Bob Primes, ASC, Dan Kneece, SOC and Yousef Linjawi
“The TRANSVIDEO CineMonitorHD8 SBL was so good that we used it rather than the Sony finder. “
Bob Poole warned us. The ride was going to be rough. Two L/Rovers with the rear seats removed for camera maneuvering space. Seven hours of roads even the locals called bad. Richard and Dennis with the pedal to the metal - slipping and sliding - teeth rattling washboard roads - climbing the side of the road to let another speeding Kamikaze L/Rover squeeze by on the narrow road - our Maasai drivers throwing their L/Rovers with the accuracy of a spear - and when a big bus or truck comes at us - Holy shit!
Dan rode shotgun with Dennis, Bob with Richard. Where was Yousef, the youngest and most limber of us? In the back, without a real seat, acting as a barrier in case our cases tumbled down.
Carsick? Yes. Seat belts? Surely you jest. Choking on dust? Of course. But we’re charging into adventure, trying to hold a 200 mil steady as we get thrown around plenty. It’s an image stabilized lens and we’re shooting at 1/2000, but holding a composition is another thing.
We picnic near Ngorongoro Crater, where we’ll film on the way back. No prepackaged food for us! Dennis and Richard produce ultra fresh fruit and vegetables, peeling and cutting them on the spot.
Finally, we’re at the Serengeti, the endless plain where animals are free and humans confined to their vehicles. Of course our big gear is packed for protection from the merciless roads. But we can hand hold the 1D with our 70-200 and monster 500mm?
And now we get our first glimpse of what we came here for. Stunningly beautiful Thomson’s Gazelles and larger Grant’s Gazelles playing together; Taper-nosed spotted Hyenas; Male lions lounging on their backs as cubs and their mom play and scratch on a felled Umbrella Acacia; Herds of Zebra; Hippos, or at least their eyes and ears protruding from what seemed to be large grey rocks; Also, Impalas, Topi and Hartebeests.
All of this animal expertise comes of course from Dennis and Richard, who can spot and identify animals at absurd distances while negotiating the road. We shoot stills from the road of course, but they’re not really very dramatic. We realize that even with our precious off-road permissions and superb lenses, this is not going to be easy.
Our National Geographic and African Environments advisers had warned us that this would take great patience, and not to be discouraged. Already, we see that it will require all the creativity and character we can muster.
Soon, Richard’s amazing eye spots an elephant! We look and look and finally spot a tiny patch of grey obscured by foliage well to our right. Up comes the 500mm, and as Richard maneuvers to find the behemoth between trees, we wait and wait for the great beast to show us more than tail. Finally, we are rewarded with profiles, trunks raised and ears flapping, of three magnificent elephants. There’s a lot to say for this patience stuff!
Our Camp is 3 minutes past the elephants! It is set beautifully among Umbrella Acacia trees in the midst of territory inhabited by lions and elephants. It was set up specifically for us a few days before. Each of us have a 2 room tent w/ solar powered low energy LCD lighting and a real toilet. We are sealed by ground covers and zippered flap,s and there is a hot water sack shower hung just high enough so we can turn the valve on tiptoes. Water and power are priceless.
We have everything we need and absolutely nothing more. It feels so good to live so harmoniously with the planet.
It is almost dark and a hot shower, glass of wine, sumptuous dinner, campfire and star-filled black velvet sky complete our day. That night, we hear lions clearly enjoying their kill and an elephant comes with 5 feet of our tents before deciding to ravage a tree instead.
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