by. Jack Roper
South Africa is the land where wild life unexpectedly crosses the dirt road right in front of your vehicle. Being a professional photographer from America, the captive world of the zoo, was usually one of my closest means of photographing wildlife, through bars and electric wire.
I had the opportunity to go to South Africa on a photo safari with Kolobe, an experienced team, who would guide you into a world of adventure. The difference I saw between the American zoos and the wild animals in South Africa was the freedom to run. Their run appeared to give them a sense of joy.
My joy was the freedom I had in not having to dodge my camera around brown zoo cement, which did not compliment the final image composition. In Africa, the background was open terrain and mountain sunrises and sunset. In the distance you could scan with your binoculars and see the young off spring skipping around their protective parents.
One thing I noticed was the eyes of the stalker seeking other prey: The experienced verses the naive young: The fast verses the slow and the restless seeking the resting.
One of the African tour guides, Jeff Engel, was a cable TV producer. His program was Jeff Engel’s Outdoor Experience, Jeff knew his stuff. He could give a history of the game and could spot them in a flash, like lightning in the distance.
Above us in the night skies was a sparkling view of the stars that you could almost touch. We set up our cameras, the Nikon verses the Canon, in performance testing to see who was the most brilliant photographer.
The Milky Way was a full nightly display. When I was a little kid, on a farm in Wisconsin, the closest I got to the Milky Way was the candy bar I had in my little hands from my “grateful” parents. Now I had a superb camera and a strong lens that I could navigate the stars into my digital memory card. From there I could upload the stars onto my website for my grandchildren to see. On their bedroom wall is that picture.
This is Africa where the animals roam freely, seeing the zoo as a foreign place to them. Where the young creatures can look up into the heavens and wonder! Mom? Can I have a Nikon so I can capture the stars and keep them in my memory?
It was an experience of a lifetime.