The photo shoot is over and unfortunately, I no longer have my excuse for going out on walks and game drives every day. It ended well when we went in search of good photos of pristine sand in the the dry riverbed. Jo quickly found the scene she wanted but kumbe, the lions had beaten us to it. 14 Lions from our main sand rivers pride were laying about in the sand not far from a baby elephant on which they spent the morning gorging themselves. There was nothing left for us to do but spend an hour with the lions, how tiresome that was!, and then continue on in search of a different scene to photograph.
For Richard and myself, the photo shoot was a lesson in, shall we say, perceptions of reality. A few days ago, we peacefully watched the sun setting from Lizzie’s hill with Mike and Carol, the managers at Sand Rivers Selous, while Jo took pictures in the background. All of a sudden, she stood up straight and said “this isn’t working. It’s all too real. These colors are just too realistic, I don’t do realistic.” Apparently the image of friends chatting in the foreground, wine glasses in hand, with a gorgeous sunset in the background was just too much. Eventually, the sun dipped below a cloud and cast more illumination on the scene, so Jo crouched back down and her lens started clicking away like mad, but the whole experience is causing me considerable concern about the world I live in and whether, perhaps, it is just a bit too surreal.
Shortly before that, we paused the vehicle for Jo to take pictures of a small herd of wildebeest. Our jaws dropped when she asked if one of us could be so kind as to remove the white piece of rubbish from in front of the herd. That white piece of rubbish was in fact a beautiful cattle egret whose pure white feathers reflected back the harsh afternoon sun.
Another shoe dropped that night when Richard and I started excitedly talking about our plans for the next couple of days. We couldn’t wait to go fly camping on Lake Tagalala and then turn around, head upriver by boat, and spend the next evening on the banks of the Rufiji at a place called Kogota. Jo really dampened our spirits when she jumped in to say it didn’t make sense to do two fly camps because, obviously, “once you take the picture you can’t really tell if it’s a lake or a river. And it doesn’t really matter cause it’s more about the feeling.” For Richard and me, it’s all about the places, the animals, the little details and subjects of the drama that is the Selous ecosystem. For us, the only feelings are the surge of adrenaline as you make the final approach to a herd of elephants from behind a bush, or catch the brilliant red underside of a Purple-crested Turaco’s wing out of the corner of your eye. For the Wordsworthian Jo, a sunset is just a sunset, but it’s so much more when you can capture the pleasure, the surge of powerful emotions it invokes in, say, a group of safari managers who chase these moments across a continent.