A TV and music sound engineer from South Harrow has taken on a different kind of technical challenge, by heading to Botswana to photograph animals in their natural habitat.
Alan Mosley, 64, has been interested in photography since he was a student, but in 1997 when he met his wife, Ann, an academic, the couple started taking photography more seriously.
And following the pandemic lockdowns, which kept the couple landlocked like so many others, they decided to take the plunge and head out to Africa to capture animals in action.
“I’d wanted to go on a safari for several years, but my wife wasn’t hugely enthusiastic, especially given the high cost of doing it properly.
“East Africa didn’t appeal – the photos of the main tourist haunts in Kenya and Tanzania, with a single lion surrounded by a ring of gawping humans in their cattle trucks, was enough to put us off.
“Plus, I wanted to get back to Southern Africa, I lived in South Africa for nine years as a kid, aged seven to 16 – I left in 1974, and had never been back.
“We were due to go in 2020, but then a certain pandemic happened, so we postponed, twice.
The entire trip was fantastically well organised, with someone (almost literally) holding our hand from the moment our first plane touched down in Kasane”, said Alan, who has engineered programmes from Question of Sport to Sky News, and albums for many Classical performers, such as The Bach Players.
The first part of the couple’s trip was to the Pangolin Chobe Hotel, accommodation which is specifically kitted out for photography, with guides and tutors on hand.
Alan added: “Normally when we are travelling, it’s rarely a specifically ‘photography’ holiday, so I don’t have the luxury of returning to a location multiple times, or in different lights – I have to grab what is there.
Within that limitation, my wife is very tolerant about me moving around, setting up my tripod, or even occasionally waiting half an hour for the light to improve. The stay at Pangolin was completely different to this because it was geared up to photography.
Chobe was a wonderful experience, with Pangolin breaking us in gently – a proper building with proper facilities, before our next stop, a tented camp.
We love being out in the wild, but would prefer to come back to a nice meal and hot shower – maybe a sign of old-age!”
The couple’s first day was spent on the river, with guide Dennis pointing out a troupe of baboons who were playing and feeding on the water’s edge.
“We must have spent an hour watching the baboons sat on the river bank, grooming, playing, feeding- where other boats pulled up for 10 minutes, then on to the next thing. We had the time and space to shoot many lovely, intimate images of this group.
“Further along the river, we repeated the experience with a herd of elephants – though they were more focused on drinking and eating their clay nutrients than relaxing and posing for photos.
“Add in plenty of birds (some nice shots of Pied Kingfishers in flight, and a river-bank colony of White-Fronted Bee Eaters) big and small, and Pangolin provided a wonderful introduction to Botswana and its wildlife”, added Alan.
After the Pangolin stay Alan and Ann headed to the Hyena Pan tented camp in the Khwai Private Reserve to photograph African Wild Dogs, resting by the side of the track. The couple also were able to see a small pride of lionesses with their ten cubs, from a close 15 feet away.
Alan added: “This was the camp my wife had most worried about – a photo on their website shows an elephant wandering past just a couple of feet from one of the tents (we are talking large tents, built on solid platforms).
When we arrived, the elephants were there to greet us, drinking and splashing about in the adjacent pan. It was astonishing to be so close to them. We were warned not to come out of our tents during darkness, unless we summoned a staff escort first. Since I could hear hyena calls nearby during the night, we were happy to obey.”