We are now in the migration season and as I gear up for my annual Masai Mara migration photo tour series, here is a recap of some memorable moments I have had in the Mara with our guests during the last 7 years of the Nature Wanderers Migration Uncut series.
From effective utilisation of morning and evening light situations to river crossings to hunt sequences, every day in Mara requires planning and I take this opportunity to thank all our guests over the past so many years for believing in me as their photography guide.
Looking forward to continuing more exciting adventures in August – September 2017.
We wrapped up week 4 at Migration Uncut 2016. The trans Mara is teaming with wildebeests and the yellows of the Savannah are sprayed with black dots stretching right up till the horizon. Such sights are visual treats during the migration season. The week saw some river crossings yet again and the crocs did have a good time in the Mara river. A cheetah at the doorstep of our camp kept us busy on a few mornings by sprinting across the grasslands in search of his breakfast. The highlight of the week was a good session with a leopard at Double Cross. The young female I photographed as a cub last year has shaped up quite well by occupying a territory close to her mother’s area. We caught her mating in August 2nd week and this week she stalked majestically one evening but failed to catch the gazelle she was targeting.
Here are a few images summarising week 4.
My bookings for Migration Uncut 2017 are open. Feel free to send me an email on email@example.com to reserve a slot and be a part of the African photography fiesta.
It was a good start to our annual Masai Mara photo safaris as we are close to wrapping up week 1 of Migration Uncut 2016. We photographed some good river crossings, lion cubs and cheetah action this. The weather has been clear and we have had some great sessions with various subjects in the morning and evening light.
Leaving for a game drive now and sharing some images that wrap up this week.
Post a hectic 13 hours a day grueling schedule in the African bush, the 2015 edition of our migration campaign in Masai Mara, Amboseli and Tsavo came to an end. The last leg our Mara campaign gave us some great cheetah action, a few superb river crossings were halted because of brutal crocodile and lion assaults. The ofcourse continued making use of the morning and evening light searching for subjects that can make good images.
It was great to see a clear view of the Kilimanjaro when we landed in Amboseli and elephants against the backdrop of the majestic peak made it a perfect frame. I was particularly impressed with the dedication showed by my fellow photographers in Tsavo where they experimented with some unique perspectives of red elephants by burying themselves underground for 2 days. The tons of wide angle perspectives from Tsavo were a real treat for photography.
Here are some of the many moments witnessed in the past 10 days:
The Great African Migration is much more than the simple river crossing which you are visualizing. Here are a few numbers to sweep you off your feat! The true spectacle of the migration is 1,245,000 wildebeest, 200,000 Burchell’s zebra, 18,000 eland and 500,000 Thomson’s gazelle filling the entire stretch of Mara landscape.
When the savannah turns golden red in the month of July, and the zebra start pouring in across the river, the first herds of the wildebeest arrive and the feasting for the Mara’s predators and scavengers, begins.
The African Lion is the supreme predator of the Mara landscape and is a treat watch during the migration time as with a sizeable prey base spread across the Mara, the lion prides hunt strategically in the early morning or late noon hours giving you the chance to photograph these rare moments from close quarters in great light.
Often regarded as a shy, nocturnal animal, sightings of leopard in the Mara can occur even in the middle of the day and last for several minutes.
Although not as muscular as the leopard, the cheetah is built for sheer speed and is the world’s fastest land mammal and has been timed at 110 kilometers per hour. The Mara is one of the best places in the world to shoot a cheetah in full action as they often seek a vantage point on a fallen tree, termite mound or even car bonnet, to look out across the savannah for their next prey.
Canon Photo Mentor and Nature Wanderers Escort – Shivang Mehta – has lead multiple photography groups to Masai Mara for the Great Annual Migration. In addition to photography, his days in Africa are planned in order to understand the movement and behavior of big cats and other African wildlife. Prolonged patience, hours of wait and meticulously planned safaris have ensured that he extracts the best from an action packed day in the Mara.
Join Shivang Mehta for his 2014 Masai Mara expedition and discover the hidden secrets of the Savannah during this years Great Annual Migration.
The best part about photography in Masai Mara is the even light conditions. A slight cloud cover during the Great Wildebeest Migration months makes the light soft and apt for photography. Unlike Indian terrains, the Savannah lights are devoid of any obstructions and as a photographer you hardly miss any details while shooting in these conditions.
Post spending almost 12-13 hours on the field everyday, you hardly get 5-6 hours of light conducive for photography. The noons are normally spent with subjects lazing around in harsh sunlight and in anticipation of some action which may or may not happen on that particular evening. It was some of these noon hours during which I spent some time with some common subjects in Mara to create high-key images over a period of 2 weeks during the Wildebeest Migration of August-September 2013… Experimentation in photography is always great fun as it was in this case as well..
Here are some of the Highlights of Masai Mara from 2013 (click on the images to view the full screen on flickr):
As wildlife photographers we remain glued to our camera eye piece hunting for that fine intrinsic moment that tells a compelling natural history story. Well the eyes are trained for this and the outcome in the form of images is quite satisfactory but what we miss in this entire process is to absorb and connect with the animal and human emotions around us. During my recent visit to Mara this was one emotional incident that forced me take my eye off the camera and be sensitive towards what was happening around me.
The wildebeests kept piling along side the banks of the Mara river. The gathering gradually grew from hundreds to thousands and within a couple of hours around 30,000 wildebeests were waiting to take the final plunge countering the deadly crocs lazing around in the muddy river, for all the 30000 odd eyes could see was the lush cover of grass on the opposite side.
The stage was set and so were the audience. Around 50 vehicles were lined up on each side of the river with more than 100 photographers concentrating hard with fingers on the trigger. Suddenly a group of zebras stormed towards the river and the wildebeests who had been waiting for someone to take the first step followed them. This was yet another river crossing as the Great Annual Migration was underway.
Amidst the sounds of those 100 odd camera shutters a faint sound towards my right attracted my attention. A wildebeest stampede on the opposite side of the river forced me to remain focused and I kept shooting ignoring all the background disturbance. However this particular sound on my right was persistant and continued to distract me.
I finally took me eye off the camera and saw that a lady somewhere in her 50s was intently watching the proceedings at the river along with her 2 sons. Tear drops were rolling down her cheeks as she hugged her elder son and lifted the younger one on her shoulders so that he could get a clearer view. The families eyes were lit up with a mix of excitement, emotion and anticipation and by this time I had literally forgotten about the big river crossing which went on and on…
And finally after around 20 minutes when the last group of wildebeests made their way to the river she greeted both her sons with a statement that made my eyes moist. “We saved our entire life to witness this son… Now I can lead the rest of my life with peace for we have seen the nature’s biggest wildlife spectacle.”
For me it was a mere river crossing. Just another set of subjects and activity for pictorial documentation. For some it was their dream for which they have waited for years. It was indeed a special and privileged moment for me to be alongside that vehicle that day and feel the emotions that go hand in hand with sightings in the wild!