Robin visits South Africa, part II

Continued from Part 1

It was hard to believe how close we were able to get to the wild animals in Madikwe Game Reserve. Our park ranger drove us as close as 5 meters from the animals! The feeling of potentially fatal danger was persistent even while we busied ourselves composing images. The animals kept turning toward us and glancing at us from time to time, but they never showed any sign of aggression or agitation. I guess they’re so used to human presence with the never-ending stream of tourists that pass through the reserve. I was thrilled to be able to continue shooting my portraits of strangers, only this time my subjects were wild animals instead of humans.

Truth be told, my expectations going into the safari were unreasonably high. I was expecting a lion chasing a deer or a cheetah sprinting, all while I executed a panning shot. The kind of images that I imagined shooting were almost non-existent throughout the trip. The game drive is designed for visitors to be able to see as many animals as possible, not necessarily the most dramatic scenes. To witness and document a dramatic event in such a drive required being at the right place at the right time. Part of me was a little disappointed I did not get such exciting shots, but I also reminded myself that I was not on a National Geographic assignment. If I was, I wouldn’t be on touristy drive and it would be a lot longer than a few days. I have newfound respect for wildlife photographers, who must have the patience of Buddha to wait for their money shots. Maybe we should all learn to be more diligent in our own photography as well. Nevertheless, this realisation did not deter my spirit and I kept an open mind, focusing on what I enjoy most – getting close up portraits.

I switched between the two tele-lenses in my arsenal, the Olympus M.Zuiko 300mm F4 IS Pro and the 40-150mm F2.8 PRO. Obviously I used the 300mm for subjects that were further away and for framing extremely tight headshots. The 40-150mm lens allowed for more environmental shots. When required, I also used the teleconverter MC-14 (compatible with both lenses). I used it mostly on the 300mm to gain even more reach and didn’t have to worry about stability thanks to the reliable 5-Axis image stabilization.

I hope you enjoy these images from my South Africa trip! It’s evident that I am no wildlife photographer, but it was good fun and educational to dip my feet into new waters and shoot something different. If I get another chance to return to Africa, I will definitely say yes!

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Comments

  1. Another beautiful set. I’m liking where Olympus is going, and how it is using its Visionary programme to support this.

  2. Great photos! There is no place like Africa. Next,the Migration. Did you bring a second body? Neal

    • Thanks! I brought only one camera, because it was an Olympus trip, and if anything happens, there are spares provided for us.

  3. Arefuddin Ahmed says:

    Hi Robin thank you very much for sharing the fantastic photographs with us. Some of the images were simply mesmerizing. You are very right; with EM-1 II and MFT Pro lenses you can really travel light that you cannot think with other systems having larger sensors.

    • Robin Wong says:

      Thanks Arefuddin! Indeed, for travel, having small and light system can open up more opportunities!

      • 😉 and not only the EM-1 II. Nice to be an Olympus Ambassador. Curious about any Camera review that may follow soon.
        I love the Picture of the Zebra. It looks so kind and open, as if there are no dangers out there for it. Nice.

        • Robin Wong says:

          I am sure somewhere at the hidden corner a lion was waiting to pounce. Maybe.
          Surely if there are new products coming I will be doing articles about them, and will do my best to share my experience using them. Stay tuned!

  4. Kitty Murray says:

    Thank you for taking the time to share these photos. The bird in the tree against that super blue sky is quite striking. I enjoyed the set very much.

    Kitty
    Austin, TX

    • Robin Wong says:

      Thanks Kitty! It is also interesting to see people respond to different photographs! I like those birds on the tree too. We suspected they were hiding from some predators (cheetah, leopard, etc) but we could not spot any nearby.

  5. It’s the “Hey! You lookin’ at me?” expression on the first big cat that sells it. Actually they’re all very nice, and a good first outing in this new role.

    • Robin Wong says:

      Thanks Michael, I have a feeling these cats are so used to human presence that they simply do not care about us being so near. In fact they went on walking along without looking at us much. It was not easy getting direct eye contact shots.

  6. Paul Tirajoh says:

    Very excellent pictures Robin.
    I have been in Amakhala Game Drive, 60 km south of Port Elisabeth in Oct. 2017, but my longest lens was the 75mm, no close up.

    • Robin Wong says:

      Hey Paul!
      Oh no, 75mm is not sufficient for most of the animals that are far away! Did you not even have the cheap 40-150mm F4-5.6 lens? That could get you some good keepers!

  7. Thanks for sharing your trip. Part 1 and Part 2 are very well done. Your wildlife images will give the wildlife photographers some great competition.

    • Robin Wong says:

      Hey Bill, thanks for the kind words. No competition at all, I am new to this game and was happy I can try out the game. Nonetheless, there will be more photos coming on my own blog soon. Sharing my B-roll images (the pile that did not make it here).

  8.  To, Mr. Ming The

  9. jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    I think I’ve always loved animals first, humans second!
    Did you notice, Robin, that the pair of zebras has an “extra” on the set? – the one on the left has one of those birds-whose-name-I’ve-quite-forgotten, that helps the zebras by picking insects off their back?
    And speaking of zebras, I love the backlit shot nearly at the end of this article – great photograph!

    • Robin Wong says:

      Thanks Jean for the kind words. I do have a few shots of zoomed in images showing those birds on the zebras, and I shall have these images shown in my B-Roll set in my own blog soon. The light was incredible in South Africa, I wish we have the same in Malaysia, but I guess that will never happen.

  10. Lovely photos! From Pudu Wet Market kitties to Madikwe Game Reserve lions; it’s the same gaze only with bigger felines! That 300mm Pro Lens really pulls in tack-sharp images.

    • Thanks Reverend, that was my thought too, the cats gave me that one look! Though this cat may be saying “you look delicious” with his eyes.

      • Or, he recognises an Olympus Visionary using a great lens and gives you his best “bad boy” look. :😁 Seriously, a nice set of images. We are so used to seeing the work of the true wildlife professionals that it’s all too easy to overlook just how long it may have taken them. With some of the excellent David Attenborough films it was as much as two years. Just think how much was left on the cutting room floor editing down to a one hour programme. Looking forward to more of your work with the latest Oly gear.

        • Thanks Terry, appreciate the kind words! Yeah, after seeing so many wildlife shots, we automatically set certain standard and expectations on what kind of images we want to take. Most of the time, what we want may not be what we get in reality!

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