During the COVID 19 Lockdown, something many of us had on our hands was time – time in abundance. Others who had wished the weekend would never end, certainly got their wish. But whether or not you got your wish or had time, what this lockdown undoubtedly did give all of us was the opportunity to reflect, both personally and professionally.
Through reflection we realise just how grateful we should be for life as we know it.
It has also allowed for a new perspective on life and our environment. We have witnessed how the Earth, in a very short period in time, has reveled in the ability to breathe. Carbon emissions have dropped considerably; waterways are being able to rid themselves of pollution and the skies have cleared. This is evident if you gaze up towards the heavens at night or towards the mountains in the distance.
The appreciation of a rejuvenating world does not have to be from afar. My 21-Day Lockdown Photographic Challenge made me look from the confines of my home, closely at nature in my immediate view – and I wasn’t the only one. What particularly grabbed my attention, as an amateur photographer, was the number of Facebook pages that sprung up, drawing attention to the wonderful natural world around us and just outside our windows. A View from Africa and View from My Window are just two examples.
For those who are fortunate enough to afford to go on safaris and see Africa’s big game at close quarters, we lose sight of the little things. How many avid wildlife photographers would ever stop to take a photo of an impala? Not me! That urge passed during my first safari, simply because there are so many, and capturing big game was just that much more exciting. But, during my challenge, I longed for an impala to saunter past my home. The day they did I must have taken over 50 pictures – not to mention those that appeared on the far side of the dam for a late afternoon drink. Hardly a photo that was going to make anyone sit up and take note, so I thought. My impression of the photo was what my daughters and I term “No photo, No sighting”. Previously I would never have attempted such a photo considering the distance and low light – even with a 500mm lens it was a far and being confined to my home meant there was no way I could get closer. I would have walked away from the scene. However, being extremely grateful for the opportunity on the day, I took the photo. It had been particularly quiet and I needed every opportunity to attain my quota. The result was worthy of posting in social media. Lesson learned! Never pass up on an opportunity, you never know what you might capture and never underestimate what you can do in post-processing.
Having been on constant alert to make my daily quota of photos, still has me reacting at the slightest movement out the corner of my eye. It was up to me to spot the animals. There simply wasn’t an experienced ranger to deliver my subjects to me as is the norm on safari. How hard do we actually look for subjects when we have a ranger and tracker?
Reflecting on all of this, whilst living on my own and being at one with nature, has made me appreciate everything I have in life. We need to ask ourselves why we want for anything? We need to grasp the opportunities that are afforded to us and extract everything they have to offer.
Something unique to being on safari in Africa is that the expansive wilderness encourages such reflection.