Keith, Les and Helen’s Out Of Africa Photographic Trip 2021

Last week’s meeting – Keith, Les and Helen’s Out Of Africa Photographic Trip 2021

Due to Covid travel restrictions the group’s (Ivor, Les Keith and Helen) tour of Namibia faced several postponements and changes but eventually last year the four of them set off. Keith started the talk with a summary of the itinerary, a 2750km round trip of Namibia taking in Etosha in the north, the Skeleton Coast in the west, down to Sossusvlei in the south then back to the capital, Windhoek.

Les then expanded on Keith’s summary. The summer rains meant that the watering holes for the animals were not as regularly visited as they would be in the dry season… but the watering holes for the humans appeared well frequented.

A lot of the landscape the group travelled through was vast, flat and featureless and Les caught this with several eerie looking shots. At a place called Palmwag Lodge elephants came within 20 yards and Les showed just how close they were. It was not just the wildlife that were photographed though. Namibia is a place of a discarded history. Down the Skeleton Coast there was an old rusted and abandoned oil derrick and an old shipwreck on the beach before coming into Swakopmund with its German colonial architecture.

Further south and inland, at a place called Solitaire, there were old wrecks of cars in various states of decay before finally reaching the huge and colourful sand dunes of Sossusvlei, parts studded with old dead trees.

Helen then showed her photographic diary of the trip. She always keeps a diary of her visits and mixes her superb photos with text from her diary and her knowledge of the wildlife she photographs. She says this is to share with her parents so that they can enjoy what she has been doing.

She ran through a shot of every animal they came across in Namibia, plus some people, and supplemented these excellent photographs with intriguing and thought-provoking comments and observations. We were shown, amongst many others, hippo, warthog, and elephant which all need to cover themselves with mud or soil to keep the baking sun off their hides. Painted dogs which are rarely seen to photograph and very rarely seen on Keith’s birthday. Lots of antelope: springbok, impala, oryx (very tasty), greater kudu with its twisted horns, red hartebeest, the minute dik dik and slightly larger steinbok, which runs into aardvark burrows when pursued by predators, and the common waterbuck, known as the ‘greasy kob’ as its pelt is very oily and difficult to eat and making it less of a prize kill for predators.

There were plenty of birds, many blended in perfectly with the surroundings, giving the photographs an attractive minimal colour palette. Pale chanting goshawk with prey, black shouldered kite, black bellied bustard, the devious fork tailed drongo which mimics a predator’s call so that it can steal food from others, an ostrich plus an abandoned ostrich egg on the ground, the Monteiro’s hornbill, red billed hornbill and The Lion King’s very own yellow billed hornbill.

There was a yawning lion – when a lion yawns it does it three times so that you can focus and get the exposure right – leopard, two cheetah brothers, spotted hyena, bat eared fox and a young, and an over friendly young caracal which spent the night in Helen’s room.

Helen also showed two excellent portraits of Himba women. The Himba live in northern Namibia and in southern Angola. The hair is very distinctive and so is their clothing. They are considered the last semi-nomadic people of Namibia.

And there was lots more to see in Helen’s fascinating and enjoyable presentation

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Oxford Photographic Society