Amazing Amboseli

Posted by Piper & filed under Africa, Blog, travel, Wild life.

I recently return from another magical safari in Kenya. There are  so few experiences in life that go beyond ones expectations, but Africa seems to deliver on this,  over and over again. Amboseli, known for its mass herds of elephants, is one of my favorite National Parks in Kenya.This years trip  was simply amazing.  My main reason for going to Amboseli is to experience the mass herds of elephants and zebras crossing the open dusty plains. Capturing some of the iconic images in this location is simply a bonus.

Canon 5D Mark II, 200mm, f/14, 1/500 -0.67

Canon 5D Mark II, 200mm, f/14, 1/500 -0.67

I like to inform those traveling with me that this should be our focus; it is what is special to this area.  The big cats are hard to find and even if you do, it is rare to have a good sighting. I let them know there  will be plenty of opportunities to experience and photograph the big cats in the Mara. Well this trip, Amboseli proved me to be quite wrong.  Right on Q, only a few minutes into the park, we were welcomed by one of the many groups of elephants that would cross our paths , over the next three days.

Canon 1DX, 500mm, 1/2000, f8, ISO 500

Canon 1DX, 500mm, 1/2000, f8, ISO 500

We arrived at our lodge, settled in, and had lunch, while being surrounded by the picturesque beauty of Africa and its wildlife. Early afternoon we hopped in the Land-cruisers  to head out on our first official game drive, with a plan of action. That soon change the minute our vehicles got out of the gate. There was a sighting of two cheetahs hunting. When we arrived, they were very close to the road and passed right along beside us. It was an amazing sighting, a great way to start our safari.

Canon 1D-X, 500mm, f/20, 1/800, ISO 1000

Canon 1D-X, 500mm, f/20, 1/800, ISO 1000

 

Canon 1D-X, 500mm, f/7.1, 1/800, ISO 1000

Canon 1D-X, 500mm, f/7.1, 1/800, ISO 1000

Lucky for the Zebra, they are too big for the cheetah to bother with.  However, it did cause a large group of them to run off, creating a lot of dust and a perfect photographic opportunity.

Canon 1D-X, 500mm, F 7.1, 1/1000, ISO 200

Canon 1D-X, 500mm, F 7.1, 1/1000, ISO 200

 

Canon 5D Mark II, 130mm, F 10, 1/640, -0.33, ISO 200

Canon 5D Mark II, 130mm, F 10, 1/640, -0.33, ISO 200

 

The next morning within minutes of going out on our first game drive, we had two studly male lions cross our path for a brief moment. Just enough time to raise our cameras and grab a few shots.

Canon 1D-X, 500mm, f/13, 1/ 500, ISO 1000

Canon 1D-X, 500mm, f/13, 1/ 500, ISO 1000

 

Canon 1D-X, 500mm, f/13, 1/ 500, ISO 1000

Canon 1D-X, 500mm, f/13, 1/ 500, ISO 1000

 

Then later that same afternoon we had another rare sighting of a Serval Cat, out in the open. The gazelle was larger than he wanted to bother with, so after a quick glance, he just kept going.

Canon 1D-X, f6.3, 500mm + 1.4 extender (700mm), + 0.67, 1/320, ISO 250

Canon 1D-X, f6.3, 500mm + 1.4 extender (700mm), + 0.67, 1/320, ISO 250

 

The action seemed to be non-stop and I had to remind myself we were in Amboseli and not the Mara. Even the Ostrich could not resist a dust bath.

Canon 1D-X, 500mm, f 7.1, 1/800, ISO 500

Canon 1D-X, 500mm, f 7.1, 1/800, ISO 500

 

Canon 1D-X, 500mm + 1.4 extender (700mm), f/11. 1/360, ISO500

Canon 1D-X, 500mm + 1.4 extender (700mm), f/11. 1/360, ISO500

 

Canon 1D-X, 500mm,  f 5.6, 1/1000, ISO 250

Canon 1D-X, 500mm, f 5.6, 1/1000, ISO 250

 

Canon 1D-X, f/8. 1/2000, ISO 500

Canon 1D-X, f/8. 1/2000, ISO 500

 

The last afternoon nature blew up one crazy dust storm, so we did not even have to wait for the zebra to stir  up the dust themselves.

Canon 5D Mark II, 500mm, f/7.1, 1/250, +0.67, ISO 640

Canon 5D Mark II, 500mm, f/7.1, 1/250, +0.67, ISO 640

 

Canon 5D Mark II, 500mm, f/7.1, -0.33, 1/500,  ISO 500

Canon 5D Mark II, 500mm, f/7.1, -0.33, 1/500, ISO 500

 

Canon 5D Mark II, 500mm, f/7.1, -0.33, 1/200,  ISO 500

Canon 5D Mark II, 500mm, f/7.1, -0.33, 1/200, ISO 500

 

The final morning we spotted a herd way off in the distance, but coming fast. Our divers estimated they were moving approx 40 MPH. It was a highlight and a great send off.

