Mrs Barwickian being Kenyan, we spend a reasonable amount of time in Mombasa. We rarely do touristy things, preferring to spend time with family and friends, so I was rather unprepared when we spent a day on safari in the Tsavo East reserve - the closest big reserve to our home - back in 2009. Back then I was stubbornly clinging to film cameras, but hadn't taken my SLR on that visit. I was armed instead with a borrowed compact digital camera that didn't allow me to do much more than point and click.
Kenya at that time was suffering from a fairly intense drought. It wasn't so bad along the coast, where we spend most of our time, but inland was pretty brown. Tsavo's renowned for its red soil anyway, so that trip was a blend of earth colours.
The drought had forced a number of the reserve animals into higher pastures, which we avoided on the advice of the friend who took us out, a professional safari guide who happens to be from the Taita tribe, whose lands lie around Tsavo. He was concerned the concentration of animals in the high pastures would attract poachers, and you do not want to run into poachers. Nevertheless, our friend having grown up in the area, he knew where to look, and I was stunned by the number of animals we did see.
I think what amazed me most was the birdlife. Everyone expects to see the big mammals, and hopes to see the big five, but our friend was an avid birdwatcher. Sadly, the point and click I was using wasn't really sufficient to capture the smaller birds in any detail - brilliant starlings, various weaver birds, hornbills, various kinds of guinea fowl, a rare spurfowl and thicknees. Next time...
But there's a tip for photographrs heading out on safari. You can get some fairly decent shots of big mammals with a point and click. If you're packing your SLR rig, you won't need much more than a 300mm lens - the animals are often very close. Your general purpose zoom/telephoto should do the trick nicely. But you should probably also go armed for birds and might want to consider a 500mm lens. A wide aperture is of course very useful, and my lack of aperture control on the point-and-click is my main dissatisfaction with these photos, but we all know what effect combining wide aperture and long focal length has on lens prices...
Photos from this shoot are: Running Impala
, Elephant Herd
, Impala and Elephant
, Helmeted Guinea Fowl
, Grant's Gazelle
and Maasai Giraffe