Excellent Photo Adventures: Yellowstone Fall Rut

There’s a chill in the air, the colors are turning to vibrant yellows and oranges, the wildlife is at it’s peak.  Ah, Yellowstone, it’s good to be back and sharing the wonders of our nation’s first national park with fellow adventurers!  The days have been long and I’ve barely been able to download cards, charge batteries and ready my equipment for the next day so, for now, simply enjoy a few photos…

Nikon D4, AF-S 70-200mm f2.8 VR II with TC-20E III

 

Nikon D4, AF-S 14-24mm f2.8

 

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR

 

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR

 

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR

 

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR

Kenya: Lake Bogoria

From Wikipedia:

Lake Bogoria is a salinealkaline lake that lies in a volcanic region in a half-graben basin south of Lake BaringoKenya, a little north of the equator. Lake Bogoria, like Lake NakuruLake Elmenteita, and Lake Magadi further south in the Rift Valley, and Lake Logipi to the north, is home at times to one of the world’s largest populations of lesser flamingoes. The lake is a Ramsar site and Lake Bogoria National Reserve has been a protected National Reserve since November 29, 1973. Lake Bogoria is shallow (about 10 m depth), and is about 34 km long by 3.5 km wide, with a drainage basin of 700 km².

With all the flamingos gone from Lake Nakuru (there were a couple hundred dotted around the lake), we decided to charter a plane and fly over Lake Bogoria to try to get some aerial images of the flamingos there.  Well, it turns out that “We should have been there yesterday!” all the flamingos had left Lake Bogoria too.  There were several thousand but, not anywhere near the pink bathtub ring we had hoped for.  Nonetheless it was a great flight and I managed to capture a few keepers.

We began with an early start from Lake Nakuru and while we were waiting for our plane to arrive, we were photographing the sunrise and nice light on the trees when we discovered a big male lion in the brush watching us.  Unfortunately, my big lens was with our guide and our plane was on approach so, I made an environmental portrait of the handsome guy…

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 VR

 

Our plane landed and we quickly jumped aboard and took off for Lake Bogoria.  As we approached, I began to see pinkish dot’s scattered around the lake…

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 VR

 

The noise from our plane would cause some of the flamingos to take flight…

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 VR

 

creating interesting patterns and shadows on the water…

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 VR

 

As we flew around the lake a few times, I would direct the pilot where to go looking for interesting groups and backgrounds…

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 VR

 

While Lake Bogoria did have some of the algae that the flamingos need…

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 VR

 

there wasn’t enough to sustain the millions of flamingos that they are known for.  It gives me something to shoot for on my return trip next year.*  Stay tuned.

*If you are interested in “Kenya: An Excellent Photo Adventure Of A Lifetime” contact me for more information.

 

Kenya: Lake Nakuru National Park

From Wikipedia…

Lake Nakuru is one of the Rift Valley soda lakes at an elevation of 1754 m above sea level. It lies to the south of Nakuru, in the rift valley of Kenya and is protected by Lake Nakuru National Park.

The lake’s abundance of algae attracts the vast quantity of flamingos that famously line the shore. Other birds also flourish in the area, as do warthogsbaboons and other large mammalsBlack and white rhinos have also been introduced.

*Note: Due to the heavy rainfall this year, the fresh water content in Lake Nakuru has prevented the algae from growing and the flamingos have gone elsewhere.  But, that didn’t stop us from having a wonderful time with many great subjects to photograph.

We began our morning working with birds.  A Secretary bird perched in to top of an Acacia tree with blooms posed nicely…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-14E II

 

We worked the White Pelicans and Yellow-billed Storks in flight in the morning light…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-14E II

 

We were rewarded with a sighting of a lioness hiding in the grass watching for a suitable meal.  It’s amazing how easily they can disappear in the grasses while they stalk their prey…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-20E III

 

I just couldn’t resist more Olive Baboon photos since they were posing so nicely for us…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-20E III

 

The youngsters are so much like kids.  They love to explore, and play in the trees…

Nikon D4, AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II with TC-20E III

 

As we rounded one corner we found an entire troop of baboons making their way along the road…

Nikon D4, AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II with TC-20E III

 