Canon 1D-X, 200mm + 1/4 extender (280), f/13, 1/250, ISO 1250

Canon 1D-X, 200mm + 1/4 extender (280), f/13, 1/250, ISO 1250

 

In the end, it was one of the best Amboseli trips  I have experienced. We were off to an excellent start!!

Canon 5D Mark II, 70-200, 100mm, f/14, 1/1000, ISO 1000

Canon 5D Mark II, 70-200, 100mm, f/14, 1/1000, ISO 1000

A Red Letter Day

Posted by Piper & filed under Africa, Blog, goals, inspiration, travel, Wild life.

Well it has been a crazy couple of months, starting with the opening of my show at G2 gallery on May 21. I was honored to have many of you there on the opening night. I think all the seeds I was busy planting at the beginning of the year all sprouted at the same time. June and July were some of the most exciting but demanding months in this crazy journey so far. I finished my first ebook that is being published by Trey Radcliff and you will be hearing more about the release over the next few weeks. However, yesterday was such a big day for me and I am excited to finally share it with you.

Naturescapes made the official announcement that I will now be leading safari’s for them.  It is such an honor to be part of this team especially since I have such deep admiration for the owner, Greg Downing. For those of you that do not know about Naturescapes, it is a highly respected and successful online magazine and community that is now in its 10th year.

My first safari with them “The best of Kenya” will be in August 2013 This special itinerary offers the best of Kenya; Amboseli National Park, Samburu National reserve, and the famous Masia Mara during the migration season! To maximize our time in each reserve we will be flying between each location. Each of these reserves offers something special and different. I have spent a great deal of time in all three locations because they are my favorite places to photograph African wildlife in Kenya. Amboseli has great herds of elephants and zebra roaming across the dusty plains with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background. Samburu is home to the rare Gravy’s Zebra’s, Reticulated Giraffes and Oryx. The Masai Mara, the crown jewel of Africa, is host to one of the greatest wildlife shows on earth during the time of the migration. There is just no place on earth that rivals the exotic wildlife during this time. It would be fantastic to have some of you join us as few spots are already spoken for. You can view the full details here.

One thing that I have been constantly reminded of in this journey is that if you work as hard as possible and never give up… and I do believe that is the key to success… is to NEVER give up…keep marching towards that dream and it will happen….it will not be easy….in fact it will be much harder than you can imagine, but when you reach a huge goal in the journey like this one… there is no greater joy!!

The announcement below was in the August 1 newsletter of Naturescapes, which included a wonderful interview written by Kari Post, a very talented photographer and write. Click here to read the entire interview.

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E-Newsletter Announcement.

Posted by Piper & filed under Africa, Blog, Wild life.

It’s hard to believe that I will be back in the US in three weeks. I left the US with the unrealistic expectations that I would be able to post and share some stories along the way, but it has been non-stop since I touched down in Ethiopia on Feb 2. I did not have the internet access I had hoped for in the Omo (not a bad thing) and when I arrived back into Addis there was a city wide power outage that effect the internet! I then went on to Arusha, Tanzania to meet my group for our Safari in Tanzania and Rwanda. I am excited to share that it was wildly successful and we were all just too busy having too much fun for me to get a chance to post anything!! I said good –bye to my wonderful group in the Nairobi airport on the evening of March 4th and I am now staying with a friend in the Karen area of Nairobi for a few days before continuing on to Mali in West Africa. I am trying to catch up, fit in my meetings about my next three safari’s and spend sometime with old friends. I leave for Mali day after tomorrow and I have not yet started doing an initial edit of the images I created in the past month!! I will start to share the images and stories through this blog when I arrive in the US.

I am excited to announce I am working on my first e-newsletter. Separate from my blog that contains stories, idea’s, and photography, the newsletter will contain information such as new tours, workshops, events, gallery shows, classes I am teaching and the likes. If you would like to receive a copy of my newsletter by email you can subscribe in the sidebar to the right of this post. At this time I will only be sending e-newsletters when there is news or updates to events already listed.

I have randomly selected just a few images from the past month in Eastern Africa as a preview of what is to come. I also look forward to catching up with my friends and family in the states when I return.

There we lots of babies

 

Lots of rare sightings

Striped Hyena with pup

Lions in trees

Lots of action

Lots of Big Cats

Lots of Gorilla’s

 

And more tribes

 

 

 

 

 

National Geographic, Maybe….

