Five questions with Deon de Villiers, Operations Manager for Wilderness Safaris Botswana
Did you ever miss a shot? And do you regret it?
Absolutely; I have missed many shots over the years, and in fact missed one on my most recent trip to the bush. I always regret the “what if” I had got that shot. Recently I was photographing elephants in the mist which was a lovely setting, as it was before sunrise and the feeling was mystical. The photo looked great through the view finder, but one element was missing to give it depth. A flock of white faced ducks came into the frame, flying in perfect sequence only meters above the bull elephant. Due to the time of day and the slight state of darkness my camera battled to focus just at the crucial moment, and the photo with multiple elements disappeared as quickly as it developed.
Which is your best photo and why?
This is difficult to answer as I have so many favourites, and they all have different meanings and memories for me. I am a fan of black-and-white as well as blurred or arty types of photographs, so often my favourites are not conventional wildlife images. I am not crazy about close up images, as I like the story to be more than just that of an animal. The photo below is one of my favourites from this year. The leopard Pula was close to Mombo Camp and ascended the tree only after the sun had set and the light was practically gone. I chose a very short lens to capture the entire scene consisting of leopard and an enchanted forest of leadwood trees. I must add that I was hosting one of my favourite agents at the time, so we shared this memory together. I have since shared the image with her, which gives me great inspiration and purpose that somebody else can also share and enjoy the image of a beautiful Mombo memory.
Please share your favourite Wilderness Safaris life-changing experience
I love the fact that our company shares and practices our conservation thoughts and initiatives. Recently, with the rebuilding process of Mombo, we chose to conserve the roots of the magnificent island trees under which Mombo is built. These trees are mostly giant jackalberry, sausage and leadwood trees, and to damage their roots would severely impact their growth and success. We designed the new camp with a variety of foundation structures to swap and change to fit in with the roots we found underground, and we dug our foundations around the roots. The building contractor said we are the first company he had followed such sustainability practices with, and that made me REALLY proud that I had chosen to work for Wilderness Safaris.
Do you have any sort of “wish list” of animal you’d like to photograph or a place you’d like to visit to do so?
It would be a dream come true to photograph a killer whale in a misty ocean setting, but I don't where or how, just as long as there are orcas and mist involved!
What is the most important thing to remember when photographing in the wild?
Anticipation. It is for this reason that I believe guides are often exceptional photographers. Guides are so in tune with their surroundings and at understanding an animal’s every move, and often even pre-empt the animal’s move or action…
Anticipate, check your settings and snap away!
Click here to find out about our Wilderness Moments Photograhy Competition. There are great prizes to be won!