Trip report: Chobe River, Kasane (Botswana) – August 2012 (Part 1)

My wife and I have just returned from another trip on the Chobe River in the Northern part of Botswana (close to Kasane). As always, we used the boat of Lou Coetzer (Coetzernaturephotography) for this trip and this was my third trip on the boat (my wife’s fifth trip). This time Lou and Veronia had other commitments but Lou’s son Henry was our trip guide along with KT as the boat “driver”. They are a very competent team and we were not disappointed with the quality of sightings. As advertised on Lou’s website, the Nikon equipment is provided by them but one can bring one’s own equipment (we usually bring our own equipment). This was the first time our friend, Johan Kotze (very keen photographer) joined us for this trip and he enjoyed using with the Nikon equipment on the boat. As one can see on the photo below:

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Johan is the one standing behind the camera and I am sure he did enjoy the trip. We’ll wait for his photos and the submission to our monthly camera club – not to mention his first salon submissions. I am sure no more bronze awards for his photos – only gold and COMs. The wife is sitting in front, Henry alongside Johan aiming with the camera and KT behind the wheel of the boat. At this stage we were taking photos of the African Jacanas like this one:

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens with 1.4 convertor = 850mm, ISO800, f8, 1/2500, exposure = -1.00, WB = auto, Aperture mode)

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Unfortunately there were not young Jacanas but only a few juveniles and we did not get the award-winning shot like Lou did – once again, well done Lou with your photo and award. But nevertheless, it was worth paying a visit or two to the Jacana village on the river.

On our very first cruise of the trip we came across this very interesting Black-crowned night heron sitting in a relatively open area. Not for very long as they are very shy birds but I managed to get a shot or two of the bird because the boat does not really stop for sighting like this. It is “shooting from the hip” or shooting while the boat is cruising while passing many such birds and photo opportunities. But one gets use to shooting while cruising.

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens with 1.4 convertor = 850mm, ISO640, f5.6, 1/5000, exposure = -0.67, WB = auto, Aperture mode, 15 meters from subject, the high shutter speed was because I expected the heron to fly and I was prepared for the bid (bird in flight) photo as one does not get such opportunities very often)

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On the next cruise and almost on the very same spot as the previous photo, we saw this pair of Green back herons chasing each other from branch to branch. Very tricky conditions – between and below the branches of the trees just above the water level of the river and shooting while the boat is cruising along. It is more a “hope and hit” type of shot – the reason for the poor quality of the photo. The only perfect aspect of the photo is the quality and direction of the light – very early morning almost around the first bend of the river. Still, a very nice experience and exercise.

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens with 1.4 convertor = 850mm, ISO1600, f4, 1/3200, exposure = -0.33, WB = auto, Aperture mode, 15 meters from subject)

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And then there were the “normal”  animals along the river. One just needs to be awake and alert – as many of them can look very relax like this croc:

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens with 1.4 convertor, ISO640, f5.6, 1/2500, exposure = -1.00, WB = auto, Aperture mode, 25 meters from subject)

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And then all of a sudden there is action. In this case, one moment the croc was still lying on the bank and the next moment he is quietly “sliding” into the river. If you do not keep you camera on the croc while the boat is cruising pass it, you won’t get a shot like this. The croc is just too quick for you as a photographer to swing your camera around, aim, focus and then shoot. So, be prepared and never relax while passing animals or birds on the river.

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens with 1.4 convertor, ISO640, f5.6, 1/2000, exposure = -1.00, WB = auto, Aperture mode, 21 meters from subject)

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Once again – very challenging photo opportunity (the photo above) as it is very difficult to get a proper focus point on the croc while the boat is cruising, confusing elements around it and the relatively flat water level. It is much easier when they stopped the boat and the croc is floating slowly in the water.

Next action photo – is it aggression or it is boredom? I think it is the latter.

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens with 1.4 convertor, ISO1250, f5, 1/5000, exposure = -0.67, WB = auto, Aperture mode, 40 meters from subject)

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The boat will be stopped once there are signs of activities amongst the hippos as such activities can produce some interesting and unusual photos (especially at the angle one gets from the boat) – see some of the photos on my previous posts. As you can see. we do stay a safe distance from the hippos and KT is always keeping an eye on other hippos around the boat.

Well, it was just the introduction to another very successful trip on Lou’s boat and Henry was a great guide providing the necessary assistance, advice and Capture NX2 (post-processing of photos in between the cruises in the conference room of the lodge) advice afterwards.

More to follow in a next post.

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  1. #1 by Landi on August 12, 2012 - 8:42 pm

    Good grief, nie geweet dis eers moontlik om ‘n bek so groot te rek soos daardie seekoei nie! Pragtige fotos 🙂

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