It’s Monday 19th Mar 2007 and the photos tell it all

It’s Monday 19th Mar 2007 and the photos tell it all

I am back from Europe and delighted to be welcomed by blue blue skies! At last the flood situation is over, the camp is open and all is well. Just a foot note – the last time it flooded was in 1978 and it does not happen every year as I was asked in the UK!

Last week was the Digital Photographic Week with David Rogers. I asked David to write the newsletter for you.  The only complaint of the week was they did not experience a big storm! Well that was fine by us.

Have a great week and over to David.

Giraffe and babyImpala

An egret coming into land with its feathers perfectly sharp against a blue Luangwa sky, a herd of elephants dwarfed by a giant baobab and the delicate eye of a dragonfly capture perfectly with a macro lens. Photographers on the Emerald Season Digital Workshop at Nkwali from 10 to 16 March captured them all.

egret coming into landHammerkops

And just to think that the workshop nearly did not happen.For weeks leading up the trip Paul and Sander Otten from Holland, Andrew Prophet and Debbie Wooff from England, Anna Chakibarzuk from Australia, Maria Jose Carballo from Belgium and myself based in South Africa followed reports of the highest flooding in Luangwa Valley for 30 years. Just days before departure Nkwali was still under threat of more flooding but eventually we got word that the river was subsiding and off we went.

Despite having been flooded entirely Nkwali looked great. The paint was fresh, the floors were immaculate and green grass was just starting to poke through sand deposited by the river. The broad river was still flowing swiftly past the camp just a foot below the veranda, but continued to drop steadily during our stay.

ElephantElephants under baobab

It was also great to catch up again with the RPS team (wow – they are a wonderful group of people!) and meet my group. I had met Paul Otten and his son Sander previously in Tanzania. Husband and wife were previous RPS clients. Anna from Australia was taking a break from her marketing position at Interflora and just learning about how to use her new digital SLR. “Just don’t let me near any flowers,” she joked. It was also great to see Maria Jose Carballo – a friend who has been on two previous trips with me. She had been too late to get onto the workshop but due to a last minute cancellation was also in camp.


The guiding was shared between Kiki and Jacob – and I don’t think that we could have asked for finer people to show us the Valley. Jacob was guide to famous Dutch photographer Frans Lanting in Luangwa and has a great eye. In many ways the workshop panned out like a normal safari, but the emphasis was on getting great imagery and we kept very focused on the task.

On the first night we looked at images taken on previous expeditions and talked about themes, techniques and aspects of photography. We set ourselves the task of compiling portfolios for the final slide show and woke up extra early to get the best light and worked hard during the day shortlisting images. We had great sightings of elephants, lions, birds of prey and many other species from boats and also on foot. We also boated for two hours upriver all the way to Nsefu where we visited a stork colony and a drowned ebony grove. The sight of the Luangwa in the emerald season was remarkable. And, do you know, we saw only two other parties on the whole trip and did not have a drop of rain during the day.

Setting reflectors for lightPerching above the water

On the final evening each of the photographers put forward five images for each of the categories, which were landscapes, animals, birds, macro, night and people. It was a great show right on the edge of the river attended by many of the camp staff. The projected light proved a big hit with the flying insects and we also saw a couple of kills! We invited the guests in camp to help us identify the top five in each category and I am glad to say that despite vastly differing levels of experience and equipment each photographer was shortlisted. The final choice of category winners was left up to Robin and Jo and the results were as follows.

Paul Otten’s image of an egret coming into land was the winning picture – and was according to Jo and Robin the finest that they had seen on the subject. It is incredibly sharp. Next year’s workshop starts on 8 March and we hope to see some old and new faces joining up with us.

David Rogers

InsectDragon fly

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