Can you imagine if…

Andrew Beck Andrew 4 Comments

If you’ve joined me on safari you’d be intimately familiar with me and this exact phrase.

Most of the time the words that follow the “Can you imagine if” statement don’t come true but, can you imagine if this leopard came back to its Oribi kill in the Masai mara?


Can you imagine if a leopard and cubs came out and lay on this rock in Tsavo West…


Can you imagine if an elephant stepped out into this clearing in Amboseli?


You see, I am always looking out for the potential photographic opportunities. Anticipating moments which, coupled with an understanding of animal behaviour, could provide the best possible photographic opportunities.

Sure, most of the time its wishful thinking, but when it all comes together it allows us to be prepared and ready to capture magic.


We had seen the elephant herd moving in the thick Fever-Tree forest and anticipated their movement towards a gap in the tree line. We sat and waited patiently, first for the cow to appear and the secondly for her calf to move out of frame, keeping the scene clean and simple.

This sort of scene evaluation and anticipation may result in is positioning the vehicle in “sub optimal” positions for specific moments whilst the focus is placed on anticipating a scene with the best possible photographic potential..

This sighting of a lioness in Madikwe for example saw her seated against some dense bushes whilst stalking a nearby herd of impala.


Rather than positioning ourselves for an average shot of her in the shade I evaluated the scene and spotted an area of backlight grass which, if she continued her advance without changing direction too much, she would walk straight through.


We sat patiently for almost 10 minutes as we waited to see whether she would make me look like a hero or a villain. Luckily for us my understanding of animal behaviour came through on this occasion.


When you start to evaluate scenes rather than chasing photographic subjects you open up a new world of photographic opportunities. An afternoon drive during a recent private guided safari brought us to a pan in Madikwe’s Ambush Alley. The dam wall was set in brilliant light with the background of the hills in shade.

An exposure nightmare for some but for me this scene was loaded with photographic potential. Anything seated on the wall was immediately set against a beautiful black background making for some “studio type” lighting.


I actually uttered the words “can you imagine an elephant walking over this wall to drink” to my guest.

Its late afternoon. Winter. The potential was there.

We weren’t going anywhere.

Half an hour later and we were rewarded.


We didn’t have to rush to get into position, that was already taken care of.

Our settings were all dialled in in anticipation of the moment. No panicking or scrambling.

It was an incredible sighting. So much so that our entire next afternoon was spent in the exact same space given that the scene and light held so much photographic potential.

This is just one of a number of elements that the wild Eye team brings to each and every photographic safari that we run.

Next time you’re out in the field, looks for scenes that have photographic potential rather than just focussing on chasing the subjects. You may be pleasantly surprised with what you are rewarded with…

About the Author

Andrew Beck

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Very few people can tell you what their passion in life is. Even fewer will be able to tell you that what they do for a living is in fact their passion. My love for the bush and conservation took me on journey which would not only allow me to explore the continent which fascinates me so much, but to share my passion for photography and conservation with others. Be sure to check out my my website and instagram account.

Comments 4

  1. Martha Myers

    What a valuable insight, Andrew: imagine, wait, and let the image come to you. I must give it a try next month. Breathtaking light in these images, by the way.

    1. Post
      Andrew Beck

      Thanks Martha!

      Its just as much about the light and background as it is about the subject Martha.

      Always happy to sit and wait in a sighting and sure we will have ample opportunity whilst in the Mara together next month!

  2. Pingback: Can you imagine if… - Africa Freak

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