There doesn’t seem to be anything more awakening to the mind and spirit than an African safari. In the Maasai Mara (an area of preserved wilderness in Kenya, along the Tanzanian border) it is as raw as it gets. The life vs death moments are gripping and hard to turn away from, no matter how gruesome. The incredible energy of the Mara has a heartbeat of its own. Everywhere you turn there is action and at any moment a life can be snuffed out—it’s real, it’s survival of the fittest.
Hours fly by like minutes as you are captivated by every single sight and sound that you are experiencing. You feel the burning sensation on the back of your neck from the scorching sun and it is only a slight distraction as there is so much going on and you can’t turn away for even a second.
Tenderness goes hand in hand with the relentless attacks and feedings. Knowing full well that each and every animal needs to eat— they are not getting any handouts. If you are unable to hunt –you will die. Lessons are taught to the young while other’s young ones are prey. There is no such thing as cruelty; it is the cycle of life, nature in its rawest form, nothing more.
With all of its tragic endings, near misses and triumphs, it is a photographer’s paradise. I guess that is why many tourists return year after year to Africa. I adore the big cats and could watch them for hours and hours. The Mara holds an even stronger draw for me with the opportunity to photograph Cheetah, making each and every safari an epic adventure.
Here are a few of my favorites that I have been able to work on. I have so many images to sort through still. Please click on the images to see the full size version and read my thoughts about each when you hoover over them.
I used the Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless for all of these images. I also used the Sony 200-600mm lens almost exclusively with no regrets! They both performed beautifully. The zoom capability which is internal made zooming with one finger very easy as I tracked the animals. The lens is also small and lightweight which made it very easy to handhold and a perfect choice to have on safari. It was also extremely sharp. I used it with confidence even with the 1.4 teleconvertor. The Sony a9 body was probably one of the best cameras I ever used for wildlife. Sorry Canon, but hands down, Sony beat you by a wide margin. I will definitely be purchasing the version II as soon as it comes out and has been reviewed. That said, my 600mm II and my 300mm II Canon lenses are for sale.