On Safari in the Masai Mara
with Hermis Haridas

Masai Mara is a paradise for wildlife lovers, which hosts over 95 species of mammals and over 570-recorded species of birds. Masai Mara National Reserve stretches 1,510 sq km. The land not only protect habitats for resident species, but also the wildebeest and zebras that migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the greener pastures of the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya during July through to October.

With so many prey animals like zebras, impalas, topis, buffalos, giraffes, warthogs and other grazing herbivores, Masai Mara is a veritable bonanza for large predators such as lions, cheetahs, leopards, crocodiles and other powerful hunters. Hence, Mara is always a happening place for any wildlife photographer.

The important thing to be taken care by a photographer who visits Mara is the service provider. If you fail to find the best team, your trip is going to be just another regular safari trip. But if you are in the best hands, then you can make magical frames from Mara. That’s what I have experienced from my trips to Masai Mara so far. For me, Masai Mara is my second home. Whenever I get the time, I pack my bag and book my flight to Nairobi.

It was my 16th trip to Masai Mara in the month of December 2017 and the first ever trip with my Sony equipment. I was carrying Sony A9, Sony A7R3, Sony RX10 IV, SEL100400GM, SEL70200GM and SEL1635GM. I was so happy to travel light- no more carrying heavy equipment! It was, overall, a different experience. I was so excited and a little nervous as I know I have to handle completely different gears.

The challenge was to create some interesting frames. Masai Mara has been explored by many photographers who have captured beautiful frames. I wanted to experiment by doing something different. So I did some low level photography by approaching near the animal, by keeping a safe distance, using Sony A7R3 and 16-35mm lens. The silent shutter function in the A7R3 helped me get some beautiful pictures without disturbing the animal.

I was experimenting some low light photography using high ISO in my Sony A9 along with Sony 100-400mm GM lens. This combination was simply superb. I just loved the fast focusing and the high fps. The quality of the pictures taken even after the sunset was wonderful. The 20 fps feature and accurate focus tracking is so good, I can now confidently press the shutter, and don’t have to think of losing any frames while some action is happening in the field.

Experimenting in the low light with slow shutter to get the streak effect of the water. This image was taken almost after the sunset on a cloudy rainy day.
Spec: Sony A9, 70-200mm, @167mm, F/3.5, 1/200 sec, ISO 400

I was looking out for a big cat to shoot with the last super moon of 2017 and ended up with shooting some waterbucks. Again, it was low light as the sun had already set.
Spec: Sony A9, 100-400mm, @400mm, F/6.3, 1/100 sec, ISO 640

Capturing the action and testing the focus tracking.
Spec: Sony A9, 100-400mm, @400mm, F/5.6, 1/1600 sec, ISO 200

An early morning shot, capturing the action and testing the focus tracking.
Spec: Sony A9, 100-400mm, @250mm, F/6.3, 1/2500 sec, ISO 1250

A mid noon shot to test the high dynamic range of Sony A9.
Spec: Sony A9, 100-400mm, @170mm, F/8.0, 1/8000 sec, ISO 800

Experimenting with backlight during one of the early morning photography.
Spec: Sony A9, 100-400mm, @400mm, F/6.3, 1/400 sec, ISO 640

Experimenting with backlight during one of the early morning photography.
Spec: Sony A9, 100-400mm, @400mm, F/6.3, 1/3200 sec, ISO 640

A rare moment of Cheetah climbing on a tree. The depth of the tree came out well.
Spec: Sony A9, 100-400mm, @400mm, F/6.3, 1/1600 sec, ISO 640

A male lion during the sunrise poses by himself.
Spec: Sony A9, 100-400mm, @400mm, F/5.6, 1/320 sec, ISO 500

This picture was taken around 12pm while I was testing the dynamic range. The light was so harsh, but I still managed to get the exact color, highlight and shadows.
Spec: Sony A9, 100-400mm, @250mm, F/5.6, 1/640 sec, ISO 500

Another late evening shot of a lion feasting on a buffalo.
Spec: Sony A9, 100-400mm, @380mm, F/5.6, 1/250 sec, ISO 1250

Cheetah walking in the horizon on a cloudy night. A night photography experiment. Spec: Sony A9, 70-200mm, @200mm, F/2.8, 1/40 sec, ISO 2500

An early morning backlight shot.
Spec: Sony A9, 100-400mm, @400mm, F/9.0, 1/640 sec, ISO 250

A Cheetah stalking its prey photographed on a cloudy evening.
Spec: Sony A7R3, 16-35mm, @35mm, F/4.5, 1/1250 sec, ISO 400

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