Photographing Rhinos in South Africa

Three White Rhinos by Mike O Leary - Greengraf Photography.jpg

I was lucky enough to get out to South Africa for my first real attempt at photographing wildlife. While I have had a few serendipitous encounters with red deer in Killarney National Park, I hand't gone out to specifically photograph animals, and that's just one of the reasons why I jumped at the chance to go to a private game reserve in Africa. The most convenient aspect of photographing wildlife in SA is the size of the animals. I was limited with what I could shoot in Ireland because my lens just didn't have the reach. My longest lens is Canon's 70-200mm f/2.8. And, while this is an amazing piece of kit — it's sharp as a tack — it still isn't long enough to fill the frame with most subjects, e.g. a bird, unless, of course, you were right beside it. While, in Africa, — bear with me, now — the animals are big....like, really big. So, they easily fill the frame, even with my measly 200mm, without me having to get too close, 

The lead image of the three rhinos was taken from the safety of a vehicle. I just reached out of the window with my camera to get a lower perspective. Below are a couple of images I took while a small herd of rhinos were coming out of the bush with some glorious back-lighting. Here, I was outside of the vehicle, on one knee, firing off a few shots when this one just started walking towards us. Now, despite my longish lens, this animal was still just about 15 meters away....walking straight at me. I quickly fired off a couple of shots, and then, in a series several ungraceful movements, I got myself inside the vehicle again. 

 Easy, now

Easy, now

 It's about here that I almost completely evacuated my bowels 

It's about here that I almost completely evacuated my bowels 

Thankfully, in SA I had an excellent guide in the form of another sarcastic Irishman; Níall. As well as being an expert in animal behavior and delicious irony, he's also a really talented photographer in his own right — check out his Instagram feed here. I have to say, having a guide in these situations is invaluable. For a start, they know where the animals are, but they can also predict what the animal will do before even the animal knows (it seems, anyway), thus, enabling the photographer to be ready for the moment. The moment to run.

 My guide, Níall. Not pictured: me, crying in the back of the car.

My guide, Níall. Not pictured: me, crying in the back of the car.

Having an experienced guide is the only way that I was able to get these shots of White Rhinos. If I had been on my own or without Níall's experience, I either would have missed the shot or I wouldn't have made it back to Ireland in one piece.  

BYE

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