Wildlife photography is fairly new to me, so when I went to Botswana I was surprised at how close one could get to the animals in the game preserves there. I also discovered that the rules of wildlife photography are similar in Botswana to the rules in Alaska, where I had recently photographed grizzly bears for National Geographic. The main rule is, essentially, keep your body inside the vehicle, and you can shoot away without disturbing the animals, even at very close distances. The vehicle creates a kind of blind, so that movement within the vehicle does not alter the animal’s behavior. But if you were to open a door and stand right next to the car, or even just lean out of the vehicle, then that safe boundary would be broken and the animals would run.
Taking this concept a step further, a group out of the Mashatu Lodge in the Tuli Block area of eastern Botswana has set up a camera blind that is dug into the ground next to a watering hole. The bunker allows photographers to get very close to any animal that comes to the watering hole to drink. I visited the blind before sunrise on my last day in Botswana and was lucky enough to witness a herd of elephants, including a couple of babies, visiting the watering hole. They didn’t stay long, but photographing a whole herd from only two to three meters away was something quite special and only achieved because I photographed from the blind. It was definitely a memorable moment on that assignment.
Photographed with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and a Canon EF24-70mm, f/2.8L II USM lens.
See more photos by Aaron Huey on Instagram at @argonautphoto.