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Sonja’s amazing wildlife photos November 14, 2010

Posted by Jenny in photography, travel, wildlife.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Click twice for full zoom, and you'll see the leopard's eyelashes. Photo by Sonja Myburgh.

I described in my last post how I experienced “my wildlife” through my own eyes and through my own lens. It was an experience I would not trade for anything. You, my readers, were very kind about my efforts at wildlife photography. But in this post you will see what wildlife photography is really all about.

It was one of the several incredibly lucky things about my trip to South Africa that I was in the company of Sonja Myburgh, president of the Bloemfontein Camera Club and a prize-winning photographer. When you look at these photos, you will see why she is considered to be so accomplished. Of course, I could say to myself, “It’s all just the equipment! Give anyone the right camera, and they’ll get the right pictures!” But no, there’s much more to it than that.

It’s true that Sonja has a lot of excellent photographic equipment.

Sonja has the camera lenses you really need for high-quality wildlife photography

But knowing how to use the equipment, and having the eye for the composition, is not so simple. With no intention at all to be unduly self-deprecating, I will say that I do not have the aptitude for bringing complex equipment together with the perceptive eye. I don’t worry about it too much—every now and then I get a nice picture—but my talent really lies more with the written word. One of the nice things about getting older is that you stop thinking you have to try to be great at everything—at any rate, I gave up on that a long time ago!

I watched Sonja juggling with different lenses and deciding what to use for what kind of shot. One of her cameras was capable of getting off multiple shots in the space of a second—it sounded a bit like a machine gun when she was using it. And I saw her and Arnold working as a team—with him at the wheel of our vehicle, we would patiently go back and forth on the road to get the right angle, sometimes manuevering through a bit of a traffic jam, while she had the big telescopic lens sitting on a special holding device on the top of the partially cranked-down window.

At any rate, enough of these words. Let’s have the pictures that are worth far more than a thousand of them apiece.

I spoke of the mating lions in the last post. Here they are.


Photo by Sonja Myburgh


Photo by Sonja Myburgh

I saw that incredible scene through the high-powered binoculars, but I knew it was a waste of time to try with my point-and-shoot camera.

Here are more shots of the leopards we saw.

Photo by Sonja Myburgh

Photo by Sonja Myburgh

Photo by Sonja Myburgh

Here is one of the Cape buffalo that stopped traffic in Kruger:

Photo by Sonja Myburgh

And, last but not least, here is an elephant. Thank you, Sonja—and thank you, Arnold, for making the whole thing possible.

Photo by Sonja Myburgh


1. Roon - November 19, 2010

I’m green with envy of your reportorial and writing talent in presenting so much high-quality text and picture material on your South African visit. Your Boer War stuff was excellent, but your wildlife series crowns it all. Dammit, I just have to go tjhere myself to see what’s happened to the old country after I last saw it under white rule in 1988!
Congratulations and cheers

Jenny - November 19, 2010

Thanks, Roon! The wildlife was a lot of fun, but for me the essential core of the trip was the Boer War stuff. I’ll be writing one more bit related to the war as I thought about it on my trip, and then that’ll be it for the “In South Africa” series. I hope you do have a chance to go back there before long.

2. TWL - November 20, 2010

The eyelashes on the leopard are an astounding detail by an amazing photographer.

But I have to admit I am still stuck on the photographs of the lion and lioness playing.

Is he really biting her neck? Isn’t that something we all did as teenagers? I am reminded of the Rod Stewart song which goes, “She took me up on deck/ and bit my neck./People, I was glad I found her!”

Jenny - November 20, 2010

Yes, he really is biting her neck.

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