It’s Monday 29th March 2010 and David Rogers’ Photographic Workshop

This week we hear from Tim, a journalist from South Africa who joined David Rogers’ photographic expedition a few days ago …..

Tim ….

A couple of weeks ago I’m sitting in the office, Friday afternoon, busy trying to wrap up for the week. I work as a scientific editor for Africa Geographic magazine, who cover a multitude of stories through Africa – conservation, natural history, travel mainly – with an emphasis on great pictures and storylines. In any case the call comes through ‘Would you like to join me on one of my photographic workshops with Robin Pope Safaris.’ It’s well-known photographer David Rogers who leads the workshops. Leaving Wednesday. After establishing that it’s not a Fools Day prank I’m left with little option but to say yes! After all South Luangwa is one of THE top photographic destinations in Africa. Trouble is that I’m booked down to Cape Town on company business that week. So after some quick back-tracking, please-explaining and sheepishly avoiding the deadlines I was meant to hit (sorry guys if you’re reading this!), a rather garbled explanation to Rita of RPS about who I am, and things start to fall in place.

Puku, South Luangwa, Zambia

The night before I leave I’m still busy packing and midnight is fast approaching. The thought that I should be standing on the banks of the Luangwa River at RPS’ Nkwali Camp the next evening seems a far stretch of the imagination. But the next day all falls smoothly into place. The flight to Zambia, being met at the airport and guided through customs and immigration by RPS representatives (a first for me!) and the quick hop by Proflight to the Valley, and there I am! Not wasting any time we’re bundled into an RPS vehicle and head for Nkwali… via the park! With my photo gear stashed everywhere amongst my baggage it’s all just too much. So I sit there surreally as we wander through the park, passing a wallowing buffalo and pride of lions disappearing into the darkness to hunt.

Lion, South Luangwa, Zambia

Next morning it’s an early start. With David Rogers leading the way we’re off into the park. We’ve got driver/guide Braston doing a great job and soon we see a pride of lions from the Kathede Bridge. They’re a long way off and nice to see – but not to photograph. Using his sixth sense Braston leads us down the river and only minutes later we’re busy photographing the pride as they hunt a puku through the riverbed. What a start!

Lion, South Luangwa, Zambia

For photo aficionados a tailor made workshop like this one from RPS is definitely the way to go. You stop when there are good pictures to be had, keep going when there aren’t and the nice thing at the Valley is you have the chance to get out of the vehicle and explore the smaller things of life and landscape opportunities at will. Add to this the people you’re involved with and no matter what your level of experience there is always something to learn from the workshop. If you don’t think there is, then you’re only kidding yourself –  your photography will never move forward.

Photographic Workshop, Robin Pope Safaris, South Luangwa, Zambia

I love trying to photograph some of the smaller fare on a trip, but there was just too much happening around us for our feet to touch the ground. I had a lot of trouble keeping the camera steady that afternoon. We had a baby elephant chasing a herd of impala around and it was just such a funny sight. Later we rounded off the day as we turned a corner in the gathering gloom to witness the same pride of lions we’d seen hunting the puku earlier. More luck as they brought a young impala down in the road right in front of us.

Yellow-billed storks, South Luangwa, Zambia

A day like that is difficult to beat, but the workshop continued in a similar vein. Soon we left Nkwali behind and were heading up river to RPS’ Nsefu Camp. With Daudi at the helm we made a pit stop at Tena Tena, but in the Emerald Season the camp is almost underwater and closed for the time being. Not that it’s a good reason to avoid a visit as South Luangwa, as this time of year it’s just another world compared to the dry season. Still plenty going on, plenty of birds, and so few people. Our mission at Nsefu is to photograph the yellow-billed storks. Their colony close to the camp is one of the biggest in southern Africa – a great opportunity for taking pictures of birds in flight.

African Skimmers, South Luangwa, Zambia

While the storks are quite slow flyers, the same cannot be said for the African skimmers. Flying quickly over the Luangwa River, beaks open, they’re a real challenge for any photographer and I have great fun trying for a good picture of them in action. Keeping a careful eye on the crocs and hippos in the river I finally get a picture I’m happy with.

Crocodile, South Luangwa, Zambia

Another great feature of Nsefu in Emerald Season is the sunken mahogany forest and we spend the afternoon from the boat photographing this arboreal spectacle. All too soon though we return to Nkwali and inevitably back home to South Africa. So was the David Rogers Workshop in the valley a good experience? No, it was great! And did I learn anything photographically? Absolutely! Many thanks to Braston, Daudi, Rita and the rest of the RPS team for such a great trip. David too… now what were they saying about the dry season workshop later this year?!

Hippo, Ebony Groves, South Luangwa, Zambia


So, back to earth.  This week has been great with lots of highs at Nkwali. My parents have arrived from Portugal to visit me. A couple of very good friends, surprised their wives by arriving without mention to their respective wives they would meet up…… what a surprise – how is that for scoring points!

Linda and Michael from the UK have arrived to visit us again. This is their 8th visit to RPS. Jacob mentioned yesterday at dinner that they were one of the first couples that he had the pleasure of guiding just after he became a guide, more than 10 years ago!! After a few days in the bush they will move onto the lake to enjoy a relaxing time in the sun at Pumulani.

Happy Easter everyone, from everyone at RPS and have a wonderful week!


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