Black-winged Stilt kept teasing me as they flew past until one finally came to within a good range to make a few images…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-14E II

 

A rare treat was the Malachite Kingfisher that was perched on a log hunting.  It was so engrossed in looking for prey that it didn’t pay any attention to our approach…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-20E III

 

But, the true highlight for us at Lake Nakuru was the ability to work with the Rhinos.  Unfortunately we didn’t get any Black Rhinos but, the White Rhinos were around and we spent some time working them.  I looked for behavior that would make for interesting images like these two Rhinos interacting…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-20E III

 

I wanted to make a photograph that spoke of the subject and it’s environment.  I began with three rhinos in the frame with a Thompson’s Gazelle in the foreground which provides scale…

Nikon D4, AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II with TC-20E III

 

I then turned my lens on a lone rhino with it’s resident cattle egret and flamingos in the background adding a sense of place…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR

 

A full frontal view makes identifying a white rhino easy as it shows the wide mouth…

Nikon D$, AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II with TC-20E III

 

We kept working the rhinos moving forward as they moved past us until they finally moved into a position with their reflections in the water and a small flock of flamingos in the background.  This image tells the story of the subject and provides a sense of place with the flamingos included in the photo…

Nikon D4, AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II with TC-20E III

 

Our time at Lake Nakuru National Park was short but, proved to be quite productive.  Tomorrow we go in search of flamingos on our way to the Masai Mara.  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenya: Samburu To Lake Nakuru

With a nearly 600 km drive ahead of us we wanted to get on the road early with the intention of getting a morning game drive in as we departed Samburu for Lake Nakuru.  Patricks’s ever watchful vigil paid off as he spotted a leopard moving in the brush.  Within minutes there were vehicles everywhere looking for the leopard.  Patrick calmly took us away from the hubbub and right into position to make a few quick images of the leopard as she passed  by.  It was a short but, oh so precious moment…

Nikon D4, AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II with TC-20E III

 

It was only fitting to end our time in Samburu National Preserve withs a final image of an elephant and her very young calf passing by.  We simply sat there and enjoyed the sights, the sounds, the moment…

Nikon D4, AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II with TC-20E III

 

Farewell ele’s and to Oria, Ian and the rest of the wonderful people who make Elephant Watch Safari Camp so special.  Our time in Samburu was memorable and the friendships we made are something to cherish.  Good luck ele’s and to Save The Elephants in their difficult battle to keep poachers from killing these wonderful creatures.  I know that I will continue to help in any way I can through my voice and my images.

Our journey continued on for most of the day with a short break to stretch our legs and have lunch at Thompson Falls…

Nikon D800, AF-S 24-120mm f4 VR

 

We arrived at Lake Nakuru in the early evening to rain showers.  We took what little light we had and went exploring for a short game drive.  The water is HIGH!  All the fresh water has prevented the algae from blooming which in turn has driven the flamingos away.  That’s the downside.  The upside was that the higher water drew in lot’s of other birds that aren’t as common nor as easy to photograph with the high water bringing them right up to the road.  I like the moody feel of this Yellow-billed Stork posing while the raindrops made rings in the water…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 Vr with TC-14E II

 

So, while we had to raise our ISO to handle the low light the rain made the colors saturated.  The fur on this Waterbuck was rich in color and the diffused light made all the colors soft and muted…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-14E II

 

As if the increased saturation from the rain and the soft light wasn’t enough, the warm colors of the Impala contrasted beautifully with the green foliage…

Nikon D4, AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II with TC-20E III

 

I was delighted to find more Olive Baboons in the overcast light.  It’s so much easier to see their eyes with soft light.  This guy had a badly injured hand and held it up as if to show it to me…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-14E II

 

We were even fortunate enough to see our first two White Rhino (we would see 31 during our time at Lake Nakuru) with overcast once again being good light to show off the texture of their skin…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR

 

Poor Patrick had to endure the rain coming through the hatches and soaking him.  We were all soaked but Bruce and I were shooting, moving around, having a great time and Patrick was sitting there freezing in the cold rain.  But he was a trooper and stuck it out to the very end…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR

 

We have all day tomorrow at Lake Nakuru.  Stay tuned.