Moose Peterson's Website Where the world of photography is explored and shared! Sat, 25 Oct 2014 16:02:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Which Is The Subject? Sat, 25 Oct 2014 16:02:47 +0000 DAMLGAAB0146

I don’t know! I’m still very fascinated by both.
African Buffalo and Red-billed Oxpecker. Africa cool!

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The Boys of the Bush! Fri, 24 Oct 2014 15:10:44 +0000 _BMP2815

The key to success for the majority of photography is knowing your subject. Something taught to us when we’re real young when it comes to writing, it totally applies to photography, especially wildlife photography. The open African woodland habitat that is Mala Mala is not your stereotypical African savannah you conjure up in your mind when picturing the bush. While I had been studying my mammal and bird ID books prior to going over, I was ill prepared for what we encountered. Besides the overwhelming sensory overload of critters ~everywhere~ you look, there is the challenge of making the photo that is more than a memory of that amazing moment. Step in the Rangers, the Boys of the Bush.


Roan, 27 and Greg, 24, grew up in this African environment of the “bush” and it shows. On top of this, they have spent their time in school, Greg with his degree in Zoology and Masters in Wildlife Mngmt. But what really makes these two rangers unique, at least to me, is their love and total dedication to the bush. There wasn’t ONE critter they couldn’t ID, there wasn’t one piece of biology I asked about they couldn’t speak about in great length. And there wasn’t ONE critter that we wanted to photograph they did’t have us on top of with the great angle. They are Rangers, they are not guides and within minutes of working with both of them they had my complete respect and admiration! If I were working a project back here in the states, they would be just like a biologist with all the knowledge and ability to get me intimate with a subject. And they are the reason the entire group on safari with Images in Africa Safari came back with the amazing images we so cherish!

When we were on the stalk for critters which you’ll see in the KelbyOne Class we shot, we were all business. But when not, well, boys will be boys! That’s probably what made the safari so memorable for me, the friendships that were made. Well, I wanted to have more than your casual clicks to remember these two by. So one chapter in the KelbyOne class is about bush portraits. Now what makes bush portraits different from normal portraits? Well, let’s just say you normally don’t get chased off your video set while shooting a class by a GIANT freakin Rhino that is charging two younger Rhinos out of his territory! You should have seen Adam’s face when he was told to jump, fast, into the Landi! You could sum up bush portraits in one word, fast! Shooting with the Df, 18-35AFS and SB-910 on a SC-28, the portrait session went like this: stop vehicle, look for critters, click to see base exposure for portrait, tell subject to look in this direction, put flash in place, click photo, drive in direction of critter. These Rangers, Roan and Greg and Brandon (not pictured here) worked wonders for us. We are so indebted to them. They made the safari so special and I will always smile when I look at these portraits because I know the story behind their making. And that’s what photography is all about!

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The Dark Cloud on the Safari Thu, 23 Oct 2014 13:30:21 +0000 DAMLOUWR0459

It’s not until you see the sun bleached bones on a grassland plains just outside an airport does the reality really hit home. Shot for just their horn, the Rhino has been and is being shot to extinction with some species already gone and others damn close to it. Ya, we’ve all heard of this but it’s not until you are on the ground in Africa and you see the extent of the slaughter does it really sadden the heart. It was the topic of many a discussion while we were there as we tried to understand just to what end poachers go to get that horn so someone in the East can convince themselves they feel better. This is a post that, truly, I’ve wrestled with for a week, how I was going to approach the subject? It is very complex, from the problem to the solution and after being immersed in it for a week, I truly understand the gravity of the problem but have no grasp of a solution. Education seems to be the one clear avenue of hope. With this simple message, I hope you will take the time to learn about their plight and in that learning, find a way you can make a difference. I might be home writing this right now, but I find comfort that even if I were to never get back to Africa, to know critters like the Rhino roam free in their world as they always have. A wild heritage that must be preserved for future generations.

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And Then There Was Adam Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:30:02 +0000 _DSC1367

If you would have told me up to a week ago, that I would ever travel, anywhere, anytime, in my lifetime with my own videographer, I would have told you, you were nuts! I mean, that stuff just doesn’t happen in the real world. There isn’t just someone with immense talent, enormous passion and plane old fun who follows one around with a video camera aiding in recording and telling the story. Well this past week in Africa I had just that and I am forever grateful that my long time friend and producer, Adam was long to tell the story of our safari and the African wild heritage!


