How To: Two Weeks, Two Peaks
Tips and tricks for those once in a lifetime shots.

By Jon Cox

Two weeks may seem like a long time with countless photo opportunities, but when you are trekking up the highest mountain in Africa the time goes by quickly. I was on Safari for three weeks teaching photography and wildlife conservation and at the end of the three-week safari I stayed behind to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro. It was my fourth trip to Africa and I just couldnāt pass up the chance to see the icy peak before all of the glaciers melt. Just like I relied on my porters and guides to lead me to the summit, I also relied on a variety of digital camera equipment to get the most out of my travel photos. In the past, when hiking throughout the United States, Iāve always carried all of my own food, clothing and camera. Hiring a few extra hands, while supporting the local economy, allowed me to carry more camera gear than I would normally take and increased my photo opportunities.

Meru Peak
Photographing the rising sun over Mt. Kilimanjaro, many kilometers from the peak of Mt. Meru, meant getting up at midnight and hiking by the light of the moon. As luck would have it, we reached the 14,979-foot peak just in time to see the majestic mountain silhouetted by a brilliant sky. (To capture rocks in the foreground, the crater, the clouds below and Mt. Kilimanjaro in the distance I used my 12-24mm wide-angle lens.) A tripod was essential to steady the camera while I used a long shutter speed of 20 seconds enabling me to use a high f/stop of f/22 to show the foreground and background in sharp focus.

Hanging moss is one of natureās delights. You can use the moss as a natural frame, a close-up or to add mystery to a scene. My 80-400mm zoom lens was the perfect tool allowing me to sneak a peak of the rising sun through a clump of hanging moss off in the distance. If I didnāt have this long zoom there is no way I could have filled the frame.


Porter Images
Porters are the foundation of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. If it wasnāt for the local porters and guides most tourists like myself would never reach the roof of Africa. Porters and guides are some of the most fascinating people, telling countless stories of storm and wildlife encounters. My favorite piece of equipment for shooting people is my 105mm lens. This lens provides plenty of working distance, but still allows me to make a personal connection with my subject. Since itās equipped with a low f/stop of f/2.8, itās easy to separate your subject from the background because of the low depth of field it offers.



Rainforest Image
Hiking up Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru gives you the chance to see a variety of biomes in a short period of time. One of the most important things to remember when traveling is to take the shot when you can, even if it means unpacking all of your camera gear to get the right lens. The soft diffused light falling on this scene changed in a matter of minutes.

Alpine Flowers
Tourists often neglect macro shots. After all, what usually attracts us to travel to a place is the landscape. A lunch break or a short rest is the perfect to time to take advantage of the close-up world. You can change almost any lens into a macro lens by adding a close-up filter or by utilizing the macro mode built in to your camera. Either way, make sure you look down once in a while so you donāt miss out on some great close-up opportunities.


Hiking the saddle
High noon is one of my least favorite times to take photographs, but I wanted a full frontal view of Mt. Kilimanjaro and this was the only possible time in which to take my shot. Using a wide-angle lens enabled me to capture hikers and the receding glaciers the day before we hiked to the peak, 19,340 feet. Even if the light may not seem ideal, take the shot. You may not get another. One of the highlights of my trip was talking with Jibson, our 67 year-old guide. Jibson said, ćI remember when the glaciers covered half of the mountain but now they are melting fast and soon they will be gone.ä

-Jon Cox is the author of Digital Nature Photography and teaches photo workshops in Chesapeake City Maryland www.horizoncreativeescapes.com.



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