Africa 2016

Africa is a stunning place and yes, like all countries there are the unsafe area’s that one wouldn’t travel to. I take my guests to the safe areas and all I can say, if you haven’t done Africa before,  then save your pennies and if there is one trip that you ever do, let it be Africa as there are so many layers to it.

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I have spent a month shooting Antarctica and if I had to make a choice between the two, Africa wins hands down as there are so many layers to her. Don’t get me wring, Antarctica was stunning but Africa for me, offered way more in the richness of photography and the layers that are there.

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This blog will take you on a journey that covers three tours that I’m running back to back. The writing will be briefer than normal as it is not always easy to get access to the web to post this. I would like to thank those who intend to read my blog. I’m not a writer and I’m sure there will be things that are not grammatical correct as I tend to write how I think and this will be reflected in my posts.

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I have several trips to Africa that are covered in this Blog and the first takes us to Victoria Falls. My guest of this part of the trip with Ruth and Karen who were having their own private tour with me to Africa.

What these girls have learnt from this trip, the enormous difference being on a Pete Dobré Photographic Tour to Africa as compared to a safari and there is a big difference. They have learnt how being on photo Tour, is that you are not competing with 9 others for the shot; there are only 4 in each vehicle as completed to anything up to 12. You all have a view, you have room to move and working with others who know photograph, wherever they can, they will place us in the right position where the light is best on the subject. We can’t control all situations but wherever we can, we will always do our best. The other important thing is that I’m there to help you and Ruth can verify that for you. So lets begin this journey to Africa.

Victoria Falls has a magic of it’s own and where ever there are waterfalls; we are all drown to them. There is something about water pouring over the edge whether it be an enormous set of falls or whether it be a small quaint falls. I think we are draw to them, as I really believe they relax the soul and water has its own meditative properties to it. Always feels so much alive when standing or sitting looking at the waterfalls.

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You can’t help but stand in awe and you see the sheet volume of water pouring over the edge. Now if you were to do this trip in Australia’s summer months, the falls almost dry up to a trickle and that is so hard t believe when you see the falls in these pictures.

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I’m so proud of the girls as most girls like to look nice but you can throw that out in Vic falls as when the wind in blowing, you get saturated and this shows the commitment, the fun and the joy of shooting all aspects of the falls. Well done girls, I’m proud of you.

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The Victoria hotel is steep in history and I wont dwell on I but the present Queen of England and the Royal family have stayed there on a number of occasions and the Queen did at the beginning of her reign as queen. If you are into Architectural photography, you would have a ball here and these images are literally snaps and the inside shot were all taken on ISO 3200 on the Canon 6D which I’m so impressed with for low light. There is no way I could have taken the same shots with my old 5dmark

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Chobe

Chobe is like no other. I love this river; I love for what it offers to the wildlife photography. This is a tapestry of wild life no matter where you look and the way to do this river justice is to shoot from a boat. I use a group who specializes in photographic tours and this is so important as they understand the importance of light and I have used two of their guides and both have been outstanding.

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My guests are always rewarded on the river this the guides that I use and last year we had Charles, this year it was Janine and both as I have mentioned were outstanding. The images speak for themselves but one is amazed at what is possible to shoot from the boat as they get very close to the wildlife so filling the frame is not an issue if you are shooting anything between 100-400mm and if you have this in a half frame senor, due to the crop factor, you never have an issue.

We had a session where we were able to witness the stork breeding and nesting. This was an amazing time as not many people get to do this as this is not in the face of other people, we had to go looking for it  and our guides knew where to go and we were the only ones there . It’s little things like this that make your trip when you tap into local photo guides who know their stuff.

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We saw many things from the river and these pics are only a sample of the many images that were taken. No room to post them all .My third group in a few weeks time are going to be blown away with what they see and what they able to photograph.

 

We witness 4 male lions eating an elephant that had been brought down by the lions in the morning. This is a reminder of the circle of life. We had seen the elephant the day before, it was every thin as it had a broken left and could only hop from place to place and was restricted by how far it could go. Literally only a small radius as getting around of was hard.it was close to water to drink and had enough trees to feed upon but it was only time before this wonderful creature was going to fall. It was so sad to see but sadly that is reality in the circle of life here. They are all someone’s meal if they are careful.

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Being sunset, we had the golden light on the situation and all these animals were doing was their way of surviving  and nothing more. The lions were cuddling into each other after having some food to eat and they no doubt just see it as ” this is what you do here” in order to live.

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The Elephant by far is my favorite African animal and Chobe is one of the bets places in my opinion  to view these wonderful creatures. in this case I’ll let the images speak for themselves.

We live in a society that has the quickest means to communicate, we live in a society that prides itself on the internet, we live in a society where keeping in touch has never been easier and yet for all of the electronic devices, all technology has done is enabled us to loose the sense of community and a sense of belonging.

It has fragmented our society, we are growing more apart rather than growing together.

It has created an individualism as never seen before and yet we are told, this electronic age is to make things easier for us and yet in my opinion all it has done is fragmented society and added to the sense of lostness in the sense of community.

Where has the sense of belonging and community gone?