A scheme hatched eight months ago, Adam was able to come because of the generosity of Images in Africa Safaris and the creative genius, Perry at KelbyOne (the producer of our Warbirds Film). Of course, the original concept for Adam going was to create a new class for KelbyOne. But Adam and & I knew before going it would be much more than a class (and as it turned out, an epic journey). While we were incredibly fortunate to make the journey and see Africa in a spectacular way, a class on just wildlife photography or travel photography was never Adam’s or my goal. You see, even Africa and its rich wildlife diversity is in grave danger. For example, all EXIF data is scrubbed from any photo taken of a Rhino as you see below. The explosion of life, the spectacle of species and the scale of life is bigger than a single click. Adam and I wanted to tell that story more than anything else. We realize many will never have the opportunity to go on safari, it was for those that we put in the 21hrs days, six days in a row to bring back footage and the story we know you’ve never seen before! Adam is a dear friend with great passion and we’ve done many great things together. This is our best so far!


But as you might imagine, screwin around is a HUGE part of our production process. When the camera is on and we need to get the work done, we do just that. But when the camera goes off, and I think it’s part of our team’s creative process, we goof off. So Adam gave himself the self assignment of doing selfies with all the critters. The one he hadn’t gotten all week were with Rhinos. So, literally, the last day, the last drive, the last hour, he got his selfie and his self assignment was complete. While we were on a serious mission with a serious task at hand, fun is still the corner stone we use to create each project. While I’ve told Adam thank you many times in many ways over the years for all he has done to aid me in telling our stories, I wanted to, once again, tell him publicly thanks. What we do is important, it does make a difference. Thank you my friend!

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Africa and The Longest Lens Wed, 22 Oct 2014 15:55:36 +0000 _BMP2181

One of the BIG questions going to Africa is, “What’s the longest Lens to Take?” Going there for the first time, I read all folks who had been there had to say on this topic. When I posted what gear I was taking to Africa, many shooters who have been there were telling me the 800mm was too much lens. Their logic was sound, at Mala Mala you are so close to the critters, you don’t need a long lens. Also, always shooting from a vehicle where the other folks are moving, shooting with a long lens is down right a pain in the ass. There is a saying I always embrace when it comes to wildlife photography. Take your biggest lens or you’ll come back short. And my first drive, I didn’t take the 800mm but soon discovered that was a huge mistake for me. I think the biggest factor though when it comes to the longest lens you should take is YOU!


This is a Pied Kingfisher that the majority of the time was on the same reeds right next to the Landie most of the week. A smallish bird, sparrow size, it’s a great kingfisher so I had to get the shot. It was physically close, the bottom shot is what you could get with a 200mm. That’s an impressive subject image size for a small bird with 200mm. The top image was taken with the 800mm with 1.25x attached. Yes, there is an image difference but more importantly, there is a “Moose” difference and that’s really the point. The “Moose” difference being the intimacy with the subject, the control of the background and of course, the story. I think that’s the biggest factor in the longest lens you take. Ya, you can go with just the 80-400VR3 and be PERFECTLY fine on safari. Especially if you take advantage of HSC which gives you 600mm with that lens. But your photographic comfort level is a huge factor in this decision as well. Traveling about, working with and shooting with a big lens on a tripod (being used as a monopod) in a bouncing vehicle, I saw is simply not what many photographers are use to. You’ve gotta keep it fun while you’re on safari and working a big lens for many, isn’t fun. But for me, if I hadn’t taken my 800mm, I would have come home short. I shot with the 800mm the majority of the time. So I think the moral of the story is, the length of lens you take is not dependent on the location but on you! The decision has to be based you, your abilities and the memories you want to bring back. While I missed some shots, I brought back more than I missed shooting with the 800mm.

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I Couldn’t Find it in Africa Tue, 21 Oct 2014 12:42:54 +0000 _BMP3027

Starting from the first drive, my mind was searching for the word to describe the experience I was having in So Africa. It’s only human nature, right, to try to find a word that summarizes an experience in an attempt to relate the experience to others. And as the days went on and the amazing spectacle of critters continued to appear in front of us, the experiences that unfolded and the wonders still left to the imagination came to life, I was still searching for the word as I said goodbye to my hosts for the week. And that’s something else I didn’t expect, to make such amazing friendships with the Rangers at Mala Mala! I’m sitting here on the floor at JFK waiting to be able to check in so I can get home, after 18hrs of travel to get this far, I still don’t have that word. It’s the one thing I couldn’t find in Africa. I guess then it’s a darn good thing I’m a photographer because my photos are going to have to express what I have no words for. Is Africa all I thought it would be? Hell no! I’ve been hearing for over thirty years from folks who travel there why I should go and how I’d love it. Their descriptions were nowhere close to accurate and that’s probably they too never could find that word.

