Victor Steel Photography e-Bulletin
No. 002
July 2006



This issue's theme: Tanzania, Africa 2006. I visited Tanzania again this year, with a group of dedicated photographers fulfilling a lifelong dream of visiting the famed Wild Game Parks of East Africa. Babies were the order of the day, and as usual we had great cat activity; lions and cheetah with cubs. Several leopards were seen, both in Tarangire National Park and in the Serengeti National Park. Once again, we were in the capable hands of Unique Safaris, and with three photographers per stretch Land Cruiser we had plenty of room.


Masai Giraffe with 3-day-old baby

In the early morning as we left camp in the Serengeti, we happened upon these giraffes in silhouette. By stopping the vehicle just with the sun beyond the subject I was able to outline the baby's head with rim lighting from the sun. The background was too bright for the lighting to show on the mama. The baby still had some umbilical cord remaining.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, 600mm/f4, 1/5000 @ f/4, ISO 400, EV -1


Arusha National Park. We visited Arusha National Park for a short day trip. This park gives an opportunity for several animals perhaps not seen elsewhere, such as the Colobus Monkey. Its also a great introduction to the diversity of wildlife to be seen in the parks.

Colobus Monkey

Arusha National Park is one of the few places in Tanzania where Colobus monkeys can be readily seen. These white and black monkeys are difficult to photograph, as they are usually in the trees with bright sky as background. Exposing for the highlights will allow the detail in the white hair to come through, which is usually preferable even if the dark fur goes completely black.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, 600mm/f4, 1/320 @ f/4.5, ISO 400, EV 0

Ngorongoro Crater. The crater is, as always, full of excitement and non-stop action. We saw a number of lions on the move, and had black rhino cross directly in front of our vehicle. As there are very few black rhino left in the world today, the Ngorongoro Crater offers a rare opportunity to see these magnificent animals.

Black Rhinoceros

The Black Rhinoceros is extremely endangered; so much so that Ngorongoro Crater is one of the few places left in the world where one can have a reasonable chance to see and photograph them.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, 600mm/f4, 1/400 @ f/8, ISO 400, EV 0

We arrive at the park as soon as the gates open so we have the maximum opportunity to see diurnal and some nocturnal activity. The lions in the Crater were on the move early in the morning, as usual, and were checking out several herds of wildebeest and zebra. We followed a pair of males and a pair of females as they hunted for a couple of hours, but did not see a kill.

Lion watching panicked wildebeest herd

The lions in the Ngorongoro Crater are active early in the  morning. This one of a pair was moving by a herd of wildebeest, watching and evaluating the possibility of a kill. The herd became nervous and began to run wildly past her position. I used a 1/20s shutter speed to show the motion and illustrate what was happening.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, 600mm/f4 + 2x, 1/20 @ f/22, ISO 500, EV 0

Tarangire National Park. Tarangire reminds me of a prehistoric forest, with its preponderance of Baobab trees. These trees can live over 3000 years, and are very common here in the park. We also saw a leopard on a Baobab tree, and saw lions and cheetahs in the park as well. We saw more elephants than ever before, including some groups up to 60 elephants strong!

Elephant cleaning grass

Elephants graze on the grasses as well as the brush and trees in Tarangire National Park. This big male was eating grass, but the dust in the dry season can be horrendous! He would grab a mouthful, then swirl the grass in his trunk for a few seconds to rid it of dust and dirt before eating it. I slowed the shutter just enough to show the blur in the trunk with the grass to illustrate his behavior, but keeping the rest of the elephant's body sharp.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, 600mm/f4 with 2x, 1/20 @ f/22, ISO 500, EV 0

Lake Manyara National Park. This is a beautiful, small park. I sometimes refer to this park as "Baboon Park", as I've always had great opportunities with baboons here. The scenery here is also beautiful, with both the lake and mountains to see.

Olive Baboons playing

These baboons were playing near the road, jumping and fighting and running around like a bunch of kids, for over an hour. This one in particular seemed to be the cause of most of the activity. We watched and photographed until the group finally moved into the brush, encouraged by some strong words from the dominant male.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, 600mm, 1/400 @ f/5, ISO 400, EV 0


Olive Baboons preening & peeking

Baboons are very social, and spend a great deal of time preening each other, and tending to their young. This pair was taking care of their social duties, when suddenly a small baby peeked out from under it's mama.

Canon 20D, 70-200mm @ 85mm, 1/500 @ f/2.8, ISO 400, EV 0

Serengeti National Park. My favorite park in Tanzania, the Serengeti is awesome both during the migration as well as off-migration. The various kopjes provide great habitat for cats, and the wide-open spaces provide a great opportunity for viewing herds of gazelle, wildebeest, zebra, and many other large and small mammals. I always like to stay in the mobile tented camp in the Serengeti, as the sounds surrounding the camp at night remind me that I'm visiting the home of some very wild animals.

Hyenas and Thompson's Gazelle

The hyenas were leisurely walking down the path; they had been well-fed from the previous night and were not interested in chasing a Tommy today. But the Tommy was taking no chances, and he high-tailed it once the hyenas got within "striking distance."

Canon 1Ds Mark II, 600mm, 1/160 @ f/10, ISO 800, EV 0


Random Images:

Lion cubs continue to be one of my favorite subjects in Africa. I've seen and photographed many species of mammals in East Africa, but looking at a young lion gives me the most insight into the power, strength and security of being at the "top of the food chain." When I view other animals, I think of the food chain and the circle of life, and especially the struggle to survive to adulthood. When I look at lions, I think of winning. That is not to say, of course, that lions do not fall victim at times, especially cubs. But being at the top, being the dominant predator in Africa, gives a sense of security that allows cubs to be raised and nurtured and taught differently than any other mammal in Africa. We can learn a lot from lions.

Lioness with cubs

These lions were resting in the shadow of a Kopjes in the mid-morning sun. The mother was not concerned with us in the safari vehicle, but the cubs were making sure we were keeping our distance. They soon laid down for a nap.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, 600mm/f4 + 2x, 1/320 @ f/8, ISO 400, EV -1/3


Black-headed Heron

There are several herons in Africa, and the Black-headed Heron looks similar to the Gray Heron, but with black legs and no white on it's crown. This heron was perched on a dead tree stump near a hippo pool in the Serengeti National Park.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, 600mm/f4 + 2x, 1/640 @ f/16, ISO 640, EV 0


Saddle-billed Storks

This pair of saddle-billed storks were fishing the shore of this pond, and I watched while one stretched a wing.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, 600mm/f4 + 2x, 1/250 @ f/8, ISO 640, EV 0


Tawny Eagle

We had stopped to investigate a lion kill near a dead tree. As we watched the lion feeding on the zebra, I glanced up and noticed this Tawny Eagle perched just above on the tree.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, 600mm/f4 + 2x, 1/80 @ f/8, ISO 500, EV +2/3


Long-Crested Eagle

The Long-Crested Eagle calling.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, 600mm/f4 + 2x, 1/100 @ f/8, ISO 500, EV -2/3


More images are available on my web site, at http://www.victorsteel.biz in the Galleries.


Victor Steel Photography PO Box 1321
Driggs, ID 83422