Shooting from the Trip

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside Magazine, 1999 Annual Travel Guide

Shooting from the Trip

Photo safaris to hone your skills and sharpen your focus
By Kara Ryan

On the outskirts of Dakar, middle-aged borro-borros, West Africa's traditional pharmacists, sit on blue plastic tarps surrounded by the raw materials for making jujus: iguana skins, lizard heads, monkey paws, and any number of rodent skulls. Each juju has a specific purpose. Nissi Binno, a cow's horn decorated with white cowrie shells, safeguards one's home. The numba is a belt for protection against assault, while sadji binno, a goat horn wrapped in red cloth, attracts business. My personal favorite, though, is a firecracker-shaped packet with a tiny brush of hyena hair protruding like a fuse from the end. Worn inside a man's pants, its sole function is to enhance popularity. "And if you light the fuse," my guide whispers slyly, "it lets you sing like Michael Jackson."
        — Jeff Greenwald

Phocus International 1998: Botswana's Green Season
Spend eight days photographing elephants, lions, cheetahs, leopards, zebras, giraffes, and antelope in both Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park in northern Botswana. Led by four internationally-acclaimed photographers from three continents, Natural Habitat Adventures's photo tour takes you on daily game drives and walks to capture on film the emerald green landscape of Botswana's wet season. You'll witness newborn impalas, hippos, and kudu with their mothers, and the diverse species of birds found in the area's papyrus swamps.

In the evenings there are lectures and seminars on equipment, composition, and technique. Stay in deluxe permanent tent camps with comfortable beds and baths with showers, plus a plunge pool and bird-viewing platform. The trip, set for December 3-10 and December 10-17, costs $2,895 per person, including all meals and internal airfare; call 800-543-8917.

Focus on Ethnic China
Travel to China's Guizhou Province and experience colorful spring festivals and markets with expedition leader and adventure-travel photographer Nevada Wier. You'll photograph the unique cultural rites of two Chinese ethnic groups — the Miao and Dong people — who practice forms of shamanism, animism, and ancestor worship.

At the lively Miao courtship festival, check out the bullfights, cockfights, horse races, and the courting ritual in which young girls in elaborate costumes offer gifts to prospective partners. In the villages of the Dong, view the drum towers and bridges that date back nearly 500 years. You'll also take several riverboat rides and visit museums, a sacred cave, a hot spring, and a Sunday village market where locals come adorned in richly embroidered clothing and headdresses.

Both still and video photographers (plus their families and friends) are welcome on this 18-day photo seminar (February 2-19, 1999). The $3,490-per-person cost includes lodging in rustic hotels plus all meals, airport transfers, and ground transportation while in China. Call Mountain Travel-Sobek at 800-227-2384.

The Texas Big Bend
On this weeklong photo tour in and around Big Bend National Park, you'll start in Marathon, Texas, and spend three days in the park photographing slickrock canyons, odd igneous rock formations, and the surrounding Chisos Mountains. There's plenty of time to visit nearby ghost towns where the pictographs and petroglyphs recall Comanche Trail travelers; a restored frontier fort in Fort Davis; a former Western movie set; the Mexican border town of Boquillas; and the McDonald Observatory, where you'll attend a "star party" and learn about astral photography.

The trip (January 24-29, 1999), open to photographers of all levels, is guided by Texas photographer and writer Bill Wright. Cost is $645 per person, including lodging but not meals; call Santa Fe Photographic Workshops at 505-983-1400.

Sonoran Desert Expedition
Anderson Ranch Arts Center offers a 10-day trip into the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona and northern Mexico. Led by landscape photographer Mark Klett, the group explores the rugged mountains, broad valleys, sand dunes, lava flows, and watering holes of one of North America's last intact wilderness areas. You'll visit parks and wildlife refuges, national monuments and military bombing ranges. Highlights include visiting Arizona's Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and camping in Pinacate National Park in Mexico.

Beginning and ending in Tucson, the trip combines four nights' lodging and five nights' camping. You'll need a tent, sleeping bag, and four-wheel-drive vehicle. The program, for intermediate and advanced photographers (bring your portfolio), is October 22-31, 1999, and costs $900 per person, including lodging, all meals while camping, daily discussions, and one-on-one time with Mark in the field. Call 970-923-3181.

Tips from the Field

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