Photography is key to conveying the beauty of a destination or a lodge, which is why a few members of our team jumped at the opportunity to visit Liwonde National Park and hone their photography skills with wildlife photographer, Rob Bruyns.
Find out what Chloe and Tapiwa learnt below…
As a woman of endless words, it may come as a shock that my preferred choice of expression is the humble photograph. Having been given my first proper camera by my dad at 19, it soon became an easy way to show people what I had been up to on my adventures without boring them to death with endless stories.
The part-time hobby became a passion and with a camera upgrade to celebrate successfully adulting my expression developed. Whilst I am proud to say I showcase my pictures on my own living room wall, I was still a very much ‘hit and miss’ photographer. I often opted for the lazy Auto function when I wasn’t sure what to do. Fast forward a couple of years where everyone with a smartphone is a photographer and an Instagram influencer – I needed help to stand out.
As a ground operator, we regularly get to see not only the beautiful lodges we promote but also the stunning scenery they are in, and of course my favourite, the wildlife they share the area with. As the company expands we wanted to be able to show off the lodges and wildlife to their maximum presenting you with exactly what we saw on our last visit. The aim is to captivate you with our pictures to the point you want to come along too. However, a fuzzy picture of a distant elephant isn’t going to help our cause.
With this in mind, the sales team set off to Liwonde to reacquaint ourselves with one of our favourite parks in one of our much-loved lodges. We were excited to be at Liwonde this time of year, Luscious, green and teaming with hippos. Arriving at Mvuu Lodge we were welcomed like long lost family and quickly settled in. We saw the updated plunge pools in the rooms and had a delicious lunch cooked by their famous chef Wayne. With our belly’s full we sat down with Rob, our skilled photographer who would be teaching us exactly what we needed to know in order to capture that picture-perfect safari photo.
With the recent reintroduction of Cheetah and Lion, we were excited to learn that there would soon be Leopard on the way (they are just waiting for their passports). Liwonde has really developed into a hub of wildlife and is well worth a visit for the wildlife enthusiasts. Combine that with the addition of boat safaris to the normal walks and drives, you have the perfect place to perfect your photography.
Under the expert tuition of Rob, we had a few lessons on what to look for on our cameras and how to set them up in the correct way depending on the type of shot we were looking to take. To get the best out of these lessons we ventured out on some practical drives and boat trips, allowing us to snap away and practice what he had preached. The photos from each of us didn’t take long to start rolling in.
Due to the time of year, we did encounter a few showers which were expected, this, however, allowed us to take various picturesque scenes. As the practical teachings started to settle into our brains, our fingers became rapid at changing our settings to perfectly capture what we wanted to showcase.
Knowing that we were about to go on a photography course for a weekend in the scenic Liwonde National Park, staying at Mvuu Lodge, I decided to do a little research into the basics of photography itself. I was surprised to learn that over 13million DSLR cameras are sold worldwide each year and I would assume not even half of those purchasing such a magnificent piece of equipment even know how to take a picture properly.
With the use of the smartphone, I think over half of the world believe themselves to be ‘professional photographers’. As someone who is a notorious selfie queen myself, I was about to learn that there is a skill in capturing that perfect shot. There is a lot of technique behind it and it was an interesting an eye-opening experience from the other side of the lens. I was lucky enough to use Mike’s Canon 7D camera, which for a long time I had heard John (our accountant/resident photographer) brag about being the ‘best camera ever’…and boy was it good.
Liwonde National Park is rapidly becoming the ‘place to go’ in Malawi. At this time of year, it is so rich and green, with an abundance of wildlife, birdlife and a breathtaking landscape; a photographer’s paradise. It was the perfect spot to be spending the weekend learning this wonderful new skill.
Having been on safari too many times to count and only having a phone to take pictures, it was quite an exciting prospect to have a professional camera at my disposal. I felt like a serious wildlife photographer zooming in and out on the scenery and wildlife around, snapping away at every chance I got. Although to everyone around me I’m sure it was evident that I was an amateur from the goofy way I held the camera, this was soon to be changed with the help of Rob Bruyns, the talented photographer who would be our teacher for the weekend.
It was lucky that Mike had seen Rob’s photography classes in the bush the month prior to our arrival otherwise this would not have been possible, and I still wouldn’t know how to take that all perfect picture. Rob took the time to teach us about how aperture, iso and shutter speed work together and can be operated to give you the perfect light exposure and thus the perfect picture. Just scrolling through Rob’s Instagram and seeing his wonderful pictures, you know he’s definitely onto something.
We also had classroom lessons (yes you heard right, an actual class, I felt like I was back in Standard 2). He taught us why certain pictures are taken the way they are and how to evoke certain emotions out of a picture and tips and tricks on how to take different pictures.
I managed to take a number of pictures myself while there, but I must say this picture below was my favorite. In my mind it took me several tries to get it perfect, however, looking back through the six or so pictures they are all perfect. Each time I used the right light meter Rob taught us about. My other favourite (although taken on my phone)
My other favourite, taken on my phone, capturing a beautiful sunset – the trusting phone doesn’t always disappoint. I am sure you will agree with me safaris are wonderful and it is great that we can capture these experiences in our photos which sure does come a close second to the real thing.
I am so glad I had an opportunity to do this, with practice I am sure I will be quite the wildlife Photographer, just don’t ask for me any wildlife pictures in the dark, that’s something I am still wrapping my head around my light metering in the dark, but I’ll work on it 😊.
Would you like to test your photography skills at Liwonde? Contact us today!
Chloe is our marketing manager, hailing from Scotland she has swopped the snow for the sun and joined us in July 2017. She has a rich background in the industry starting out as a guide in South Africa and then working in sales for the last 6 years. She has travelled Africa extensively from the jungles of the Congo to the plains of the Serengeti and now has found herself immersed in Zambia & Malawi. She is a keen explorer and has a firm love of the bush if you can’t reach her in the office she will most definitely be knee deep in elephant poop looking for her beloved dung beetles!