The plan for the day was to get up before breakfast and catch – we hoped – a classic Serengeti sunrise. Michael said to bring your long lenses as this helps make the already big African sun bigger. Me being smarter than that, left my really big lens home and sort of regretted it later. Managed a dawn shot of the moon before everyone jumped in the vehicles.
I believe we left camp around 6amish. Godlove sped out of camp followed by our other group looking for the ‘perfect’ tree for the shot. While everyone in my group are pretty good photographers, shooting this kind of scene required some guidance from Daniel. Soon in the dawn light we found ‘the tree,’ apparently it’s the same one they’ve used before – it’s a great tree too. We then settled down for the serious business of shooting sunrise. Here are a few of my better shots.
I had presumed that after sunrise we’d head back to came for breakfast but…no we started moving around again looking for animals. We saw the usual assortment of gisselle, heart beast, warthog, and lion of course. As we were shooting the lion, we noticed a hot air balloon launched in the distance (1-2 miles away). The flew very low to the ground for quite a while before disappearing into the morning haze. We saw elephant, zebras (appropriately turning their backsides to us), and more. Somewhere around 10ish, we found our way back to camp for breakfast and a break.
After a break, we piled back into the vehicles with all our gear with the direction that we’d be out all day from there on. We saw hippos, elephants, leopard, cheetah, marabou stork, guinea fowl, giraffe, hyena, giraffe, and more. I’ll again let the images speak for themselves.
Gear failure. Somewhere around mid-day as we were shooting yet another pride of lions, my K-1 decided to only work in manual mode. I didn’t understand it at first, but no matter what setting I selected with the mode selector, it remained only in manual mode. Auto focus worked but for the rest of the trip the K-1 is stuck in manual. Given that this is a relatively new to me camera, I was not happy to say the least. The K-3 continued to work just fine and I was glad I had a backup. Then…the aperture wheel on my K-1’s battery case stopped working as well. It’s not super important but, I was beginning to see a trend here. I have no idea why this would happen either. It’s sealed and even though we were in a dusty environment, this is the 4th base I’ve owned and none of them has ever failed like this. Not too long after this the really bad thing happened. My quite expensive DFA 150-450 lens, which was my main wildlife lens and had already provided me several days of excellent images, as I was zooming it out to max just separated into two halves with wires and parts showing. Um…this is not normal, I could barely collapse it back to its unzoomed mode. Realizing that I’d just had a major disaster, I sat for a few minutes and considered my options. My DFA*70-200 was available and with a 1.5x extender I could get some decent reach but it might be better on the K-3 with the cropped sensor. No matter what, I was clearly out of the long telephoto biz for the remainder of the trip. In 10 years of Pentax digital camera, I’ve had very few failures which were minor, but this was here now on Safari with at least a day and a half of shooting left. Sucks but I had to make the best of this. Daniel had said he never uses anything longer than 200mm anyway, so time to put that theory to the test.
Around middle of the afternoon, we hit a picnic spot on a small rise in the area. Complete with tables, bathrooms, and a food truck selling drinks (Zebra Refreshments – hmmm, not sure I wanted something coming out of a zebra). Anyway, the place was a bit shady and I got to shoot some field mice.
Saw lots more after this including a giraffe drinking water, (something to see really).
Oh, and giraffe drool…really
Not sure exactly but we’d generally worked northwest from camp all day, finding several groups of hippos near sunset we shot a lot of them be were quite far away from camp. Godlove, pushed the Land Cruiser hard near sunset to get back to camp and to find a good location for more sunset shots. We could not get to a great location and watched the sun’s disk disappear behind a distant hill. Might have been a nice shot but the previous day was better. Back at camp by dusk, we had a much needed dinner. I was really very tired but seeing a few night images from others the previous night made me give night shooting a whirl too.
Got to bed with directions to be fully ready to go by 6am again as we were packing up tomorrow and heading back to Karatu.