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About SidSafari

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    Resident in Africa/Former resident
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    Wildlife Photographer/Artist

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  1. @Peter Connan You're right, our frames references are miles apart. But that's because your definition of a game farm is not the same as mine. The game farms I am referring to are for photography, not conservation or hunting. They aren't private game reserves where you take safari's, or do canned hunts, or even a place which breeds animals so they can be sold. They are places you go to shoot exotic wild animals in a controlled manner. These types of farms are mainly in places like Montana, Minesotta. Triple D's is an example of such a place. These farms are too small to aid any real conservation efforts. So they are not like Tswalu at all. I'm not sure if Tswalu has any animals which are kept in cages and controlled by a trainer for photographers. (I may be wrong though). Game farms for hunting and breeding raise issues which are beyond the scope of my original post. My concern was / is the legitimacy of wildlife photographers who shoot captive animals and then mislead the public about where and how those images were taken. Let me illustrate through images (taken from Quartz) why I have an issue with gamefarm photography (especially as it's practiced in America) Great shot right? Looks like it could have been taken in the wild...Man that wolf looks fierce!'s the wolfs trainer with that 'wild' wolf in her arms. How about this one...great wild pack of wolfs in beautiful evening light. Must have taken miles of treking and hundreds of hours of tracking to get this shot! Hmm...nope, there's the trainer again, and a bunch of photographers camped out waiting for the 'action' shots to begin. I think they call this the 'dress rehearsal'. Now this has to be real right? He definitely looks wild...and so does that background. Has to shot in the wilderness of Canada in the great white north.... Nope...that's just a few miles from the major airport and there's wolfie posing again because the friendly trainer has a treat in her hands. and on and on it goes... Nothing to see, just Real 'wildlife' photography happening here. Now if this is the type of photography anyone here thinks falls in the domain of wildlife photography then I'm's photography. It's animal photography. It's game farm photography. But the only way you can call it wildlife photography is if you lie to yourself and others.
  2. The 100-400mm is the quintessential wildlife lens for medium / large size mammals. If I was only allowed to take 1 lens, it would be the 100-400. The optics on the newest versions is excellent and you will come away with great shots. for Nikon shooters the 200-500 is equally good. Though I have found in East Africa sometimes you do need to get a wide angle as well.
  3. I'm not sure if there should be any ambiguity of the word captivity when it pertains to animals. If an animal is prevented from escaping or behaving as it would naturally by humans then that animal is in captivity. Yes, but game reserves put up fencing for reasons other then holding animals in captivity. Sometimes fences are required by law to designate property borders, other times they are kept to protect animals from human conflict. But most of the time it's to keep people out of the area designated for wildlife. Game reserves simply can't be compared to game farms. Game farm are a magnitude of 1000x times smaller then even the smallest game reserves. Whether animals care to live in captivity or not is besides the point and a subject for an all together different debate. Captive animal photography is not the same as wildlife photography. By very definition, wild animals need to be living free. If an animal is trapped by geology then it's not captive because being held captive infers human involvement. Again, a fenced reserve isn't the same a game farm. I think you are conflating fencing in game reserves with the idea of animal captivity and you'll find that most game reserves fence to keep the humans out, and the animals safe. And they do allow for the free movement of their wild game which in many ways ensures the population is kept healthy.
  4. Yes. But only after the judging panel was tipped off about the wolf being a captive animal. Initially they had no idea even though the panel comprised of several professional wildlife photographers. It only illustrates how easy it's become for captive animals images to be passed off as wild. The entire game farm experience is designed to make it seem like the animal was wild. There are even instances where a fight sequence between bears and wolves has been staged, complete with growling animals 'acting' like they would in the wild. It's nothing less then what you would expect in a hollywood movie. This is why I feel awareness of game farms and their practices is important.
