McKay Photography Academy’s journey to Tanzania continued!
Serengeti to Ndutu
After two very full days of photographing in the Central Serengeti, the plan was set to move to the vast Ndutu plains and forest area. Well known for the Cheetah as well as the herds of Great Migration during early March just after their babies have dropped, we were hoping for an exceptional experience. 

This is the first time I have been able to visit this part of the area and my hope was based on timing, we would hit it just right. AND WE SURE DID! 


Photo Tip 

There is nothing else quite like an African Sunrise and Sunset. Being so close to the equator results in stunning displays of a huge sun ball in the sky!

It is important to understand that you have to be up and going BEFORE sunrise. Here, the sun hits the horizon, and from that point to this image is literally about 2 minutes max. 

When shooting an image like this, the idea is to silhouette the foreground. It is not so much about the detail in the foreground but rather the impact and mood of the image. 

The mistake people make with an image like this, is that they try to get the proper exposure lined up. However, what you need to do is actually UNDEREXPOSE what the meter tells you quite a bit. In this image, I am shooting at 100 ISO, f8, and a fast shutter speed of 1/ 4000 of a second. I am on FULL MANUAL as I do not want the AUTO ISO to keep lining up the meter for what it thinks is correct. 

My light meter showed as EXTREMELY underexposed. But this is because the meter is taking into account this huge bright sun in the sky and if I exposed the shadows of the trees as an example, the sky would be completely blown out. 

The fast shutter speed was my way of reducing light. It had nothing to do with action. I could have also reduced light with the f-stop but f8 is a nice sweet-sharp spot on my lens.


Photo Tip 

No matter how steady you think your hands are, how good your lens or camera stabilization is, and how fast your shutter is, the reality is, that in a moving vehicle in an unstable environment, it can affect whether your images are tack sharp or not. 

On safari, we always use specially designed vehicles with a maximum of 4 photographers in them for elbow room and to allow “bean bags’ to be placed on the roof rack to help you stabilize the camera. This is a trick that works in other situations as well. 

We stayed at Ndutu Safari lodge. What a beautiful place and location. Literally looking out as Zebras and other wildlife can pass close by.

Within minutes of leaving the lodge, you are right in the middle of some of the most incredible wildlife viewing at this time of year. 

As an added bonus, not many people come to this area as it can be difficult if it rains as the mud makes areas impassable. But no guts no glory! SO we went for it and as I said, it did NOT disappoint. 

Our first morning, Chuck and Maria went on a Hot Air Balloon ride which is ALWAYS fabulous especially if you have never done it before. The rest of us went out and came across a large pride of lions. 
They had just taken a wildebeest for breakfast. The mother had a slight injury and so she was left to eat in peace, while her two daughters watched and guarded her. Animal behavior is TRULY AMAZING to watch in the wild. 

During this time, the two now young adult male lions were also close by, but the sisters would have nothing of it and would not allow them near the kill. It is time for them to leave and go on their own. No more meals from Mom and sisters! Go find your own way boys! 

Photo Tip 

In the wild, a “kill” is a very necessary part of the entire ecosystem and it must happen in order for everything to work. Everything from plant life, herd numbers, food portions, and sustainability are all based on an ever-revolving circle of life. 

That doesn’t make it easy for some to watch. Although it can be tough, try to take it in and understand the process and shoot the scene. 

This mother lion has the fresh remains of a wildebeest AND baby. The lioness had a wound around her neck. Our guides believe the two sisters(her daughters) probably did the hunt, brought to mom, and why she is healing up, they will fiercely protect her. That includes the two young teenage brothers that may try to take the meat. 

Photo Tip 

Here one of the young males makes his move towards the kill. Notice the beautiful golden warm light. This is such a difference having this in the early morning or late hour evening times and produces a quality of light that makes a huge difference in your images. 

With wildlife photography, it is also imperative to get up and out before sunrise so that you can be ready for the morning action as animals are awake and ready to go. 

Please also note the use of the Rule of Thirds in this image! Rathe than the lion being placed directly center by placing him on the left third with his body leaning to the right, it creates a stronger balance and “movement” to the image. 

!/3200th of second – f71 ISO 1000