To be a successful wildlife photographer, you have to be ready for action at any time and sometimes I’m just not!
On our recent trip to Zambia, we were in a small boat cruising along the Lufupa River in Kafue National Park. The water was calm. There were a few birds along the shore, but too far away for photographing. To my right, in the sunlight, were some picturesque trees at the river’s edge. I decided to try some landscapes. I changed my f-stop to f11 and started to frame a few shots.
Suddenly the boatman/guide noticed some movement along the left bank. To the left, on the shady side of the river, we spotted a group of wild dogs in pursuit of a puku. Without thinking, I turned, raised the camera, focused on one of the dogs and started to track him, clicking away.
The action was over very quickly. The puku jumped into the river and swam to the other bank and the dogs were soon out of sight. Only then did I realize that because I had stopped down for the landscapes, my shutter speed was much too slow to capture sharp images of the dogs in action. What I got was, well, totally blown.
Of course that turned out to be our only opportunity to photograph these dogs in the wild since they are endangered and rarely seen. I couldn’t bear to delete all the shots so I kept a few to remind myself (again) to think before pushing the shutter. I guess you could say that the images at least capture something about the dogs – their beautiful distinctive coloring and their speed when hunting.
At least this story had a happy ending for the puku.