Photographing Mopani trees in the Kruger Park.


The coloured Mopani’s are without a doubt one of the most beautiful backgrounds one get  during winter with the wildlife as main subject matter in The Kruger National Park. Or if you are lucky and work hard enough on their own as they are definitely beautiful enough to compare with the mega predators on photos or landscapes elsewhere.

To me the most beautiful sight throughout my July 2013  trip was the wonderful fall colours the Mopani trees displayed especially when the sun was shining from behind the trees or into the  lens. It thus places the wildlife second in line subconsciously if you go out deliberately to capture them. I could however just not  get the perfect setting and I was literally scanning every meter while driving and obviously in the process missed out on most wildlife opportunities but if you want a specific image that is what you have to compromise on. The main reason for mostly not getting the images depicted in the mind’s eye when it comes to landscapes in the Kruger Park was  the fact that one is not allowed to leave your vehicle in the park as well as the restricted road system. Of course I’m in favour of both rules due to sustainability but I  just mention it from photographic point of view. If you could drive anywhere and get out of your vehicle  there would have been breathtaking landscapes capture in the Park. The row of trees directly next to the   road restricted a good view of the good Mopani landscapes so I was  driving to find a  open grassland in the foreground with Mopani’s in the distant to get from foreground  to  background in focus. The other problem was that when the sun came out the horison was too bright or about 4 to 5 stops lighter than the Mopani’s. At locations when I got to a good viewpoint the effect was missing or there were no varied colours of leaves. It is not everywhere that the Mopani’s had the wide variety of colours however.


What I was looking for was clean dark branches or lighter branches spattered with coloured moss, and a large variety of coloured leaves especially with individual trees.  This is very difficult as the Mopani’s cluster together making it look too disorganised. The patterns, colours, and emotions have to come together.

I however decided to get as much wildlife and other plants as a assignment or project that had Mopani’s in the image and will display them in future.

I mostly used a very small aperture to cut as much as possible from the distracting backgrounds of the other Mopani's in the background. Also I looked for a slight slope in the background as to get most of the background in shade to allow the Mopani's that are captured to stand out. 

Next: Capturing Elephant images