Photographing Hippos in the Cubango River, Namibia.
Located in the very North East of Namibia, lies the Cubango River that flows from Angola down into the famous Okavango Delta. This wonderful and must visit river is a fantastic location where we bring our photography guests to commence in some untamed Hippo wildlife photography. This part of Namibia is where the rivers come alive for your lens. Photographic shoots take place with aggravated hippo’s that fight with one another and display their teeth to the camera, allowing our guests to capture some remarkable action shots.
During a boating excursion onto this fantastic river, our group headed against the current and to the location where the hippos dominate the area. The group slowly moved towards the pod of hippopotamus and stayed in the area. As the Hippo’s occasionally opened their mouths to warn off others, our leading photographer Mark Fernley was wanting his guests to obtain a side on shot to express the unusual design of this animals facial structure in the frame. The boat moved around the pod, so the lighting was on the water, behind this large male Hippo. With 500mm and 400mm lenses (F4 and F4.5) at their full potential, the group was able to get a perfect shot of the individual containing a highly soft background as the head thrashed around in the water showing the group a fascinating display. The head however was shadowed so post processing had to be involved on their return back at camp. The image below, to the right was taken by our wildlife photography leader Mark Fernley, capturing the remarkable dental structure of this stunning male.
Down river, we frequent visit a spot that offers great viewing of a large pod of hippo’s that swim close to the shore bringing our guests great photographic opportunities. As the groups sit in camp on the edge of the river in the late evenings, the sun set provides perfect lighting that brings in a strong and dramatic contrast on the Hippo’s. As they occasionally open their mouths, the groups are able to obtain strong images that show off their magnificent dental structure. With telephoto's in hand, we are able to capture some rather contrasted and sharp images of large male Hippos that best show off their teeth to the other surrounding males. The group was able to get the mouth fully in focus to reveal its unique design in their photograph. As there was low light, the group had to jump the Iso up to roughly ISO1000 and the shutter speed of 800. A small amount of Lightroom back at the lodge de-graining the image and a background masking to dramatize the image was in order to make the mouth the main focus.
These hippo outings set in the Northern Eastern part of Namibia truly bring this camping photo safari to life. Each and every guest have enjoyed these stunning animals and the images taken during the boating outings on this remarkable river.
Images By Wildlife Photographer Mark A Fernley