WILD NAMIBIA IN BLACK AND WHITE
Text and Photographs by Tarry Butcher
Text and Photographs by Tarry Butcher
A happy snappy borrowed from my parents got me interested in photography from a young age, but it was obviously limited in what I expected from a camera. I bought my first proper camera when I was working on the Orange River as a river guide. Being out on the water every day I saw the most amazing birds, wildlife and scenery and I needed a camera that could capture these magical moments perfectly. Since then I have worked as a tour guide in South Africa on a private game reserve, before returning to Namibia as a national guide, providing me with the opportunities to travel extensively around the country to areas which are otherwise very difficult to get to. I had my camera by my side the entire time on my amazing adventures, which has helped in continuously improving on my photography.
I focus mainly on wildlife and bird photography. I am especially passionate about birds, but also enjoy the special experiences I had with local Namibians and Tanzanians. Cultural photography can be tricky and many people can be quite shy photography subjects. However, if you take your time to engage with your subject, they later relax and you can be assured the most fantastic, genuine images. I delight in spending hours watching animal behavior or waiting for a bird to sit at that perfect angle.
More recently I have moved into black and white photography, focusing on the images conveying real emotions and highlighting textures.
I have been very fortunate with my sightings. I have witnessed a number of kills from a number of different predators, travelled through fantastic Namibian scenery, but what really stands out for me are sightings of the rare and endangered animals. I was fortunate enough to come across a young pangolin whilst on a drive in the Erongo Mountains. This little pangolin was so relaxed with us around that he didn’t curl up, but rather continued on his foraging journey. I was able to follow him for about an hour, shooting along the way. Something I doubt I will ever be able to do again.
What keeps me going as a photographer is always looking for a new perspective, the next amazing story, and most importantly showcasing this amazing country.
My biggest piece of advice to someone who is interested in photography is know your gear. I have witnessed it many times when people are waiting for hours for something to happen, and when it does they haven’t got the camera on the right settings, or don’t know how to change quickly from one setting to another. Action movements happen so quickly that you need to know how the camera works and how to change what you need to when you need it. Even if you aren’t planning on going out any time soon pick up your camera once a week, walk into the garden and take a couple of shots to keep everything fresh.
Namibia is such a fantastic photographic destination because of the massive diversity in photographic topics. We have some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in the world, beautiful people and superb wildlife opportunities. I would rate Namibia on the top of any list but I might be a bit biased. More specifically my favourite place in the country would be the north west, because of the combination of fantastic landscapes and special wildlife. Seeing a desert adapted elephant walking over sand dunes or over open gravel plains is only possible here.
One thing I tell my guests, which has always worked when they ask me what to take for the day’s excursion is “Bring your entire bag, because you WILL need the one thing you leave behind”. I always have my telephoto 100-400 and a wide angle with me. In this country cleaning equipment is so important, dust is a real killer.
My top 3 tips for capturing the best Namibia has to offer is: 1. Take photos during winter. There will be crystal clear skies in striking deep blue and there’s better wildlife viewing. 2. Take your time. Don’t rush through the country and make use of the morning and afternoon light. 3. Capture the story, every picture should tell a story.