Monday, May 28, 2012

Photo Hides at Mashatu

I have just spent the last 5 days at our photo hides up at Mashatu. My one main goal was to build another hide, which we did very successfully. So expect more unique and exciting images from our clients at the new hide soon. (Click on the images to enlarge)
The other reason for my visit was to get as much time and photography in the underground elephant hide as possible. This was a very easy feat as the animal action was continually impressive all and every morning. I was fascinated by the diversity of subjects to photograph. Every morning offered something different and each morning there was at least two or three photographic highlights.

I was very happy to be a wildlife photographer again and the low angle in the hides is so conducive to great images that each morning I was gunning to get going from camp to the hide! I even spent a night with Mike Dexter inside the hide, hoping to photograph the elephants in the moonlight. Unfortunately none came the night we overnighted, but as luck would have it, every other night (we had a camera trap set up). I think it must have been Mikes snoring... Here is a selection of some images from my 5 days in the hide. Enjoy. Shem Compion


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

C4 Photo Hide

C4 Images and Safaris have built an underground photo hide at Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana. The water in front of the hide is attracting large herds of elephant every day giving the wildlife photographer and viewer a unique perspective and proximity to these large creatures. Elephant aren't the only animals that are attracted to the water. Kudu, impala, warthog, hyena, baboons and various bird species all frequent it presenting many excellent photo opportunities. To see more check out :

Monday, May 7, 2012

C4 Images and Mashatu deliver on a grand scale. - Dave Barnes

How do I start to explain the photographic experience that I had with C4 Images at Mashatu over the last few days. Driving back to Pretoria my mind is filled with the many adrenaline packed moments my wife and I experienced during an action packed 5 days.
Our first evening drive commenced with a sighting of 2 very young lion cubs with their eyes just starting to open being brought out of cover by a very inexperienced mother. This was followed by a sighting of 2 young leopards on a kill.
On our first morning outing as we were heading for the underground hide our short journey was interrupted by wild dog spoor. Following the tracks as well as the clues of a male Kudu’s sideways glace and fast retreat soon led us to the pack. We followed them on the move and shared some quality time with them frolicking around a water hole in the river bed.
Well we finally made it to the underground hide a bit later than expected but nobody was complaining. At around 09h00 followed what can only be described as an experience of a life time. Without any warning the water hole was surrounded by a herd of elephants around 60 strong some close enough to touch. Looking up at these gentle giants from ground level is a photographer’s dream come true. But with all the action and opportunities it is easy to fall into the trap of shooting away and forgetting to consider how to capture the essence of what is happening in front of one.
Our afternoon destination was the Bee-eater hide but we were again diverted this time by a sighting of hyenas surrounding a kudu carcass. Although in a shady river valley the activity and interaction between the clan members as well as the appearance of a jackal made for interesting photographic opportunities. Leaving the hyenas to do their thing we passed a leopard sleeping in the thickets but decided to pass by and head for our destination. Well all this activity led to us arriving at the bird hide just as the light was fading. A good time to get a few portraits images of the bee-eaters, but a bit late to capture them in flight.
After sundowners we decided to return to the leopard to see if he had awoken from his snooze. Well our timing could not have been better as he headed off to the waterhole to quench his thirst prior to setting off for the evening hunting session. Well it was not only the leopard that required to wet his throat the hyenas also felt it necessary to do so. We soon learnt that a single hyena is no match and does not scare a leopard but as soon as he retreated and brought along a friend it was time for the leopard to make a hasty retreat up the nearest tree.
Over the next few days the action did not stop and we had great sightings and encounters at the waterhole and on game drives. For those of you that have considered this photo hides workshop book now I am sure that as the word gets around it will be difficult to find a spot available.
Join C4 on our next Photo Workshop at Mashatu:
13-17 July 2012
3-7 August 2012


African Time - Mike Dexter

It’s 9:00 and we’ve been in the hide for an hour and a half. A herd of impala just moved off, as have the guinea fowl and go-away birds. Only a scattering of turtle doves remain, kicking up small clouds of dust as they shuffle down to the still water. It’s almost time to head back to camp for a hearty brunch when a movement catches the corner of my eye. I look right and there, only 2 meters away, is a pair of huge grey wrinkled feet. Then from the left another appears, a silent giant approaching the waterhole. The elephants are here.
Soon dozens more fill the world before us. All that exists at this moment is elephants, water, shutters and my heart drumming in my ears. We are part of the herd, looking up into thirsty mouths, almost touching the dripping trunks and cracked toe nails. Never in my life have I been as much absorbed and overwhelmed as I am at this moment. It’s difficult to think about framing, composition or exposure and I can barely hold the camera in my trembling hands. Even so, from this angle and from this close, a bad photograph is unlikely. It’s difficult to count but there are easily more than 60 elephants in this herd. After half an hour they start to move off, a slow procession throwing up clouds of dust as they make their way towards the distant feeding grounds across the river.
The next morning 08:35 comes by. We’ve been at the hide since just after 06:00 and have had some great birding. The typical deep grumble tells us that elephants are in the area and minutes later they appear from the mopane thickets in the East. It’s a breeding herd of 20 individuals, and they’re thirsty. Yesterday’s experience is repeated with equal intensity only now we are prepared. We’ve talked about how to maximise the photographic opportunity and what to concentrate on. We manage to control our shaking hands and start thinking about the photography. It’s difficult to do but back at the lodge the results speak for themselves as we review our photographs.
Over the next 2 days we were to have another 5 elephant encounters at the hide. What we noticed was the regularity at which the elephants were visiting the waterhole. Of the 7 elephant sightings 5 occurred between 08:30 and 09:00; whoever said ‘African time’ is unreliable clearly didn’t have the elephants of Mashatu in mind.
Ground level elephant sightings aside, we had some incredible game viewing on the latest C4 photo workshop including, but not limited to, wild dogs, aardwolf, tiny lion cubs and 6 different leopards.