It’s Monday 2nd June 2008 and the Cameras Click


It’s Monday 2nd June 2008 and the Cameras Click

From David Rogers, who leads our photographic safaris:

A large male leopard dropped in at Nsefu while we prepared for our final evening image review session. It was the third in three days and a fitting finale to another great digital photographic workshop. This was the first to be held in May (they are usually in March just after the rains) and the clear skies, prolific game and wildlife action made for great photographic opportunities. We saw lions swimming across the Crocodile River, walked alongside giraffe beneath the Chendeni Hills, marveled at elephants crossing the rapidly dropping Luangwa and saw chicks at the stork colony practicing their flying and fishing skills.

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The group comprised four singles – and everyone got on famously. Martine Jasmin – a talented wildlife artist from Reunion Island – was gathering new material to put onto canvas. Eva Kiefer– an African bush enthusiast from Switzerland was reuniting her love affair with Africa. Jeff Smith– from the United States on his first holiday in Africa– had a keen eye especially when it came to photographing people and a digital recorder to take home all the sounds of the bush. Bernard Poullier, from Paris, wished he had brought a SLR with a long lens, but showed me that you can take great images even with a point and shoot camera. The French do have great style – and we had three of them in the group.

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Jacob Shawa was as funny and skillful as ever showing us game and taking great pains to get us into the best possible light. And with his rakish hat and rifle slung over his shoulder, Jackson was everyone’s favourite model. Fearless when it came to snakes, lizards and other game, Martine had a phobia about caterpillars but, as long as we kept her away from these ‘scary’ creatures, she was deliriously happy and a delightful person. She even posed as a baby baboon on Jacob’s back as he crawled on all fours along the bank of a lagoon. It was a perfect ‘wild life’ opportunity for low light photography skills.

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Eva suggested taking photographs of a dinner table on the banks of the Luangwa and the Daudi and the Nkwali team was kind enough to oblige at 5.15 in the morning! Although the weather was not quite so helpful and produced a rather drab sky, everyone practiced our mantra, which is making the most of opportunities whatever they are.

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The opportunities were plentiful at the Kawaza Village – and the wonderful school with its delightful and enthusiastic children touched us all in different ways. “Where do you come from,” they asked Jeff, pointing at a map on the wall. “Come,” they said to Martine enticing her to join in their dance. We all made a dent in the nshima and village chicken, and hardly needed the sandwiches Jacob provided as insurance.

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Jeff’s family back in the States think he is extremely daring to come to Africa – and watching him wander off all alone on the bank of the Luangwa River to find some photo opportunities I tended to agree. (At the start of the trip I chuckled when he mentioned that he had once visited “a similar setup in the States”.) He has certainly seen the real Africa now and hopefully will entice the rest of his family on a trip soon. Bernard also plans to return with his parents for a few nights at Luangwa House.

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Jo and Robin met us for lunch at Nsefu. She was relaxed and happy after her successful knee operations and Robin was his usually warm and wonderful self. How fantastic to hear of their plans to build yet more schools so that everyone in the Nsefu Sector has a chance of an education. “And it is all thanks to generous donations from our guests,” Jo reminded us.

With extra early wake ups, and much of the days working on images and chatting, there was often not too much time for siestas. “I am not fussed about sleep,” said Jeff. “I can catch up when I get home.” And that is where I sit right now, missing the valley with its hippos, wonderful scenery, game and great people.

My next Photo Safari with the Popes is next March – so until then……

Dave Rogers

(note from Jo – dates for next year: 18 March, 22 May 2009)

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