This Wild Dog, one of just 450 left in So Africa (such a tragic story) is one of a pack of 12 we photographed earlier in the week. They are a fascinating critter with an even more fascinating nitch in the web of life. I can so see why Gene, one of the shooters with us this past week is so into these amazing animals. The pack yesterday (hard for me to grasp this experience was already, yesterday) was bedded down in a sandy wash in the shade after a morning of being on the move. The cameras from our KelbyOne class were all packed, it was our last morning drive so I was doing what I love to do most, just smell the roses. So I sat there with 800mm pointed at the pups, not shooting when all of a sudden, the whole pack jumped to their feet. And as you can see, this adult walked right down the lens barrel looking at me the whole time. And other than this photo to offer you, I have no words for the experience. I owe a big thank you and gratitude to Images in Africa Safaris for taking me to Africa for my first time and the amazing experience. I need to thank KelbyOne for sending Adam who captured it all so we can share it with you all next year. Yes, I will be going back to Africa in 2015. I’ll be not only looking for more critters and more stories, but probably still searching for that word I couldn’t find this time.

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Are There Birds on Safari? Fri, 17 Oct 2014 12:30:59 +0000 _BMP2373

“Are there birds on safari” the email read. Oh Hell YA!!! Birds are here in every size, color and manor and most, blow your mind! Now if that’s the case, why am I posting a photo of the White-backed Vulture? Well, I can’t think of a better bird to represent Africa. It’s the clean up crew for nearly every party there is here, party thrown by lions, Leopards and Wild Dogs that is. This shot from this mornings drive though I think paints them in a better light. Shot from inside the Landi, the D4s / 800f5.6 AFS with TC attached is perched on the Gitzo 5561SGT which is acting as a monopod. I have my Arca Swiss B2 and with that combo, I’m able to work the big glass from the Landi and get the shot. The tripod for the most part leans against my leg as I stablize the whole rig from movement inside the vehicle. Our amazing ranger Roan then drives forward or back, left or right small inches to help fine tune the shot. There are lots of birds in Africa, photographed about 30 species so far but this iconic one was on my list to get!

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No Laughing Matter?! Thu, 16 Oct 2014 12:30:12 +0000 _BMP9667

If there was one species of critter I wanted to photograph here in Africa it was the Hyaena. This morning we had a little time right after the rain with two female Spotted Hyaena just lying beside the road. The Hyaena is a very misaligned critter as most think of them as vicious, smellie, opportunist. They are essential to the ecosystem and do more than just eat dead stuff. Now watching this sleeping female through the 800mm, I couldn’t help notice its smile and I wondered if they have “doggie” dreams. I’m looking forward to hopefully spending more time with them and time with them at a kill. That’s true Africa!

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Just Hanging Around in Africa! Wed, 15 Oct 2014 12:30:30 +0000 _BMP5022

Yep, that’s basically all we did last night. Not having been to Africa before, I thought Leopards are kinda rare to see. But we’ve already spent a lot of time photographing SIX different individuals in just 36hrs! Seriously, Images in Africa and the folks here at Mala Mala really know their stuff and our opportunities prove it. This mom had just killed a Impala and when arrived, her two, ten month old daughters had just cleaned out the stomach to lighten it. We were just in time to watch mom carry up into the tree and hang it for the kids to feast on. Afterwards, well you can see what mom did. Shot handheld with the D4s / 80-400VR3 it’s a simple click as we literally for two hours hung around with them. Just bloody too cool!

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Elephants, Leopards & Buffalo – Oh My! Tue, 14 Oct 2014 12:43:14 +0000 _BMP8199

Yep, Africa is magical! I’ve been on two drives so far and seen elephants, leopard, buffalo, even a pack of Wild Dogs taking down TWO antelope! Gavin at Images in Africa and the folks here at Mala Mala have brought us to an amazing slice of our wild heritage. While I planned on lots of blogging live from Africa this week, just dealing with the 8k images so far has got me jumpin. So, just wanted to let you all know I’m here, it’s great and have tons of stories to share, when I can. This is a two year old female Leopard who we were able to spend a hour with last evening. Shot with D4s / 80-400VR3 handheld from the back of the amazing Land Rover.

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