Monday, 18 December 2017 03:20

Local photographers travelling to Africa for photo safari

Written by  Dominique Liboiron
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Africa has an undeniable mystique and a group of Swift Current photographers are travelling there for a photo safari.

The photographers are members of a club known as the Image West Photographic Association and they’ll be in South Africa from Dec. 7 to Dec. 21.
Stephan Olivier lives in Swift Current, but is originally from South Africa.
The talented wildlife photographer is leading the photo safari. The trip allows him to return to his homeland and to share the magic of Africa with his fellow photographers.
“I absolutely love Africa. Not just because I have grown up on this magnificent continent, but because Africa is so different, so untamed and wild, so richly diverse with culture and such an abundance of wildlife and spectacular scenery,” Olivier shared.
Marlene Andrew is the Image West president. This will be her first trip to Africa. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime dream,” she said of her voyage.
For Andrew, who likes to photograph rodeos and landscapes in Saskatchewan, the prospect of capturing images of wild animals excites her. Andrew also sees the trip as a learning experience. She hopes to learn from Olivier and said that one of his strengths as a photographer is his ability to use light in a way that enhances his pictures.
Andrew explained the idea for the trip came from one of the club members who suggested to Olivier that since he’s from South Africa he should show the others around his country.
The photo safari participants include Pat Olson, who’s been to Africa before, along with Harriet Patterson, Craig and Leanne Hilts as well as Leonard and Lois Howes.
Patterson’s daughter Anna-Marie Ahlefeld of Edmonton and Olson’s daughter Lenice Harms of Didsbury will be accompanying the photographers, too.
Olivier explained the first leg of the trip will be in Sabi Sands, a game reserve that is a very popular destination to see the famous African Big Five, which is the leopard, lion, elephant, rhino and Cape Buffalo. Other animals at Sabi Sands include African wild dogs, hyenas, cheetahs and giraffes.
Sabi Sands borders Kruger National Park. The fences between the two have been removed and animals can roam freely between the game reserve and the national park. Because of the wild and dangerous animals in both areas, visitors are strongly advised never to leave their vehicle.
The photo safari also includes visits of a botanical garden, vineyard, scenic mountains and Betty’s Bay, which is the site of a penguin colony.
Olivier said flowers and plants that are endemic to South Africa will be high on the list of subjects to photograph.
“In between photography sessions, we will be doing some very fine dining and will have the opportunity to do some wine tasting at various wine cellars. Arguably some of the best wines in the world are produced in this area,” Olivier said. 
Marilyn Nimegeers is also participating in the photo safari. Like Andrew, it’s her first trip to Africa, as well.
“Africa has been calling me since I was a small child. In my home, we received Life, Time and National Geographic magazines, which I devoured. What intrigued me the most was anything about Africa, but mostly the animals,” Nimegeers explained. She added, “I get misty-eyed when I think about being there to see and feel the heat and life in the desert and game parks. It’s exciting and mystical at the same time.”
Because of the dust and strong African sun, the photographers must take special precautions to protect their expensive cameras and lenses. Nimegeers is packing light-coloured towels she’ll use to shade her black camera when not in use. To prevent dust from entering her equipment, she’ll use soft brushes, squeeze blowers and microfiber cloths. “Also, I’m taking shower caps to cover lenses for speedy removal instead of lens caps which are harder to put on and off,” Nimegeers said. 
The group will fly into Calgary Dec. 22 and return to Swift Current from there.
To view Olivier’s photography, please visit Watch for pictures from the photo safari in the Prairie Post early in 2018.

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