Morning confuses my jet-lagged system but one look out the window and the cobwebs clear like the clear morning, the clean air and the blue sky. Breakfast, duffel bag packing and we are off to our first game drive in the Lake Manyara national park. Lake Manyara is amazing in every way... the exhiliration of driving in an open 4x4 clad in safari fatigues, with lenses aimed, trigger-fingers itching is enough for day one. Add to that elephants, baboons, water fowl, buffalo... Wow!
Much later, I realize the wonderful trajectory of this trip. It rises steadily until the crescendo on the Serengeti.
Photography like any other hobby or profession is as intense and deep as its practitioner chooses to indulge it. There are two kinds of serious photographers those of passion and those who get thrown into the deep end with a DSLR, as it were. As our Toyota Land Cruiser descended the Ngorongoro’s rim today both such actors were making preparations within. In practiced fashion Fern was unveiling his two cameras, one massive camouflage-fabric covered zoom lens, filling his pockets with lenses, filters, memory cards, backup batteries and gadgets which he would deploy in foreseen situations. Fern the consumate pro neither has to tell you nor flaunt this expertise. It is obvious. I on the other had was frantically looking for my Canon DSLR which my wife had bought me to legitimize my enrollment into this photo safari and as an incentive for me to bring back to her the African wild which she would not and could not visit personally due to the abundance in Africa of these things called bugs. I found my camera bag and the slung it over my safari outfit feeling very John-Vainish... the camera subbing for a rifle. I was ready. Two memory cards, one battery (shhh….dont tell Fern this,”One battery for a 2 weeks African safari?”!!!) and one additional lens. Simple but adequate to deal with while learning the complex algebra of camera settings. We were going ‘full manual’ …. the automatic settings were outlawed and worse they were scoffed at. So here I was …read to point and shoot while juggling settings. Oh God have mercy on my images, please! My photo-prayer is this...
O God of all (imagi)nations
grant that in these our images
there maybe none
overexposed or blurred
whatever its fstop or shutter speed
that is cursed by the shackles of my photo-ignorance