The Red Bulletin September 2019 (UK)

online.magazines

G U I D E

Do it

Kenya

HAKUNA MATATA

PICTURE

PERFECT

Purdy shares professional tips and

wisdom from his many years of shooting

wild animals in the Maasai Mara

BRING

THREE ESSENTIALS FOR A PHOTO SAFARI

1. “I use a Canon EOS

5DSR with a range of

lenses. My favourite is

a 300mm lens, because

the wide angle suits my

photographic style.”

2. “You can actually do

a pretty good job with

nothing more than an

iPhone camera. I use

Moment clip-on lenses

that transform the view

into wide-angle, telephoto

or anamorphic video.”

3. “Bring twice as many

memory cards as you

think you’ll need. I’ve never

met anyone who has gone

on a first-time safari and

brought too many memory

cards. On my first safari

I took 12,000 photos.

Now I know what to look

for, I take a lot less.”

Purdy says there are no pre-requisites for safari

participants: “Enthusiasm is all you need”

REMEMBER

1. VULTURES EAT QUICKLY

“A flock of 70 vultures can completely strip an animal

carcass in just 90 minutes. If the animal has died of

natural causes, the only way in for a vulture is

through the eye or the bum.”

2. BABY ELEPHANTS ARE CLUMSY

There are more muscles in an elephant’s trunk than

in our entire body. But babies less than a few months

old can’t control their trunk, so it wobbles and shakes

when they run.

3. HIPPOS NEED SPACE

The hippo was once regarded as the most

dangerous animal in Africa, because people used

waterways for transport, but generally one won’t

attack you. Just don’t get in its way.”

Kenya’s glorious sunsets provide ample opportunities for that once-in-a-lifetime shot

it’s a bit cooler. Groups of guests

from all over the world make the

45-minute flight from Wilson

Airport in Nairobi to the Maasai

Mara, and we start shooting as

soon as they land.

Our camp has no fence around

it, so animals are free to come and

go as they please. You’re always

walked to and from the tent by a

guide, and there’s usually someone

lurking with a spear, just in case.

Each morning, we’re out in

the Land Rover 40 minutes before

sunrise. All the vehicles have been

customised for photography and

are completely open with the sides

and roof cut away. There’s nothing

between you and the animals, and

you never know how they’ll react.

Once, a male lion walked straight

up to the car and sprayed pee over

us. He showed us who was boss.

Just 10 minutes before the

sun comes up, a great wall of

20 elephants suddenly appears

through the fine morning mist.

All is completely still as they wade

silently through the grass like

something out of Jurassic Park.

The pre-dawn light makes for

an epic photo, but we have only

seconds to capture it. Things

change fast here, so you need

to react quickly.

About an hour before sunset, when

the light is best, we find a cheetah

hunting Thomson’s gazelles. It

doesn’t matter how many nature

documentaries you see, it’s just

unworldly to see a cheetah run

at full pace in real life. We’re all

rooting for her, right up until she

makes the kill. Everyone in the

car wells up. Nature isn’t Disney;

everyone is just trying to survive.

When we head over the hill,

metres from where the cheetah has

just cut the gazelle population, we

see that a new addition has been

born. The gazelles are grazing

with some impala, and this tiny

baby wobbles over to a huge male

and looks at him as if to say, “Are

you my mummy?” The impala

drops its head and nudges the

young gazelle so that it faces its

mother. It’s just priceless.

Immersing yourself in the

wilderness is almost spiritual. After

36 hours in the Mara, you won’t

know what day it is. I’m always

supercharged with optimism when

I awake, knowing so much will

have happened during the night,

and my eyes will be falling out of

my head with excitement about

what I might find.

To join Purdy on safari, go to purdy.

photography/photographic-safaris

GRAEME PURDY PHOTOGRAPHY RACHAEL SIGEE

88 THE RED BULLETIN

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