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Antelope Archives

Klipspringer on Rocky Outcrop

Male Klipspringer standing on rocky outcrop in early morningCaption: Male Klipspringer standing on rocky outcrop early in the morning, Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana.

Camera: Canon EOS 50D; Lens Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM; Shutter speed: 1/640; Aperture: f/5.6; ISO: 800; Exposure compensation: +1.7 EV

The above photo is a classic example of the camera’s light meter being fooled by background light. When I exposed normally, the klipspringer became a silhouette. I tried a number of exposures, using the camera’s exposure compensation dial. In this case, I over-exposed (according to the meter) by 1.7 stops in order to show detail in the main subject and the rocks.

This meant the sky was over-exposed, but that’s fine. Even though I was using a 400mm lens, the klipspringer only filled part of the frame, so the picture has been cropped. This means there was more sky in the background, which no doubt influenced the extent by which the meter originally under-exposed the subject.

See this post about Klipspringers in our previous blog to find out more about these small, amazingly agile antelope.

Eland Stirring Up Dust

Eland stirring up dust in early morning light Caption: Eland (Tragelaphus oryx)) stirs up dust as it walks across the parched earth in early morning light, Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana.

Camera: Canon EOS 50D; Lens: Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM; Focal length: 400mm; Shutter speed: 1/1600; Aperture: f/5.6; ISO: 400

We visited Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana’s Northern Tuli Game Reserve earlier this month. I was shocked that it was already so dry and denuded of grass.

End of May/June is early winter in Southern Africa. It usually only rains again around October or November in Tuli, meaning a long, hard winter ahead for the animals.

The bulk grazers like wildebeest and zebra have already moved elsewhere in search of grass, as have the large herds of eland. Although we still saw plenty of impala, giraffe, and elephant herds, plus predators like lion, leopard and cheetah, one has to wonder how they’ll survive the next five to six months.

See our previous post, Eland Bull, for more about this antelope, the largest in Africa.

Wildebeest, Motion Blur

Wildebeest Running, motion blurCaption: Blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) on the run, panned for motion blur effect, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.

Camera: Canon EOS 450D (Canon Rebel XSi 12.2MP); Lens: Canon EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM; Focal Length: 300mm; Aperture: f/45; Shutter Speed: 1/20; ISO: 200

For more images and info about photographing wildlife using the motion blur technique, see Wildlife Photos, Motion Blur Effect.

Wildebeest Herd on the Run

Wildebeest herd on the run, motion blur effect
Caption: Wildebeest herd, sensing danger, dashes off in panic, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.

Camera: Canon EOS 450D (Rebel XSi); Lens: Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 IS USM Telephoto Zoom; Focal Length: 140mm; Aperture: F/40; Shutter Speed: 1/30; ISO: 200

The wildebeest migration in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park is one of the planet’s great natural spectacles and as such has been well documented in stills and movies. However, the sheer scale of the migration, with thousands of wildebeest scattered over large areas of the plains, makes it difficult to capture via still photography, particularly if you’re only there for a couple of days.

Those fortunate enough to view the herds crossing the Grumeti and Mara Rivers as the animals trek towards the Masai Mara in Kenya have additional photo opportunities, not only because of the drama of the river crossing, but also because the animals are bunched close together.

But the randomness of the animals’ movements does mean it’s very much a question of luck to be in the right place at the right time — it’s simply not possible to predict where and when the herds will make their crossings.

During our all-too-brief stay in Serengeti and the adjoining Grumeti Reserve, we saw thousands upon thousands of blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) massing on the plains, grazing and moving slowly northwards, but they were spread across vast areas, seldom bunched together.

On one occasion a herd we were watching suddenly took fright and sped off together. In the picture above, I opted for a slow shutter speed while panning the camera in an effort to show the panic and frenetic herd behavior. Most my other pictures of the wildebeest migration are more static – see Serengeti Safari Pictures for more shots of the migration, plus photos of other Serengeti wildlife.

Wildebeest Migration

Lioness and cub on tree stump, Serengeti National Park

Caption: Lioness, using an old tree stump as a vantage points, stares across the Serengeti plains in anticipation of her next meal while a cub dozes next to her, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.

When we visited Serengeti in July this year, the only lions we saw were those in the picture above, together with some other members of the pride lying in the grass under the tree stump.

Although Serengeti is world-renowned for its big cat population, during the annual wildebeest migration there is so much prey for the lions that they can afford to spend most the time lying in shady spots digesting their last meal.

In fact, when you’re in the midst of the migration, you don’t see much wildlife other than wildebeest and zebras — there’s simply not enough room for anything else.

We drove to Serengeti from South Africa specifically to see this yearly wildlife trek, so weren’t disappointed at not seeing more lions, or the obligatory cheetah on a termite mound, or other large mammals.

Did the migration live up to our expectations? Absolutely! For three days we were ever-conscious of the slowly moving tide of animals, hearing them at night like frogs in the distance, and seeing them in their thousands by day.

Only One Wildebeest Migration

For many this is a once-in-a-lifetime exerience and probably will be for me. I see lions most times I visit the Kruger National Park or Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana. But there’s only one wildebeest migration and you have to get to East Africa to experience it, which is a long way from South Africa and expensive to visit.

We went to Serengeti to experience the migration, not necessarily to photograph it, as it’s almost impossible to convey such magnitude in pictures, unless one is lucky enough to get good shots from the air.

The plains of Serengeti extend forever, so there’s space aplenty for the wildebeest herds on their journey towards the Mara. It’s only when they congregate to cross the Grumeti and Mara Rivers or pass through other bottlenecks that they form tight masses. The rest of the time they’re walking single file, or spread out over huge areas, oblivious of the tourists trying to capture this phenomenon with their cameras.

Below are some wildebeest migraton pictures taken in Serengeti and neighbouring Grumeti Game Reserve during our unforgettable few days there.

Wildebeest massing near forest during migration

Migrating wildebeest under stormy sky, Serengeti

Migrating wildebeest, Serengeti National Park

Migrating wildebeest on Serengeti plains

(Please Note: If you’re not reading this post on Wildlife Photography Blog from Wildlife Pictures Online, then you’re not seeing the original version. Please go to Wildebeest Migration to read the original.)

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