Mirrorless on the Masai Mara - The Great Migration

Mirrorless on the Mara – The great migration

10 days on safari with the wild-eye team


Landing on the grass strip runway Mara Serena situated high on the plateau of the Mara Triangle, was the culmination of a 40 year dream, and the start of 30 days in East Africa for my wife Helen and I

40 years ago we had travelled by ship from New Zealand to Capetown on our big OE but because of politics of the time we were denied visas to travel overland through Africa to Europe. The one day we had in  Capetown  we hired a car and toured the beautiful Cape Province area before returning to our ship and continuing the rest of the journey to Genoa Italy , vowing to one day return to the Africa continent. Life intervened and 40 years later the day had now arrived.


Meeting the ground crew


After landing on the grass runway on the Masai triangle we were introduced to our drivers and then set out on the 40 minute drive to our campsite on the Mara River our home for the next 10 days

 Mara River


Our first siting of the Mara River, our base for the next 10 days, A herd of wildebeest were building on the far side, would we see a crossing on the first day? Alas the herd moved on but we were not to wait for long.

Elephant on the banks of the Mara - Just outside camp


Our first elephant siting on the river just around the bend from our camp. Of course for us new to Africa everything was a first siting, it was around the 3rd day before this initial excitement died down and we could start to focus on things like animal behaviour, light and composition in the photograph

Storm clouds over the vast rolling plains of the Mara Conservancy


 The evening light was spectacular so had to be true to my landscape roots. Now I just have to get some animals in my landscape shots.

Herd milling at the top of the river bank


Day 2 and the wildebeest herd we saw yesterday had returned and continued to build , our guides were confident we would see a big crossing

The drop

The crossing was  every bit as dramatic as we had hoped.

The Crossing 

Only on the Mara

Giraffe Yes landscape with wildlife my two styles of photography are starting to come together


Our camp was surrounded by lion prides or so it seemed, within minutes on our early morning drive we would come across one of the many local lion prides. As they were active at this time we spent many hours with them and witnessed the full range of behaviour, resting, hunting, mating, killing, eating, playing, they were a real highlight of our trip.

We came across this male lion walking with his brother through one of the many drainage ditches, a common place to find lions we were to discover. Initially I thought he was brushing the flies off but they mark their territory by rubbing their faces on the bushes.

The kill

 The kill , not what we expected , we had been thought it was the females that do ost the hunting , here a male takes down a wildebeest on his own, his coalition male partner just stood and watched him until he had subdued the wildebeest and then joined for the meal

The other male joins in the feed.


Not the prettiest birds but a critical part of the food chain, as newbies it amazed us how that in a couple of days a fresh kill, could be reduced to skin and bone.

we were to see many lions sleeping but not always in such a scenic spot as these three.

Wildebeest and Zebra enjoy the fresh growth the rains bring and are often seen grazing together

 We started to explore further from our camp as the days progressed , the mara triangle really isi a beautiful part of Kenya, and getting the odd day of rain and soft light suited me down to the ground.

Zebra, a chance to get creative in composition and post processing

 Photo bombing zebra, whilst trying to get a shot of a herd of buffalo, one of the harder animals to photograph well in my opinion. (buffalo not zebra)

Cheetahs are solo mums and have their handful with up to 5 cubs

We had to travel a reasonable distance to get a shot of our first cheetah mum but wow it was worth it.

Cheetah Shake

Cheetah shake, we spent 4 hours in the rain with this cheetah and loved every minute of it. We found the Wild-Eye team will wait as long as it takes for us to get the shot we want, giving all the guidance but never over specifying the how, always giving you the creative licence to get the shot your way.


Elephants herds are plentiful  and endlessly fascinating but again patience is required to get an interesting composition.

 We had a standing joke that the animals would turn away and leave you with only a butt shot, in this case I think it makes the shot.

 “Once you have banked some shots then you can start to experiment” Great advise Gerry

 At last a buffalo shot I am reasonably happy with although it took a bit of post processing to get the effect I was after.

 Vulture flying. This shot is dedicated to a fellow traveller and great bird photographer who shared the 10 days with us , I had never been really interested in photographing birds but Roberto Anil’s love of them and his expertise rubbed off on us and so Roberto this is for you.

  Lioness hunting unsuccessfully on this occassion the grazing herds didn't quite come close enough to mount the attack

Last night at camp 


We had hoped whilst on the Mara to meet some of the local Masai people, it was a special surprise to find that we would have them as part of our ground crew while we were there. Their pride of their culture and the manner in which they went out of their way to make us feel at home was a very special highlight of the trip

Watching the moon rise from our camsiite on the banks of the Mara River


  A trip and an opportunity of a live time, so many highlights, the Mara is even more magical than everybody says it is,  to  be able to send 10 days immersed in it , never leaving the reserve, returning every night to its life blood the Mara river, makes it in a way a spiritual journey , to be alongside fellow travellers and professional photographic guides ,  enriching  every aspect of the trip, makes this far more than a photographic exploration , it is a transformational journey.

If you have the chance, try it yourself, you will not be disappointed.





Gift from a fellow Artist

I am a member of the online photography learning group The Arcanum  http://www.thearcanum.com/ which takes the old master apprentice model of learning and teams it with all the latest online tools to create a new old style of education. I belong to a cohort of 20 students under the tutelage and mentorship of our Master Glenn Guy.  http://travelphotographyguru.com/

We get set a range of assignments, some compulsory, some voluntary that we can all do at our own pace. There are twenty compulsory assignments to qualify and four formal one on one critique sessions with our master. As we near the end of our journey we are tasked to prepare a portfolio and then host it on a website with a blog. 

