Every few months, we run a friendly, internal photography competition between our wonderful rangers.
This month, Justin Barlow (pictured above), won with his beautiful shot of a baby elephant with its family (below).
Justin Tyler Barlow is 30 years old, from Port Elizabeth and has been working on Amakhala Game Reserve for 8 years.
We thought we'd take a moment to let you get to know Justin a little bit better by asking him a few questions about him and his time on Amakhala Game Reserve.
1. When did you realize that you wanted to become a game ranger?
"I have been incredibly fortunate to have grown up with nature and working wildlife has always been something I have wanted to do. After completing a B-Tech in Game Ranch Management I completed a Field Guide course in 2011 and was blessed with an opportunity on Amakhala. Working in nature is not a job, but a passion and one that we are extremely lucky to live on a daily basis."
2. Canon or Nikon?
"Canon has been the brand I started using in 2011 and have stayed with them as their products have reliability and a great reputation. I am currently using a Canon 7D Mkii and this works great for wildlife photography with the fast 10 frames per second continuous shooting."
3. What’s your favourite spot on Amakhala?
"There are many places that I enjoy on Amakhala, however, the open grass plains with a mountain backdrop offers unique landscape to your photos."
4. If you could be any animal, what would you be?
"I would definitely be a wolf. A pack only functions well when all members are working as a team and leaders do not have to be at the front but can also bring up from the rear to ensure no one gets left behind."
5. What has been the most rewarding part of your job?
"The most rewarding part of my job without a doubt has to be the ability one gets from sharing passion with your guests. One gets a feeling that is difficult to describe but it is something that money cannot replace."
6. How long have you been into photography?
"In 2011 I started taking photos and had never done a photography course so for the next two years there was a great amount of self-learning experience I had to do, but when you finally get to understand your camera and settings then photography really starts as there are so many ways of capturing photographs."
7. What sighting on Amakhala will you remember forever?
"The most memorable sighting on Amakhala that I will always remember was the day guests and myself had a sighting of a female caracal that had just taken down a kudu cow. Once the kudu was down, the caracal disappeared into the bush leaving the kudu in the open. Being very puzzled we continued to sit and see if anything else would happen and to our amazement, out came the female caracal with two tiny kittens following her. The youngsters had just come of age to be able to eat meat and watching this sighting really made it clear that patience is key when out in nature as it can have incredibly rewarding moments."
8. Funniest moment on the reserve?
"Funniest moment on the reserve has to be the sighting guests and myself had of a male lion trying to sneak up on a buffalo bull. Although the buffalo bull knew the lion was there he continued to graze while the lion thought he was being incredibly stealthy. Once the buffalo looked up the male lion was a metre in front of him which, from our angle, we could see a buffalo backside with a the head of a male lion peering just passed it."
9. What tips would you give to guests wanting to get the best shots they can?
"There are two tips that I would like to share with guests. Firstly, patience - this is an absolute necessity as it could take a short or long time before one captures the desired photograph. Secondly, be your own photographer – there are so many brilliant photographers in the world and this is largely due to them each having their unique style of capturing photographs. Capture photographs the way you want to and don’t be afraid to try different things as this creates your “own style” of photography."
10. What’s your favourite ever photograph that you’ve captured?
"My favourite photograph that I have captured is that of a leopardess with two cubs approximately 3 months old. Leopards are master of being elusive but the sheer moment of finding a leopardess with young cubs is magical.My favourite photograph that I have captured is that of a leopardess with two cubs approximately 3 months old. Leopards are master of being elusive but the sheer moment of finding a leopardess with young cubs is magical."
Other than Justin's incredible elephant photo, here are a few other that made our top picks: