Magazine article Nieman Reports

Using a Camera to Shoot the Big Five: A Retired Journalist Refocuses to Connect with 'The Slower Heartbeat of the African Bush'

Magazine article Nieman Reports

Using a Camera to Shoot the Big Five: A Retired Journalist Refocuses to Connect with 'The Slower Heartbeat of the African Bush'

Article excerpt

Being an expert with a camera is not required to take great wildlife photographs in South Africa's famous Kruger National Park in the province of Mpumalanga. Amazing opportunities present themselves regularly. On a day trip through the reserve a visitor can expect to encounter a large diversity of species and at least two or three of the "big five"--lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. Those most fortunate score five out of five.

A decent camera is required, but also valuable are alertness, patience and perseverance--three qualities I have learned the hard way since 1998, the year of my retirement from journalism. At first many prize photographs escaped me as a result of my hasty journalistic nature and lack of bush awareness. Then I toned down and refocused, changing my lifestyle to suit the slower heartbeat of the African bush. Not only did my quality of life immediately improve, but also the quality of my photographs.

Although strictly an amateur, I am thrilled to have the walls of our bush cottage in Sabiepark, a private reserve neighboring the Kruger, be adorned with dozens of special wildlife images. These pictures include members of the big five and also stately giraffe, graceful impala, quaint wildebeest, plump zebra drinking at water holes and cheetah and hyena on the prowl. There are a fistful of many impressive birds, too, and all of these were shot with my Canon EOS 500N fitted with a flash and a modest 75-300 zoom. I often rely on automatic mode. …

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