12 to 12 for 12
Twelve hours for twelve images at the Okaukuejo Water Hole.
Each year I lead a Photographic Tour through Namibia and one of the highlights is my time at Okaukuejo. The waterhole there is in my opinion one of the best in Southern Africa. The variety of wildlife is astounding. At least one day on these trips I spend 12 hours by the waterholes side. From 12pm to 12 am I will be there hoping to get 12 images. These are the images from August 2015.
12:35 pm. EF Canon 300mm f/2.8 @ f/4 1 / 4000 ISO 200 I have just started the day as four bull elephants wander in. Springbok, Orxy, Impala and Zebra stand around but it is a bathing bull elephant that gets my attention. Quick fire bursts rattle from my camera as I try to freeze the mud that is being thrown into his back.
1:47 pm. EF Canon 100-400mm @ f/8 1 / 2400 ISO 400 A herd of elephants appear on the horizon. I watch their progress along well worn game paths. The paths lead through the field of boulders straight to the waterhole. The matriarch leads as others follow. Young calfs hold their mothers tails while boisterous boys march on.
2:16 pm. EF Canon 300mm f/2.8 @ f/3.2 1 / 8000 ISO 100 A young elephant breaks away from the family. He looks like a naughty child who has escaped to a playground. The small elephant wallows in the mud, throws water in every direction and enjoys the space his mother has allowed him. He is in heaven and he plays for an hour.
3:23 pm. EF Canon 300mm f/2.8 @ f/2.8 1 / 8000 ISO 50 A second herd approaches. The others are still milling around & picking at what grass is around the waterhole. The new herd are anxious as they have a number of young with them. With all the care in the world the larger females shepard the calfs to a safe area to drink.
4:55 pm. EF Canon 300mm f/2.8 @ f/2.8 1 / 3200 ISO 200 The day is cooling and the light is dropping. Giraffe, Oryx and Jackals come in for a drink. The giraffes take an eternity to get down to water level as they are keeping an eye on the jackals. The Oryx decides to wade right in. The water cools whilst giving him a barrier of security.
5:03 pm. EF Canon 300mm f/2.8 @ f/2.8 1 / 2000 ISO 320 A number of bull elephants March in under the last bright rays of day. Their approach is measured and their arrival is calculated. They respect each other and allow each other to drink from the freshest water available. Their eyes sparkle in the light. This is my focus.
5:11 pm. EF Canon 300mm f/2.8 @ f/2.8 1 / 3200 ISO 500 Doves flutter on to the waterholes edge. It has been their arrival that the Jackals have waited for. The Jackals take sniping shots at the birds. Suddenly one is caught and the Jackals chase the successful hunter hoping to steal his catch.
5:36 pm. EF Canon 300mm f/2.8 @ f/2.8 1 / 8000 ISO 800 The Giraffes relax. The Jackals are gone as the sun begins to dip. Relaxed & comfortable the giraffes begin their ballet. Slowly they lower themselves one leg at a time. They gulp at the water before heading back to their lofty heights with a swift flick of their necks
5:56 pm. EF Canon 300mm f/2.8 @ f/5.6 1 / 800 ISO 6400 Day is now dusk and dusk is soon night. The Giraffes finish their final drinks and begin to look cautiously to their right. The evening is still, colour still reflects off the waterhole but it seems the Giraffes know it is now time to go.
6:41 pm. EF Canon 300mm f/2.8 @ f/2.8 2 sec on tripod ISO 3200 The Giraffes retreated quickly as the ink of night set in. There was no ceremony in their departure & soon the reason is obvious. Silent as the night two lions slink from the darkness. The flood lights eerie glow gives away their presence as they settle for a long drink.
8:22 pm EF Canon 300mm f/2.8 @ f/2.8 1 sec on tripod ISO 6400 There has been many Rhinos. Okaukuejo is famous for these beautiful creatures and no where else are you all but guaranteed to see both black & white Rhino interacting so peacefully. This is their time to socialise & drink, the only sound is a scuttling rock or two.
11:39 pm. EF Canon 16-35 f/2.8 @ f/2.8 25 sec on tripod with Lee filters ISO 6400 The Rhino's have stayed and a lone black Rhino drinks as midnight approaches. I'm worried I don't have 12 shots so I look at the skies. The Milky Way shines through the floodlights as I add a filter to get one last shot. It's been a long day.
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