Just returned from Zambia for this year's Beyond The Great Rivers tour - it was awesome. I've been on safaris in all African safari countries, and Zambia is easily one of my favorites. It's not as crowded as the Masai Mara, the Serengeti or Kruger, not as expensive as the Okavango, you can drive off road, you're not limited to opening or closing times of the parks, you can get out of your vehicle, and there's lots of water. During the hot dry season that's where all the animals will be so and that's where most of the activity will be.
We used small boats to photograph the wildlife on the shore (elephants, crocs, buffalo, etc.) and in the water. One of my favorite animals in and around the Zambezi is the hippo. They're big, dangerous, often shy, and very photogenic - that is, when they're not submerged. :-)
I haven't had time to select or process any images from this year's trip yet, so here's one from last year. Shot while sitting on the bottom of a small boat to get the low angle. We banked the boat at a safe distance from a pod of hippos, an hour or so before sunset.
The key to success when photographing hippos, is patience. The moment you stop near a pod they usually submerge and only show themselves every now and then to take a deep breath. After a while however, they get used to your presence and get more relaxed. Hippos are very territorial and can be ill-tempered - a dangerous mix. They can be aggressive towards people, but also towards other hippos. And when hippos have an argument, there's always a lot of noise and splashing involved.
This hippo had a brief conflict with one of its neighbors, which resulted in a series of intimidating big head and teeth displays. This shot is basically the end of that little quarrel, and I liked the profile, the expression and the soft directional light.
If you would like to join me on our next Zambia workshop, please check out my website for more information, pictures and tour impression video clips: