Over the past six weeks, I have posted plenty of blog posts from Kenya. I’ve posted blogs about Tsavo East’s blue trees, our experiences visiting elephant conservation efforts, the kills we saw, our time in Vipingo and my thoughts on the interaction between humans and animals around the world. My final post is going to be a roundup of my best photos from Kenya, because if there’s one thing I was most excited about, it was the photographic opportunities. For any aspiring photographer, a chance to photograph animals like this in their natural habitats has to be the dream, right? It certainly was for me. I hope you enjoy a selection of wildlife photos from two weeks in Kenya, including Tsavo East, a mobile camp, the Maasai Mara and the coast in Vipingo.
I’d been trying to get a close-up of a lion’s face all trip. Even with the zoom lens and the extender, we often weren’t close enough to get a portrait that would truly fill the frame. This was the best I got, of a beautiful little lion cub in Tsavo East. The light was often quite low when we were around these baby lions (one evening and the following morning), which gives the photos soft edges and a gentle haze. I would prefer the pictures to be sharper, but in the absence of that, I do think the softness gives the images a dreamy quality.
I love these two. I also love the contrast between them. I like that the lion is looking directly at the camera in both of them, but looks dangerous and severe in the first one and gentle and tentative in the second. The power of an expression.
Ah, I feel this photo is on the cusp of being really great. All these movements were happening so fast and I had to grab what I could get. I wish it was better framed, and sharper. But I do love how much focus this cub is showing, and how much it’s clearly trying to be an adult. Powerful strides in a tiny package. You can tell that this little cat will grow up to tear apart other animals one day.
Watching baby animals feed is always a special moment. I have a lot of photos of this moment, but I like this one because the cubs are looking right at us, which makes me feel more connected to them.
The lefthand photo is just funny. A kid being a kid. These baby lions were so playful and inquisitive, so both of these pictures were taken right by our car, as the two little lions padded breathtakingly close by. The righthand photo was taken before I lost the dawn/dusk light (can’t remember which), and I think you can tell that the light was different. I love the way the cub is bathed in gold, and how its eyes look almost blue. In all of these photos, I love the thick white stripes that line the baby lions’ eyes. I think they’re so striking.
Many of my favourite photos seem to capture behaviour. This lion is so focused, and on the prowl. A baby learning to hunt. I like how the smudge of a plant in the foreground makes the cub seem more covert.
Okay, this lion was probably the most photogenic animal I saw all trip. Look at her! These feel like model portraits.
Two sisters, looking after each other. These two lionesses were alone on a vast plain, gearing up the energy to hunt. I like how they’re mirroring each other somewhat and how well they blend into the background.
This might be the best baby lion picture. That light! That face! That curious, serious expression! I love it.
I’ve only included a few from the kills, because frankly I think most of them weren’t that good. But there’s something about this one that I think is powerful; the gaping cavern, the adult lion’s blood spattered face, the cubs burrowing in for dinner, the contrasting patterns, the wisps of grass. I feel like the empty zebra is eerie, a familiar sight not quite right.
From an animal behaviour perspective, I love this one. I love that the mother literally has her head in a zebra while her cub playfully eyes her tail. Death and new life collide.
I wish the tones were better in this one! I don’t love the heavy green tint, nor the lack of clarity (I shot this from many metres away). But the picture itself is hard to beat. It’s so chilling. Some minutes later, this lion ate this wildebeest. Foreshadowing.
I like this one for similar reasons, but I also like line that the three animals form. It’s a nice little element of the composition that was a good catch.
Okay, the next few pictures show two cubs, siblings, playing together. I love the drama in micro. The pain and the fighting look so dramatic and real, but of course, it’s all a game. They are having so much fun together. There’s a deeper meaning here somewhere.
I love this series for much the same reasons, along with the golden light. Look at these two!
So. gorgeous. This pose is so regal. I love the gold light crowning the cub’s ears.
While this is another one I like for its playfulness, I also like it for its tenderness too. There’s something so gentle about the way the paw is touching the other.
Ending with a cuddle. There’s so much love between these two, and this pictures makes it clear how connected they are to each other.
How amazing are these baby elephants? Some of them needed a ranger’s help to drink, but others had figured out how to hold the bottles themselves. I like how the elephant is making eye contact with the camera and how you can see another feed happening in the corner.
What a cutie. Elephant trunks are so versatile and I feel like this is a view you don’t get very often. This was the end of a feed, with the baby soaking up the last of the milk.
I love how well this little one fits in the frame. The composition of the ears and the trunk is perfect.
This photo has so much personality! I love the elephant’s cheeky expression and waving trunk (and it was waving at us!). My one wish is that I would have got both tiny tusks into frame, I don’t like that one of them spills over.
I love this photo. I think it’s so atmospheric. You can feel how powerful this giant is, watching from afar.
These are two of my absolute favourites. I think that the left-hand picture really captures the bond between ranger and elephant, and that the composition is great. The right-hand picture is just awesome; these are grey elephants (like all elephants are) but they were so covered in mud that they appeared black or streaked with different colours. I love the blue/black tones of this photo.
There’s something about the composition of this picture that really tickles me. I like how the two elephants are reflected on the axis of the tree.
The painted elephants! I was obsessed with how these huge, wild elephants had painted themselves red, black and orange. Again, I wish the very end of the tusks weren’t obscured by the branch, but broadly I like how the trees give a sense of the elephant being somewhat hidden.
I love the texture of this photo. I feel like you can see how leathery elephant skin is. I also love the colour gradation, with the ear moving from dark brown to a much lighter shade toward the top of the image. The final detail is the water dripping the bottom left corner, which I think makes it.
Best buds. As with the lion pictures, some of the most special things we saw were how the animals lived and played together. These two young males spent much of the morning playfighting, with a few sweet nose bumps and nuzzles.
This is an elephant hug. I CAN’T.
I swear this is elephant has (proportionally) bigger ears than the others! I also love the coy look on its face, and the way it’s slightly turned toward me.
I don’t love how the colours are a bit washed out in this photo (I tried to salvage it, but to no avail). However, the scene itself is so neat, with the three elephants mirroring one another.
I’m on the fence about this one. The colours are little muted, which I don’t love, but I do love how each elephant is covered in a different, natural pattern. Given that most elephants are plain grey, it’s rare to see such a colourful, vibrant herd.
Much like the other milk bottle photos, I think this picture has a lot of personality. Given that most of the elephants were fed by the rangers, the ones who insisted on feeding themselves were agreed to be the most stubborn and independent. Elephants are such capable animals; how cool to get to see their brains and trunks at work!
The left-hand photo here is just funny. Most of the others let their trunks flop around, but this little one insisted on keeping it straight in the air. There’s something about the right-hand photo that looks… serene, almost. It’s hard to know best to photograph elephants, because they are so big, their trunks so long and their ears so wide. I like the way this picture frames the elephant, a different angle to the one I tended to use.
I like the angle of this one. This elephant’s face and trunk look so compact; there’s something very satisfying about the closed loop.
I like this photo because you can see an elephant herd interacting with human structures (the pipeline). In periods of drought, the elephants drink from leaks in the pipe.
Again, this one is just funny. Look at that cocked leg!
I love this picture. I love the morning light, and how it shines on the elephants’ backs, I love the cloud on the hill, I love that you can see the sheer volume of elephants clustered by the rocks. I also love how similar the colours of the elephants and the rocks are, making the transition between the two seamless.
My one good sunrise photo. In order to emphasise the sunrise, the bottom half of the picture has to be almost totally dark. But if that happens, you can’t see the elephants, which are what actually makes this photo great. I think this is a good compromise! I like how hazy it looks.
I like the chaos of this picture; it’s a more abstract way of looking at nature. You have multiple elephants, in multiple colours, and a lot of depth and layers.
The mud splash is obviously the best thing about this photo – to cool down, elephants will fling wet mud over their backs, and it results in great patterns and noises.
Two close-ups. I especially like the right-hand picture, as the I like where the tusk ends in the bottom corner; I think it gives the image a nice flow.
Two of this sweet baby. Elephants herds are amazing at protecting the infants, effortlessly encircling the little one as soon as humans, big cats or other surprises appear. I like how bashful the baby elephant is in the top photo, like a toddler peeking out from behind its mother’s legs.
The blue trees
The blue trees blew my mind. My favourite blue tree pictures are the ones that are particularly contrasted with the red dust, reaching out to the corners of the frame or bathed in dappled light.
There’s something so dynamic about this starfish arm. I have lots of full starfish photos, but I love this image of a starfish arm curving its way around the seafloor.
I mean, I obviously love this picture because these starfish are amazing. They are so beautiful. But I like this photo especially, because of the light patterns and the way that the seaweed is waving over the starfish.
It’s such a shame that my camera had fogged up by this point, meaning that I lost a lot of clarity. I still think it’s worthy of the list, however, for the symmetry of these fish.
This is probably my favourite photo from the whole trip. I find it mesmerising. I can’t believe the camera managed to pick up the iridescence of the anemone, and I’m so impressed by the clarity of the clownfish’s eye. I can’t express to you how proud I am of this photograph.
This photo is so clear. It’s easy to lose clarity and focus underwater, so I love how this turned out. I also love the way the sun’s rays dapple onto the fish, and the dark silhouettes in the background.
The combination of waves and spray and the angular lines of the dolphin is so pleasing. The curve of the dolphin’s back picking up the light is just perfect.
How do creatures like this exist?! I promise that these starfish were as vibrant and bold as they look in these photos.
Most anemones were populated by a combination of clownfish and these little black and white fish. I think this photo gives a good idea of the kind of scenes we saw around the seafloor.
Such a good find! I was swimming around when I saw this little guy popping out of the coral, observing, waiting.
This photo has a special view into a secret fish space. The bright coral makes it clear that we are peeking into the fish’s little cave. I like the iridescent blue dots on the boxfish, and how the yellow of the fish and the yellow of the coral match.
I like the perspective this photo has on the fish burrowed into its anemone. I think the slight lack of clarity really works, and adds to the effect.
I am so amazed that I could get this shot, with the iridescent patterns of the anemones showing up so well through my lens. All the anemones had various iridescent lines and swirls, which flickered as we swam between them, the sea creatures catching the light in different ways.
I love how the fish looks suspended in the air (uh, water). The blurriness of the background makes this fun little fish stand out.
Again, amazing starfish, light patterns, waving seaweed. I think this photo looks especially dynamic, with the seaweed tendrils sweeping the same way the starfish is pointing. Also the contrast of the red and green makes for a great image.
I absolutely love this picture, though I can’t put my finger on why. I think the composition is subtly excellent, with the out-of-focus branch lending a sense of privacy to the animals, and the similar colour palette making it feel like the zebras unfold from the white branches in the foreground. I don’t know. All I know is that zebras are insanely photogenic and that this photo makes me smile.
I love the colours in this picture. Lots of my Tsavo photos have heavy red/yellow tones, so I think the white and green in this picture is refreshing.
I love the composition of this one. The clean lines of the landscape contrasted with the clean lines of the animals, and the green and blues of the backdrop contrasted with the monochrome of the zebras.
As above, but with movement.
I feel much the same about this one as the first zebra photo, i.e. that I like the colours and how the branches make the zebras feel wilder and more private. This one has the added benefit of red and blue sections, making it even more vibrant.
So lively! The tail flick makes it. Usually, it would bother me that the zebra’s feet are cut out, but I think it works in this picture,
Zebras have amazing thighs and rumps and I love how the light picks up the back of the zebra. I also like how centrally framed this zebra is.
Zebras rest their heads on each other when they’re tired! What sweethearts. Animal communities are incredible. The line of zebras looks very clean and, as always, the contrast of the black and white with the background is so striking.
This one is an unexpected favourite. I love how sharp this zebra’s stripes are. Lots of the others are obscured by mud, dust or distance, whereas this picture is crisp as anything. I love it.
I don’t have a lot of giraffe photos, but these are two that stood out to me. I like the first photo for its scale, the blue haze at the top and the way the giraffe stands out so sharply against the background. I like the bottom one for the way the giraffe unfurls from the bottom righthand corner.
I love how the detail of the croc stands out against the river. The details are amazingly sharp. There’s also something about how the crocodile continues beyond each side of the frame that works for me.
I like this photo because of the contrast between the yellow cheetah and the red dust. I also like how the elegant cheetah fills the frame.
Most animals are terrifying well camouflaged with their environment, as evolution has encouraged. I like this shot that captures the cheetah merging with the backdrop. This is why it’s always such a privilege to see any animal in the wild, especially in the depths of Tsavo East National Park, where there are so few people and comparatively fewer animals.
This is the only sunset picture I took that I like – but I love it. I think the silhouettes work so well, especially the buffalo’s horns above the sunburst. What a great scene!
I think I took around eight thousand photos in the two weeks we were in Kenya, so I have tried to pare it down as much as possible. We saw lots of other animals too, including leopards, various antelopes, birds, insects and lizards, but I didn’t take any photos of those that I thought were good enough for the list! I had the most special time in Kenya and I’m so pleased with the photos I brought home.
Let me know which is your favourite in the comments! Do you think these are any good? Do you have any tips for me?