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Young elephants in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania

Young elephants in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
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1 Comment | Report
coreenkuhn August 19, 2020
Beautiful Capture!

Behind The Lens

This photo was taken on the in Tarangire National Park in Tanzania during a 10 day photo safari.
These two were members of a family group of about 10 elephants we came across just before noon. They seemed to be a pretty close nit group. We followed them for about 20 minutes
Being close to noon, the light was fairly flat although there were a lot of clouds in the sky. One of the things I liked about these two was that one had recently had a dust bath near the river that was close by and had taken on the reddish color of the local soil. Next to his friend, he presented an interesting contrast I wanted to capture.
We were shooting from an open top land cruiser. My camera was braced atop a heavy bean bag on the rim of the roof. I was using a Nikon D810 with a Sigma 150-600mm lens set at 150mm. We were fairly close to the group.
I've been interested in environmental issues, nature and wildlife all of my life. I had an opportunity many years ago to go on a brief 2 day safari into Amboseli National Park in Kenya. Though brief, it was an amazing adventure none-the-less. That was a couple of decades before the digital photography paradigm shift. My equipment was relatively primitive by today's standards and, being film, I only managed to take 40 to 50 shots that I thought were pretty good for the time. I have wanted to return ever since. I was finally able to do so on a dedicated photo safari with far more capable equipment. This was day 2 of our 10 day African photo safari. Getting this close to wild Elephants was a privilege and thrill I will never forget.
This image didn't require a lot of processing. I did minor touch-ups to lighting and contrast with a small amount of sharpening in Lightroom.
In my camera bag
I recently sold my Nikon D810 and replaced it with a Nikon D850 along with a battery grip. I think it's one of the finest DSLRs ever made and I plan to get good use from it before replacing it with a mirrorless camera. I'm watching the evolution of mirrorless fairly close. Not quite ready to make the jump yet but the technology has improved by leaps and bounds and it becomes more enticing every day. Along with the D850, for extended trips I pack a Sigma 150-600, a Tamron 24-70 and a Tamron 70-200. For night sky work I most often use a Nikon 20mm f/1.8 lens and I have a Nikon 105mm for macro work. Other essentials for my pack are a remote shutter release, a carbon fiber tripod with a gimbal head, an LED headlamp with extra batteries, a small rain tarp and necessary lens cleaning supplies. I also always carry the camera's instruction book just in case. For single day trips, when I have specific objectives, I use a smaller pack and I take just the lenses and equipment I plan to use.
Hate to say it but for something like this, location is everything. You simply won't find a higher density and variety of large wildlife anywhere else on the planet but in Africa. Getting on board with a professional outfit employing expert local guides who know the places, people and rules is also very important. That will make or break your adventure. As for the photography, we were presented with a nearly overwhelming abundance of photo opportunities in all kinds of lighting situations. I've always been a manual photographer but I learned on this trip the value of shooting in shutter priority when the subjects were numerous and often moving or flying quickly. It was an amazing adventure and I had to remind myself every once in a while to put the camera down and just watch and take in the experience. In 10 days in Tanzania, I took over 4,000 photographs. It was an adventure I won't ever forget.

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