Posted by Piper & filed under Wild life.

About a week ago I was on the National Geographic website doing some research and on a fluke clicked on the best shots photo gallery. They were requesting to upload your best animal shot, so I grab an image, uploaded it and forgot about it. Then last week I received and email, which I thought was from National Geographic, stating that my image was photo of the day. Well that was not exactly right, nor was it from NGO but I was  in the daily dozen and the email had been sent by a friend.  Soon I discovered that your image is voted on and rated, and if it wins they print it in the next edition of National Geographic. With  less than a week to go, I have decided it would be a hoot to win and  am asking for your help to vote and keep my rating.

You have to click on week 3 at the top right corner and then rate all the images. Helpful is to just rate all the other images as a 1 (as it lowers thier rating) but only if you feel right about it, and then rate mine as a 10:) which raises my rate….. LOL. My image is #39 Thanks for your time and VOTE and sharing this link with your friends.

 

Please click on the link and vote

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.​com/your-shot/voting- machine

 

Miracle in the Mara

Posted by Piper & filed under Africa, Blog, Wild life.

6 cheetah cubs, 4 weeks old

I am asked often, “Why do you keep going back the Massai Mara in Kenya?”

The pictures below could answer that question without any words, but I love the Mara because of the Big Cats.

Although the changes of the western world are affecting this amazing wild place at an alarming rate, being there during the migration time is like no other wild life area anywhere in the world.

This year’s miracle was a cheetah, named Shingo, with 6 cubs! Why is that a miracle? On the average, a cheetah usually has between 3-5 cubs, and only 5% of the cubs will survive. That is only 1 out of every 20. Most fall prey to predictors when the mother is out hunting.  At the time I photographed these cubs they were about 4 weeks old. They were spotted, and it was reported that all 6 were still alive.

Cheetahs  are on the endangered species list and their numbers are under 10,000.

The cheetah’s main defense is their speed and being able to blend into their environment.

or NOT

Mother was hunting, but was not sucessfull during this attempt.

She was successful the next evening.

One advantage of returning to the same place is developing relationships with your guides and drivers and staying in contact with them. Several weeks prior to arriving I am usually in contact with them every few days to find out what is happening so I can plan my time and focus on capturing special moments.

This is also why I venture solo to the Mara, much of the time. When I know I am seeing something very special, I want to spend as much time as possible observing, experiencing, documenting and capturing it. I spent the majority of my time over 10 days, following this cheetah and her cubs. Not only did I capture some great moments but I experienced something very rare.  The magic of the Mara and Africa is that every time I go back I see something different and more amazing than the prior trip.

Photographer or not, Africa is a place everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.

Rescuing an Elephant

Posted by Piper & filed under Africa, Blog, Wild life.

I actually wrote this about a week ago, but I am just able to get proper internet to upload it.

I am so glad to finally be in the Mara, sitting in front of my beautiful Safari tent, taking a mid day break, just relaxing and listening to the beautiful sounds of Africa. This is an experience everyone should have, at least once in life. I have been fortunate to experience this many times in the past 6 years and it is still just as fantastic as the first.

It has been hard to post from the field, but hope to have more ready soon, so when I get back into Nairobi, I can just upload them.

After about 2 weeks, I was finally able to get out of Nairobi. The team headed to East Tsavo to meet with the senior warden. From there we headed to Salt Lick, a private reserve, for some fieldwork, mainly desnaring. When we arrived, we were notified of a buffalo with a snare around its leg and waited for the vet to arrive. However, when the vet arrived from the David Sheldrick Wildlife trust (the organization that runs the elephant orphanage) we discovered it was actually an Elephant with a wounded leg.

I was put into the vehicle with the rangers and raced out for a briefing, before they proceeded with darting the elephant.  It was one of the most thrilling experiences; one of the many I have had through the lens of my camera. Even with the debriefing, it was a challenge to photograph. It was the perfect time of day, the beautiful golden light was lurking, but the elephant went down in the wrong direction, and I thought it best not to ask if we had time to shift him.

I have included a few graphic images, but thought it was important to the story and the dedication of the team in helping this amazing free roaming animal.

Darting an Elephant

The dart is on the left side.

Getting ready to pull the elephant to it’s side

 

 

 

 

 

 

Falling to it’s side

 

Keeping him cool

 

Cleaning the wound

 

 

 

Spraying antiseptic

 

Preparing to revive him

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vetenarian

Since my arrival in Africa I have witnessed  the great work David Sheldrick Wildlife trust organization.  The work they do is amazing and I can stand behind telling you that the funds they receive are used for the purpose in which they are donated. To learn more, visit their website, www.seldrickwildlifetrust.org

The challenges of Africa

Posted by Piper & filed under Africa, Blog, Wild life.

