© Penny Robartes - Madikwe Bootcamp

Trip Report: Madikwe Wildlife Photography Bootcamp

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Penny Leave a Comment

March was definitely a month for Madikwe. Well, especially for me.

From the 2nd to the 5th March, I stayed at Tuningi Safari Lodge where I hosted a private photo safari at this wildlife destination. Having had pretty stunning photographic opportunities, to say I was excited to get back there a few days later would be an understatement.

From the 13 to 17 March at the private Nkurru Private Lodge I hosted 5 guests on the first ever Madikwe Wildlife Photography Bootcamp at the intimate and private Nkurru Lodge.

And it was amazing.

With a waterhole right in front of the lodge, the game coming (and running) down to it was plentiful and constant. Not a bad way and view to kick off the Bootcamp. Especially as you can see below, our guests really didn’t have to go far!

IMG_1704

After having a quick discussion around what the weekend held for us in terms of the outcome of the Bootcamp, it was clear that we had a group that ranged in technical and artistic knowledge. This is perfect for the bootcamp set-up as the small group size and the structure of the bootcamp meant that Marlon and I were able to focus and adjust according to each person’s needs, while still being able to accommodate the rest of the group at any one time.

Small group numbers + flexibility that a private lodge provides + outcome-based goals + dedicated photographic guides/lecturers = a weekend that will prove to change the way you see YOUR wildlife photography.

And on that positive note, we headed off into the bush.

Lights, camera, ACTION!

© Penny Robartes - Madikwe Bootcamp

The buffalo clearly got the memo and provided us with a great sighting to photograph. This actually was a great one to have on the first day of the bootcamp as shooting into the setting sun really makes you pay attention to your camera settings, and then some more! The constant change in light, animal movement and your composition is a lot to be aware of. This ‘awareness’ was something that would underline and start defining the Bootcamp and future photographic trips for the guests.

After quite an intense session on lighting and composition with moving subjects, we headed to the ever beautiful Tlou Dam for a more slow-downed pace.

It was a beautiful setting to end the evening of our first day.

 

March was definitely a month for Madikwe. Well, especially for me.  From the 2nd to the 5th March, I stayed at Tuningi Safari Lodge where I hosted a private photo safari at this wildlife destination. Having had pretty stunning photographic opportunities, to say I was excited to get back there a few days later would be an understatement.  From the 13 to 17 March at Nkurru Private Lodge, Marlon and I hosted 5 guests on the first ever Madikwe Wildlife Photography Bootcamp at the intimate and private Nkurru Lodge.  And it was amazing.  With a waterhole right in front of the lodge, the game coming (and running) down to it was plentiful and constant. Not a bad way and view to kick off the Bootcamp. Especially as you can see below, our guests really didn't have to go far!  IMG_1704   After having a quick discussion around what the weekend held for us in terms of the outcome of the Bootcamp, it was clear that we had a group that ranged in technical and artistic knowledge. This is perfect for the bootcamp set-up as the small group size and the structure of the bootcamp meant that Marlon and I were able to focus and adjust according to each person's needs, while still being able to accommodate the rest of the group at any one time.  Small group numbers + flexibility that a private lodge provides + outcome-based goals + dedicated photographic guides/lecturers = a weekend that will prove to change the way you see YOUR wildlife photography.  And on that positive note, we headed off into the bush.  Lights, camera, ACTION!  © Penny Robartes - Madikwe Bootcamp  The buffalo clearly got the memo and provided us with a great sighting to photograph. This actually was a great one to have on the first day of the bootcamp as shooting into the setting sun really makes you pay attention to your camera settings, and then some more! The constant change in light, animal movement and your composition is a lot to be aware of. This 'awareness' was something that would underline and start defining the Bootcamp and future photographic trips for the guests.  After quite an intense session on lighting and composition with moving subjects, we headed to the ever beautiful Tlou Dam for a more slow-downed pace.  It was a beautiful setting to end the evening of our first day.  © Penny Robartes - Madikwe Bootcamp

Our next morning saw us heading to the East where we were on the lookout for a pride of lions made up of three males and some females. On the way we saw loads of plains game and an abundance of birdlife, but the allure of lions is one that is hard not to felt, so we made our way there at a steady pace before the rest of the rangers and their guests got there.

As lions do best, we found a group of very lazy ‘flat cats’ tucked away in some sickle dead sickle bush. Lion’s sleeping do not make the most  interesting subjects to photograph. Mainly, in my opinion, is because the image predominately looks like one of a dead cat.

Not ideal right?

Wrong.

This is where composition comes into play and placement of the subject within the frame tells its own story. Looking at the scene as a whole, the colours are what stood out to me the most – the soft tan colours of the lion against the bright red hue of the soil – combined with the fact that it is a peaceful image of a very vicious and iconic African predator. How great is it to be able to get so close to it?

There is my story.

Below is how I told it.

© Penny Robartes - Madikwe Bootcamp

This was a great exercise to take our time with an play around, as it encouraged the guests to start ‘seeing’ in different ways, and how placement in the frame can affect the reading of the image dramatically. No longer do you need to put it on the third near the centre of the frame, with the what leading to the who and so on.

Placement is so important, especially when sitting in a game viewer and you are looking down at your subject.
But that’s a discussion for another day 🙂

With the Reserve being pretty dry due to the lack of rain, we had a lot of interaction by the waterholes with elephants, rhino, buffalo and the occasional plains game that were not chased away by the young elephant bulls. These sightings were great for practicing tracking on moving subjects, back-button focusing, AF modes, various compositions and more.

© Penny Robartes - Madikwe Bootcamp

© Penny Robartes - Madikwe Bootcamp

The weekend was one that not only provided great photographic opportunities and growth, but the combination of great guests and their appreciation for our natural heritage made it all the more successful.

Keep an eye out for the Madikwe Bootcamp guests portfolio blog which I will be releasing in the next few weeks.

It is sure to be a stunner!

Keep passionate and keep shooting.

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About the Author

Gerry van der Walt

I am a private and specialist photographic safari guide, public speaker, co founder of Wild Eye and wildlife photographer. Visit my website at www.gerryvanderwalt.com or follow my journey on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Periscope.  I look forward to changing the way you see the world! Have you checked out The Wildlife Photography Podcast?

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