Over the long weekend of the 23rd September 2013, my kids, Tom and Anna and I joined some good friends for an unplanned trip to the Pilanesberg National Park. Despite my land rover’s alternator glowing bright red and catching fire on route (necessitating an AA truck to rescue us) we eventually made it to Pilanesberg in our alternate car the following day.
Much of the long weekend was cold and overcast but it did not rain. It however did make photography challenging but we were rewarded with some wonderful moments of diffused light as the sun shone through the clouds. The park was dry as would befit the end of winter and the dams were low in volume.
On the wildlife front it was a really good trip, though I spent less time in the park and more time at camp.
My highlight photograph was a young zebra frolicking through the veld in subdued light on iso 400. I am very surprised to have gotten the shot since I was seated in the passenger seat and shot through the open window of the driver’s side across my friend Mike.
Another highlight was the stalking of four giraffe by a male lion. The giraffe saw the lion approaching them from about 200m away and they bolted at great speed. I managed to get a shot of the giraffe at full gallop. I believe the lion to have been stalking the youngest member of the herd.
My son, to whom I had given my old Canon 20D, had a field day using the camera in combination with the 70-200mm f4 and his photography is developing nicely. This combination of lens is both light and manageable for an 8 year old and will nto break the bank if dropped. I also used the trip to use my 1.4 Mk II converter on my 300mm f4 IS lens. Though autofocus was slower, it was accurate and I was happy with the results.
Another great moment was the arrival of two herds arriving at the small Pilanesberg centre waterhole. There was a lot of pushing and shoving by the adult members of the opposing herds, with their babies screaming in disgust and rushing away from the action, staying close to their mothers. One particular shot I really like is the contrast of an elephant in the foreground spraying water, with an elephant in the background with the dust on the left. The elephants took every opportunity to chase away the giraffe and warthog which were also trying to use the water hole.
I am looking forward to getting back to Pilanesberg in springtime and hopefully seeing more birds as they migrate back to South Africa for the summer.