First I wanted to say, it has been too long since my last post. I thought I would be sharing a post with all of you at least twice a week, but the realities of working in a developing country have greatly come into play.  I think it took me about 5 days to sort out the unlocked black berry that I brought with me. I will share details in a separate post. It was another week before I discovered that you could buy a modem, that looks like a flash drive,  put a sim card in it, load it with air time and instantly be on line anywhere there is cell phone service. This actually covers the vast majority of Kenya, even the remote area’s. This is a huge development since my last visit to Kenya two years ago. However,  it  can become expensive quite quickly, so I am using my black berry for  Face Book, Twitter, and one of my email accounts (but not my main email as I can’t yet figure out how to get mac. Mail on the Black Berry). I have been on Twitter,  and Facebook almost everyday, and I  encourage you to follow me on both for news on events as they are happening.

.Now add in multiple miscommunications, and extreme disorganization. You never quite know what the plan is, even though you  may have had a conversation about it 10 mins ago,  and where you think you are going and where you actually arrive can be quite different. This is the real Africa, off the beaten path.

I have been in a different place about every 3 days, and just returned from 5 days in the bush, and have a little time to post this and work on the next. Nimechoka ( I am tired in swahili)

While in Nairobi, 2 weeks ago,  I was invited to the Elephant orphanage and to see the feeding which starts at 11:00. I know many photographers that would have turned down the opportunity because by 11:00 the light is getting very harsh in Africa, but don’t miss and experience because the light is bad. It is though my lens that I have had some of the greatest moments in my life. So go, shoot, be in the moment and if you don’t get a great images from it, it is only pixels, but the experience maybe priceless. Watching these baby elephants play in the mud was great.  Knowing the light was not going to be the best, I actually decided to take my 500, which I had to hand hold, and I was planning to shoot tight and then possibly create a sepia series using Nik Silver effect and Color Effects to create the look that you see in my Wild on earth gallery. However, the sun really brought out the color of the beautiful red  earth of Africa.

Eyes to the soul

Mudd Play

African Earth

Also, don’t forget to be so caught up in the moment that you missing seeing other interesting things going on around you. When I looked up from the elephants I noticed this beautiful woman in the crown and a ranger on his Iphone! Talk about contrast.

Experience of Embedded Africa

Posted by Piper & filed under Africa, Blog, travel, Wild life.

Massai Women with her children

The Journey is about to begin…….

On Sept 1, 2010, for  a min of 6 mo, I will be immersing myself into many of  Kenya’s rural villages.  I will be investing time to live among the wildlife and people whose stories I will be telling. I will be living their stories, using intimate powerful imagery to create a relationship between the audience and the photographic subjects as a means to communicate the needs that people and wildlife have on the other side of the world to people here who have a desire to fill that need. I’ve established a working relationship with Village Volunteers, a Seattle-based non profit organization that works in partnership with rural villages and capacity-building programs to support the development of sustainable solutions for community survival, education, and growth, which in return helps to protect the wildlife and environment. Village Volunteers has also just partnered with ANAW (African Network for Animal Welfare) a group of ex-poachers who are now advocates against poaching. I will spend a month with them, where  I will  accompany them on de-snarling missions and learning about the challenges they are facing as the demand for bush meet and ivory has drastically increased. This will also be a part of my long term project, the protectors of wildlife, more on this later..

Paralleling my travels with the ongoing projects of Village Volunteers, I will also be spending time in the Massai Mara, during the migration, Ethiopia  for the TImket festival and to explore the Omo  valley, and I will also be in  Tanzania during the birthing season at the end of Jan.  I hope to also provide news from the local people on  the story of the highway that has been approved to be built directly through the Serengeti.

As a wildlife photographer, I believe the best way to preserve  and protect the wildlife and their environment is to help the care takers of the land, which is why my journey will combine both humanitarian,  and wildlife photography.

The world has enough images of poverty, pain and disaster, much more needful is imagery that reveals the beauty and dignity of communities that are, except by their geography and circumstances,  very similar to our own.   I want my imagery to tell the success of  the support to these communities and reserves which move people beyond pity and inspiring them to learn more about  cultures  and wildlife. I believe that compelling images can help to protect what is right in the world.

What am I going to pack?

Were exactly will I be?

How will I Stay connect ?

What is it like to be in a Maasai village at the edge of the Maasi Mara during Chistmas?

Follow my journey by subscribing to my my blog ( in the upper right side “subscribe by email” and receive an email when I make a new post), or just keep checking back

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