were beautifully sunny and allowed for perfect golden light on our subjects. The Big five were not scarce and our guest was more than thrilled to have spotted four of them during the first day. There was no shortage of close up elephant shot opportunities – which made for arty black and white shots during post-processing. Then on day 2, the wind and rain arrived. With our gear (and ourselves) covered in ponchos, we set off and didn’t let the rain stop us from looking for the more unusual photographs. There are plenty photo opportunities out there – despite the rain. We found one of the biggest male leopards in the area, walking through the rain on his way to some Impalas. The mood of rainy photographs is much different to the normal photograph and with a fast enough shutter speed and shallow depth of field we could capture the leopard surrounded by fine drops of rain.
We practiced some rim lighting on a male lion at night with the help from another vehicle and also headed out one evening after dinner to capture the Milkyway. We were slightly concerned about the far off lights from a town as well as the moon being half full, but in actual fact this did not affect our photo’s – always remembering to keep our shutter speed at a minimum so that we didn’t let in too much light but just enough to capture the stars. The skeleton of a dead tree – which we painted with light – made for a beautiful foreground subject ; the Milkyway providing the perfect backdrop.
In our morning theory sessions we covered various topics – breaking up the develop module into each tool and slider, ordering and labelling photo’s for easier workflow as well as setting up develop presets to decrease post-processing time. We also went through the days photographs and reviewed the techniques used out on game drive – backlighting, rim lighting, under-and overexposing, high-key and low-key shots and zoom bursts to name a few. I also convinced my guest to try out back button focussing which he took a while to get used to but after a few “remember your thumb!” reminders, he was shooting away happily.=
Our last game drive was the cherry on top. Five minutes into game drive we saw what looked like jackal silhouettes on the ridge…but our guide soon realised that they weren’t jackal silhouettes, the were indeed Wild dog silhouettes! As we hastily made our way to the dogs, we made sure our shutter speeds were fast enough to capture these elusive dogs. Talk about perfect light!
A satisfied guest left Simbavati for the next leg of his Africa trip with a basket full of new tricks and beautiful photo’s.