2015 Retrospective: Intense and Focused
Wednesday, 2nd March, 2016
The year can be summarised as intense and focused, as the majority of images I captured during 2015 were in the Mara North Conservancy and Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, where we embarked upon an incredible seven-day safari with our friend and safari leader Mario Moreno.
Had the Kenya trip not happened, I suspect I would not have shot much.
We had some family in town from overseas, so I took the opportunity to shoot some cityscape images from a location at which I had not shot before.
One afternoon we headed to the Glebe apartment and I waited for the right light to capture some views of the beautiful city skyline.
This was the result:
And a little later, during blue hour:
This image of a kangaroo was one of the more pleasing images I captured on the day:
Later in the month, I felt compelled to head out and shoot another cityscape.
In the mid-to-late afternoon, I scouted for some vantage points along the western side of Circular Quay, and finally settled on the observation deck of the International Passenger Terminal, which affords a higher view, and additionally was empty and free from passers by.
It had been a slow, but pleasing enough start to the year.
In June, the photography I had been eagerly anticipating since we booked the trip the previous year, would finally happen.
So far I have published over 100 images from that trip, so I will not publish a great deal of those images in this article; but as the trip brought us a lot of first-time encounters, I will instead present some selected highlights from the trip.
We were based in the luxurious eco-lodge Elephant Pepper Camp, which afforded us total isolation and positioning right in the middle of where the action was.
This is a view of one of Elephant Pepper Camp's honeymoon/family tents:
Just about every day, we were treated to lions - most prominently, the Cheli Pride. One of the fantastic things about the Cheli Pride was its abundance of cubs, and on this trip, it was our first time seeing wild cubs, such as this cute little lion:
On one afternoon, we were fortunate enough to spend some time, in pleasing, afternoon light, in very close proximity to a lilac-breasted roller, where I captured this and a number of other images of the national bird of South Africa:
Naturally, a safari in Africa encompasses more than just wildlife - there are amazing opportunities for stunning, iconic landscape shots, and we certainly took advantage of that, rolling out into the plains in the pre-dawn darkness before other safari-goers were even awake.
This was one of my earlier landscape shots, captured during a moody morning:
On only our second day on this trip, we were treated to a number of first-time encounters. In the morning, we encountered our first Mara leopard, who was also also the first leopard we had seen in a tree; and in the evening we found our first male lion of the trip, again a member of the resident Cheli Pride.
Here is one of the stunning Cheli Pride males we encountered:
The day after we met the dominant males, we encountered numerous members of the pride, minus the males, feasting on a zebra kill the next afternoon. This was another 'first' for us, as we had hitherto never seen lions feasting on a kill. It was quite a sight, as this wider image shows:
Here is an image I captured of the lioness in the warm afternoon light:
Before long, a mighty rainstorm descended upon us, which made the big cat uncomfortable, as well as presenting challenges for us. As the rain began to subside, camera shutters sounded like rapid gunfire as we captured action shots of the lioness shaking the water from her head.
So far, the one species of African big cat we had never seen in the wild was the cheetah. On that trip, we finally encountered wild cheetahs. It was an exciting experience to firstly see them from a distance, and then drive to position ourselves optimally to be ahead of where they were headed. It became more exciting as the cheetahs got closer, and I had a few opportunities to photograph the family, which consisted of a mother and four sub-adults.
Here is one of the nicer images I captured of these amazing big cats:
It had been a long wait, but finally we spent some time with wild cheetahs.
Our next morning in the Mara consisted of a portrait shoot with Maasai tribesman called Baba, with whom we travelled to Mario's Tree, where we shot some dramatic silhouette portraits of him as the sun rose on one of our final days in the Mara.
Here is one of the more striking images I captured during the session:
At first, we spotted a young female leopard high in a tree during the warm afternoon light, but within a short time, a large, amourous male emerged from the thicket, and the two leopards began (or continued with) their ritual of rapid, exposive mating sessions, which can last for days.
We spent the rest of the drive witnessing this amazing sight, and the following image captures an intense moment as the female expresses her displeasure at the male's advances:
The next morning was our final, somewhat subdued game drive in the Mara before we would fly back to Nairobi for a night and another day before departing Kenya. We were fortunate to encounter a small pod of hippos in a watering hole, where I had the opportunity to capture some relatively close-proximity images, such as this large hippo on the bank, less than 30 metres away:
Before too long, this amazing photographic journey came to its conclusion.
After the intensity of our Mara trip, and my generally low photographic output before the trip, it was not surprising that I did not shoot much afterwards. In fact, I shot only one more image for the remaining six months of the year!