I was not relishing the website bit as I have studiously avoided website creation all my life and when I made a statement about my struggle in the cohort a fellow student set about helping me by listening to what I wanted to achieve and then went away and created a basic site for me to input into, all without me knowing.

When the sight was unveiled to me it was one of those moments in my artistic life where i was just  dumbfounded by the support and kindness of a fellow student  http://www.vesaloikas.com/ . 

Vesa Loikas your a huge talent and a man of unbounding generosity. I thank you


Vesa Loikas a great artist and a beautiful friend

Vesa Loikas a great artist and a beautiful friend

This is the original response to Guy Parke's post about not having a website

[originally sent by Vesa Loikas to Guy Parkes via G+ post on May 31st, 2015]

I took your message post very seriously (as you can see in the photo). Your cries were heard across the globe ... so here's your Kleenex: wetfeet.squarespace.com (this site)

Inspired by Jussi Lyons  and your photo of him in his Wanaka tree shot - I thought that there's nothing better for you to ease your pain than getting your feet wet, really wet. So I spent a few hours preparing a place for you to explore. This doesn't need to be your final site, I am not suggesting that. But it's technically possible if you so wish and I transfer the ownership to you if you wanna keep the site alive. Otherwise it will expire in 12 days or so. I added your name and email as an administrator of the site, you can take full control and remove me from there - or just poke around and try things. Anyway, the site is up and running. But because it's a trial site, people just looking at it need to type in a verify code - however anybody can look at it, so it's perfect for viewing it in your big screen TV or your small screen mobile phone to see how it adjusts (or doesn't adjust).

Glenn Guy coined the term One Byte At A Time - that's a perfect analogy for a personal website. You start with something and slowly chisel away to make it yours, like a master sculptor with a big piece of rock. 

I spent about half an hour to set up this site logistically (register, pick the initial template 'Momentum', verify my email etc.). Then I spent about 2 hours (and two shots of Scotch on Saturday night) working on it and creating the skeleton structure with some blog posts and galleries to illustrate the potential. Today I finessed it a bit further, and now I hand you the keys (info at the end of this post).

Couple pointers - you need as good and fast of a connection as you can get. Mine is 4G at home (with 50 down and 25 up) and this works great. If you have a slow internet speed, editing the site is not as much fun. It's doable, but because editing takes place 'live', it needs fast data connection. The design needs to be tweaked on a desktop. Certain things can be done with a tablet (and you can add blog posts via mobile app), but large desktop is best for tweaking and working on it.

Because it's a trial site, it seems to be slightly slower than a paid site (like mine www.vesaloikas.com ) However, after the site is setup, it's fluid even with slower connections. Of course large images take their time, but that will be the case in any platform. Generally they've done a good job trying to exhibit large scale photos with enough resolution to showcase them well. 

I set up a couple of galleries, one bio page, a blog and a couple other pages. Just dive in and see if you can redo any of them to your liking. Please feel free to ask a ton of questions if you wanna dive further into Squarespace. I've been using their stuff for a few years, and I think they are the price-performance-design leaders today (and I create Wordpress sites for my clients charging hourly ... oops). Anyway, just my humble opinion. And when it comes to mobile, this site spits out I believe 5 images so that they are always using the one that fits the screen. This site can also become a full fledged commercial site with online payments if needed. You can also password protect pages to enable access only to certain people which is sometimes very useful. And many other things, sky is the limit.

All the magic starts from the upper left corner. There you find all the categories where you can change and edit the site. Changing the actual pages that are already made takes place almost real time. For example, hit PAGES, select one of the pages and hover over the actual page and hit EDIT. This might sound mysterious, but after spending some time with it, the design environment becomes fairly straight forward. BUT, I understand that certain way of thinking just doesn't work the same for everybody. For example editing a WORD document is a pain most of the time for me, but working on Adobe INDESIGN I feel right at home. Anyway, take a dip and see if this is a match made in heaven, you and squarespace happily working on the design of your site.

Then there are always peculiarities, for example 'Gallery style' (slideshow) can be changed in >DESIGN>STYLE options,and not by clicking the gallery itself. Changing images usually require a right click of the mouse and so on. There are options for full bleed, 1:1 etc., autoplay etc. Just try them out. Not all templates have these. The template used here is called Momentum template. I am actually using a different one and they have slightly different controls. However, you can change templates on the fly, which is fun. Just be prepared to go through every page of your site again when you do that. I've done it a couple of times, and then spent two days making it really work. It's like moving, useful but not always fun (but you get rid off the crap that has piled into the corners of your house).

There are a TON of options - but sometimes templates don't let you do things that you want. then you need custom code. Something I haven't ventured into. I believe that at this point it is better to do something close to what you want, and put the time into your photography and content (e.g blog posts) instead of web design. But anything is possible with custom code and there are people specializing on Squarespace custom sites that you can hire.

There are numerous well crafted short videos about the basics f these site. They can be found here. http://help.squarespace.com/video-index/ Just remember, each template has their own way of doing things sometimes.

Here are the keys to your sandbox, enjoy!


If anyone else in the cohort needs a jump start, shoot me a message and I will help to get you started. I am not affiliated in any way with Squarespace, nor do I get any benefit from this, so this is very much just my personal gesture towards you to get your feet wet and on the way to a personal website goodness.

Gallery within a blog post sample

You can embed a gallery within a blogpost as in this sample. I this case the gallery itself is not found on the menu, only within this blogpost.