  5. Staging is a part of photography -- yes. But is it a part of wildlife photography? This is where the lines have become so blurred. It's one thing if you shot in the wild with remotes and staged a scene that way...but with trainers and bait? Come is that still wildlife photography? Isn't part of wildlife photography an effort to document the natural world? How's it the natural world when the animal has been trained to perform for the camera and lives in a cage for 99% of their life? Frankly, I've said I have no issue with zoo photography -- because zoo photography isn't made to seem like it was shot in the wild. And my purpose here was in part to raise awareness and to seek opinions of other wildlife / safari photographers. In my discussion with many photographers it seems game farm photography isn't even known to most wildlife enthusiasts and I think that's something that needs to change. But you're right. I've probably said all I need to say on the subject.
  6. Captioning 'captive' or 'wild' is a mandatory requirement in most contests because a lot of photographers would remain silent knowing that most people will see an image of what they think is a wild animal -- and assume it was shot in the wild. Saying nothing and not correcting people when they assume a game farm shot was taken in the wild is just as deceptive in my opinion (quite frankly it's very deceitful because you are actively withholding information you know will change opinion if it was revealed). It's like going to a fresh seafood restaurant ordering blue fin tuna and getting served canned farmed tuna...Just because the waiter doesn't say anything doesn't mean it's ok to serve people something under false pretense. There will always be the people who straddle that line and cross it when the going gets too tough (and with wildlife it's always tough). History proves it. Jose Luis Rodriquez won the prestigious Veolia Environment wildlife photographer of the year award for an image of a Iberian wolf jumping over the fence captured at night. At first glance, you'd think this is an amazing wildlife moment. Turns out the entire thing was a captive animal shoot with a trainer and bait to induce the animal to jump. It was basically taken on a small outdoor film set. The photographer continues to deny this even though the judging panel were able to verify it as a captive wolf. Bottom line is, if a practice is condoned then it becomes normalized. It seems game farm photography has become normalized within the larger domain of wildlife photography. Very few peoples seem to have issue with it and even less people are aware of it. And that's a worrying trend because it signals that people aren't really able to / or don't want to distinguish a real wildlife experience with a captive one. When the bar for authenticity is lowered in any artistic endeavor it opens the doors for the frauds to come rushing in. Over time this can result is a diminishing of the art itself. If there are 100's of images of the same snow leopard, Amur tiger, Canada lynx all over the place then the rare suddenly becomes common place. For endangered species I'm not sure that's a good thing. Those interested can read about it more in depth on this issue if you google the "Quartz article on game farm photography" ( or read the opinion of world class photographer Thomas Mangelsen "Point of view: Game Farm photography" (LINK). This is no doubt a complex subject, but I feel it's one that wildlife photographers should be aware of -- especially those of us who do still prefer to shoot wild animals in the 'wild'.
  7. RIP! I remember watching their show and while it was certainly dangerous I kinda enjoyed it. It was more character based reality show then a wildlife documentary for me and both men brought something unique to the table.
  8. I have never been to a game farm in South Africa, or heard anything negative about them as pertains to photography. So I can't comment. I have heard about some farms which keep exotic animals like Tigers and white Lions but I think those species in an African setting are clearly marked out as captive (or at least not wild). There is no deception in anyone taking those images if they enjoy it. If the presence of a farm benefits or keeps a threatened species alive I personally don't have an issue with it. Hell, I don't even have an issue with game farms in America from operating if they do so ethically and with the animals welfare in mind. I think the problem arises when photographers try to pass off captive / model animals as being shot in the wild. That cheapens the work that 'real' wildlife photographers are trying to do. It also sets a dangerous precedent to upcoming wildlife photographers who view such images and think the only way to capture them is by going to such farms. Many lazy photographers will see it as the economical and efficient option to shoot in a controlled environment and not disclose it rather then spend the time in the wild where you have to deal with all the unpredictability of nature. I recently saw images made by a very talented photographer in India named Dhritiman Mukherjee' of the wild snow leopard. To get those images the photographer had to probably spend close to a month in sub-zero temperatures and trek for miles every day with a full pack. Even then most of the images were probably taken with a 600 + TC because of how elusive the animal is. Those images are reward for putting in the hard yards...they are of merit because it captures something real. Now, people can go for years of continually tracking such a rare animal and never see it in the wild and that's something the community as a whole should appreciate when they see images of a wild snow leopard. But if you check out some of the game farm photographers portfolios they have up close shot of pristine snow leopards taken using a 70-200 as they are running through the snow. No mention of the fact they were shot in a controlled situation with a handler close by. Compare the wild ones with the farm ones and it's clear which ones are better aesthetically. But is it fair to have them compared to that standard? For me, it's deceptive and it warrants being called out publicly. If a photographer mentions they shot captive animals I would have no issue with it. I certainly love zoo photography for what it is...but it's when something is made to seem something it's not that gets my goat. (the fact that some of these images then win awards is just the cherry on top).
