26 July 2012 by Melanie-Ann Feris

On a photographic safari

A recent trip to the Madikwe Game Reserve introduced me to the world of photography. I’m now addicted.

An elephant having an early morning snack.

Blinkies. Bloody blinkies! Before I went on a photographic safari in the Madikwe Game Reserve, I could take pictures and blinkies didn’t exist for me.

Half an hour in the bush with renowned wildlife photographer Roger de la Harpe and his author wife, Pat, and the illusion I was under – that I could take pictures – was shattered … and blinkies had become the bane of my life! (For those of you who don’t know, ‘blinkies’ refers to a setting on digital cameras that alerts you to overexposure in your frame.)

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to go on a photographic safari with a small group of avid photographers.


										Trees reflected in the waters of a dam on the Madikwe Game Reserve

It meant early mornings, late evenings and hours and hours of looking through a camera lens; learning about F-stops, apertures, saturation, rule of thirds and de-noising; how to prevent blinkies; and even how to use a beanbag to steady the camera. (I later even received a private lesson on how to make my own beanbag from a pants leg, instead of spending hundreds of rands on one from a camera shop.)

They were the best four days, of learning, in my life!

The classroom was the Madikwe Game Reserve, while 5-star Jaci’s Lodges hosted us. The reserve’s inhabitants – elephants, zebras, giraffe, birds, wild dogs, lions and trees – were our subjects.

Besides the great photographic education, we also shared some memorable experiences: while taking pictures of some elephants having an early morning snack, a curious young female came right up to our vehicle and started a conversation with us – curiously sniffing at us with her trunk and gently trumpeting, before calmly walking away a few minutes later.

That was the closest I’d ever come to a wild elephant.

We also enjoyed a night picnic in the bush, where after supper we were taught how to take pictures of a night sky. We arrived at the designated spot to find an area lit by a roaring fire, meat being braaied and tables laden with other goodies. Lanterns hung from nearby trees, throwing a warm light over the area. And overhead it seemed the stars were so close that they could be plucked from the night sky.

The classroom was the Madikwe Game Reserve, while 5-star Jaci’s Lodges hosted us. The reserve’s inhabitants – elephants, zebras, giraffe, birds, wild dogs, lions and trees – were our subjects.

But the best experience, for me, was the day we were taken to a wild dog den, where a litter of puppies had been born just a few short weeks before.

Quietly we waited, camera lenses all focused on the den opening. Eventually an adult dog crept out of the den and, after a while, 1 puppy after the other – 13 in total.

We spent hours taking pictures of the pups as they fed off regurgitated meat, suckled and played, all the while being watched over by the adults of the pack.

It was an absolutely unique experience.

Too soon the photographic school was over and we had to leave. I learnt so much and I’ve come away with an addiction to photography. Now I just need to find a sponsor who will keep me in cameras and lenses.


										A glorious sunrise

Category: Wildlife


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