Trip Report: Wildlife Photography course 17-19 February 2017

Johan van Zyl All Authors, Johan 2 Comments

This past weekend was well spent by hosting our first Wildlife Photography course at Cheetah Ridge in the Nambiti Private Game Reserve for 2017.

Nambiti is an easy four and a half to five hour drive from Johannesburg.  Our departure from Johannesburg was especially early so that we could make the most of the Friday by planning to arrive at Cheetah Ridge around 09:30 or so.

Upon arrival it was a quick meet and greet session before we could make our way into the conference room and get underway with the presentations.  The presentations revolved around composition in Photography and the information is a lot to take in, that is why it is vital for us that we are as thorough as possible… without giving information overload!

Before we knew it it was lunch time and an opportunity to stretch some legs as well as indulge in the mouth watering platter of food that was presented to us.  After lunch we got to the bottom of the technical aspects in photography, and as all the guests had their cameras in hand, we discussed different Shooting modes from Auto to Aperture Priority, from Shutter Priority to Full Manual and what the advantages are of each mode.  We also discussed the meaning of Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO and how they all work together.  Personally one of the most rewarding parts of the course for me is when you see how people start to understand better how all these elements come together, it is a MUST if you want to take your photography to the next level.

Pretty soon it it was time to head out on our first afternoon game drive where we could put what we have learnt into practice.  Nambiti presents itself as the obvious and perfect choice when it comes to this Photography course because it has decent and enjoyable general game to photograph such as; Zebras, Eland, Blue Wildebeest, Impalas and Kudu, as well as also being home to the Big 5.  We had some good Buffalo and White Rhino sightings which was the perfect way to start.

Back at the lodge the group had a stunning meal which the team had set up in a private dining area for us.  The excitement of what we had seen during the afternoon and the fact that everyone was a little more comfortable with their cameras in hand was contagious and conversations were flowing as the evening went on…

As with any Safari, it was a nice early start and by 05:30 the wheels were rolling and we were back out there to see what we could find.  Another good drive with Buffalo’s and general game, but the Lions proved to be harder to find than we anticipated!

After breakfast at the lodge there was time to relax, read a book, charge up cameras etc before meeting back at the lodge again for lunch.   Any photographic questions that were still be lingering were also settle before heading into the conference room for the final presentation.  The final presentation included different metering modes and the when and why we use them, as well as playing with the creative side of photography.  The group went outside and practiced creativity using slow shutter speeds including panning and radial blur, which proved a lot of fun and made for some good laughs.  We ended off with a brief introduction to Lightroom, something that has become so vital to wildlife photography.

We prepared to go out for our last afternoon game drive with the intention of still trying to find the Big Cats that proved to be very elusive.  Unfortunately for us it was not meant to be this afternoon, but the fact that we had an incredible encounter with a big Elephant Bull, plus an amazing dinner set up in the middle of the bush, made it all worth it.

Normally during the course of the bush dinner we use this oppotunity (weather dependant) to do some night photography, mostly of the stars.  Unfortunately for us the clouds came over and stars were nowhere to be seen, but we did some long exposures, which gave everyone an idea of how it all works.

Our last morning we decided to leave half an hour earlier and set out at 05:00am.  Our “hard work” paid off and we eventually found a Pride of Lions, consisting of 4 adult Females and 4 tiny little cubs, not more than a few months old.  Although it was brief as they disappeared into the reeds, we all felt it was an incredible way to finish off what was a very successful weekend.

Our next Wildlife Photography course will be from the 14-16 July so make sure you get in touch, and let us help you take your photography to the next level!


About the Author

Johan van Zyl


The opportunity of visiting some of the wildest, undisturbed areas and sharing my passion for wildlife, conservation and photography with like minded people is a privilege that I am forever grateful.

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