  9. wow, the images in this report are simply magnificent!
  10. Fantastic Report and some glorius images! can you please shed light on what type of gear you were using when you made these?
  11. great photos! What lens were you using?
  12. It's been raining in the mara (yay!) and it's definitely green at the moment which is fantastic news considering I'm going to be there in a few weeks! Glad to see your trip was so great. Fingers crossed I'll have the same luck!
  13. Frankly game farms for me are worse then Zoos. At least a Zoo has a social purpose. It's to educate people who otherwise wouldn't go to the wild. A good zoo will build a sense of conservation in the kids who visit it. They might never see a wild tiger in their life but a zoo tiger will make them feel like it's an animal worth protecting. At least there is some value to a well run zoo. A modern one might even be able to care for animals that have no chance of survival in the wild (orphaned animals / injured animals). But a game farm is a pure for profit business. They are like puppy mills in that they genetically breed their stock to produce the biggest / most photogenic animals purely so they can be used by photographers and hollywood movies. Most of the animals life is spent in cages where they are trained like dogs to do all the movements a photographer or cinematographer will want from them... So when you see that mountain lion jumping over rocks with the light just perfect and the animal looking like it's never been in a fight or had to hunt...well, that's cause it's hand raised on a farm in Montana or Minnesota. Same thing for the Siberian and Amur tigers and Snow leopards. It's a real pity because you have world class photographers who spends weeks in the complete wild to get those shots and some weekend warrior can pay $500 and pawn it off like he/she has put in those hard yards.
  14. Hmm...I see. I guess we differ on a few things then...probably all of them considering you feel it's about rules and not ethics. As far as Instagram is concerned maybe we should tell David Lloyd, Andy Rouse, David Yarrow, Steve Winter and many others they're not serious photographers...I'm sure they'll love being refereed to as kids as well
  15. What is the forums opinion on these so called 'wildlife' photographers who go to game farms to photograph exotic species? Is this ethical considering most of the animals at these farms are basically kept in cages and made to perform like they were in a circus? There is no doubt the images made at these farms are compelling, but then again -- why wouldn't they be? If I can pay $500 and have a Siberian Tiger or Snow Leopard running in snow at his/her trainers command while I position myself at eye level only 10 meters away with my camera ready I'm pretty sure I'd come away with a great images as well. I understand that real wildlife safaris can be expensive and if done ethically there is nothing wrong with taking images of a captive wild animal. What I have issue with is when these images are pawned off as being wild to the general public. That to me is a con. Most of the time, nothing is said about where the image was taken and it's left to the imagination of the general public that the animal must have been wild...cause honestly, how many people will think a fierce black wolf is in fact a tamed, captive animal model and not the savage beast from the wild? At present Instagram seems to be a hotbed for this type of photography and I see most of it is reserved for the US where I guess most of these farms exist (though I suspect so can also be found in Europe). I pretty sure i'm not the only one who is disturbed by this rising trend in wildlife photography.

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