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The elephant I adore as they haven’t lost their roots, they haven’t lost there sense of belonging and caring and looking after each other and generation after generations the sense of community is preserved, treasured and past on.

We who are meant o be more intelligent have taken a big step backwards as in our advancement in the so called enlightenment age of technology. We have taken a massive step backwards and we loose our sense of belonging and community, we lose part of what it means to be human.

We can learn a lot from the elephant. This is not an outstanding picture but I love it as for me it is what it represents to me, community, life, purpose and mateship/bondship within that community.

Did you know , when a member of the elephant community dies with their group, and where they fall, and as the herd moves on, they make a journey once a year to go back to the place where they passed away to remember, to weep and mourn. That is stuff that inspires me and this is what has been lost in our very individualistic world view.

The elephant has remained steadfast and I adore it for that.

Africa can teach us valuable lessons of life.

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Now there are some other interesting things about the Elephant. I have always taught my guests to shoot wild life at that definitive moment as people will always remember that shot!!. Well this pic shows that and we were told that the penis of the elephant weighs 27 kilograms. Umm,  there is a saying that says ” size doesn’t matter” hahaha that will always be the debate with many haha

Have you ever noticed the ear on the elephant, it is in the shape of Africa and somehow I don’t think that was a design mistake or fluke. I do think it was designed like that on purpose.

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This by far has been the best place that I have had the privilege of going to. The staff were outstanding and the guides had a lot of knowledge in tracking and this was where my first encounter with lions took place.

On the Chobe, it is just not elephants although there are a good number there which is awesome but there are many bird types, crocs and hippos and the list goes on. The following pictures are a sample of what is out there on this awesome inspiring river.

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My group last year in the month that were in Africa, we never saw one lion and people in the industry that I have spoken since, say that it is highly unusual not to have had at least one encounter with the lion. This trip has changed all that around as we have seen lions 5 out of the 14 days.

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What I really liked about this place was the friendliness and the fact that nothing was an effort. All the places are like that but what sets this aside was that on our last day and Spike didn’t have to do this, he heard a lion at 5 am and in fact we all did and he changed the programme, sent a messenger around to all the tents asking who would like to go out to track the lion. Keep in mind it was dark, they could have stayed in bed but Spike knew it was our last morning as we had to leave at 7.30am. Breakfast went out the window which was a good thing because the results of them taking extra care was the pictures that we got of “ Aslan “ in the early morning sunrise. I may not have seen an lion at all last year but this made up for that 100 fold due to the light. If I ever do a book on Africa, this series of pics will be in that book and unless something comes along better, I’m sure one of those shots would make the front cover.

When we saw Aslan at 5.15am it was a sensational feeling to see this awesome animal for the first time and he is such a good looking example of the lion kingdom.

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How these guys tracked Aslan in the dark is beyond me but their skills in this area were unreal.

Another highlight in this camp was that Spike although he was not photographer, knew the important of light and was more than happy to assist us with that and we missed lunched as we wanted to stay at a hide that was there all day, so we had a panic lunch which was awesome.

 

Now I would like to state to two things here. The difference between a photo tours with myself as opposed to a safari. I have mentioned this before and yes, I’m a broken down recorded but the difference is huge.

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This place demonstrates this. We went to a water hole, which was very small, 30 metres in circumference and when we arrived, they’re as nothing there. In fact it was not an attractive place to stay at but we had decided we would wait an up to 90 minutes. In that time, people would have come and gone, but we stayed and we were quite, just whispers and wow were we ever rewarded. One elephant arrive about 70 minutes into the wait, was on our side and ever so close to us, no more than 5 metres away and within another 10 minutes a few more and then more and before we knew it, we have 30 elephants in this very small water hole and what we witness was truly special as we were the only ones there, we bothered to wait and the images shot were so special. As my lens had packed up I had to work so hard to even get a reason decent shot and I was limited in what I could do but one just has to work with what you have.

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The other area where we waited, we spent an entire day at a hide in a very large waterhole. In that time people came and went and the time they came, not a lot was happening and yes there were quiet time but when no one was there, so much took place and the shots that we were able to capture there were priceless, We saw a pair of croc courting and having sex, warthogs having sex and the different animals that would come and go with glass like reflections was just priceless. That’s all came because we stayed a whole day in the hide, no one complained and they were rewarded with their shots. That’s a big difference between a photo tours being prepared to wait at a waterhole, as the animals will come, you just have to be patient for them to come.

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Through out our time here , every day we were blown away and as for our one of many encounters with Elephant, it will be a time that we will never forget. We arrived at a waterhole and there was nothing happening. With photography, you need to be very patient to wait. I mentioned to ” Spike” our awesome guide that we are happy to wait  and wait we did. After 90 minutes the first elephant came and within 10 minutes we had 30 elephants in such a small area. The water hole was not big and as a result they were so close to us.

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Africa continues to give you surprises and there is never a day when you are not amazed,

surprised and blown away.

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  • Helen Curtis

    Beautiful images, Pete! And such a personal and insightful blog post. Thanks for sharing; I might just get on one of the tours one day 🙂