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Behind the Lens 2023: Audience Favorite Winner

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Facebook Photo Comp 2023 Winning Image - Img taken by Philip Yale

It is truly a pleasure to share the story behind the lens of Philip Yale who was selected by all of you as the 2023 Photo Competition Audience Favourite winner in our annual Kariega Facebook photographic competition. Phil’s enchanting photograph of a baby elephant received the most likes from our Facebook community and won an all-inclusive two night stay for two at our Ukhozi Lodge.

Cheshire, which lies in the north-west of England, is where Phil calls home. Phil works in computer technology. His genuine passion is working with horses and their owners to take portraits as he believes horses to be the most graceful and beautiful animals on earth. 

It's worth reading our behind-the-scenes conversation with Phil. 

From his passion of wildlife and photography to his decision to schedule a return trip to Kariega and his subsequent decision to rent a lens for his Kariega Safari. It is quite difficult to not fall in love with this little fella after listening to Phil describe his moment when shooting this picture.

We love the story behind his lens as much as we love Phil’s 2023 Photo Competition Audience Favourite winning photograph. Thank you to our awesome Facebook community for selecting such an interesting and authentic winner!

Behind The Lens | Audience Favourite Winner Philip Yale

Tell us more about when and where the photograph was taken and the camera and settings used to take it.

The photo was taken on a game drive from Ukhozi lodge. We came across a herd of elephants grazing on the bushes and stopped to watch them. There were some magnificent adults, and a number of very young elephants. One in particular decided that he needed to protect the rest of the herd from this dangerous jeep and its occupants. He came charging down a little slope, and then stood about 20 feet from us flapping his ears and waving his trunk furiously. At times he even dropped to his front knees to make more interesting shapes to try and scare us away, as well as picking up as much vegetation as he could find on the ground and hurling it at us! It was a photographic opportunity too good to miss, so I just kept shooting and got a full sequence of his many postures.

I was using a Canon EOS 5Dmk4 camera, and I’d rented a Canon EF 500mm f4 L lens for the trip.
It was nearing late afternoon, and because we were in a bit of a hollow surrounded by thick bushes, the light was actually pretty poor. In order to get a fast enough shutter speed I had to use a pretty high ISO setting. Luckily, the Canon is very good at handling low light levels without adding much noise to the image.

1/500s @ f4.5 ISO6400

Baby Elephant - Img taken by Philip Yale

How did it feel to see and capture this photo?

The situation was so comical that we were all laughing, but I was feeling quietly satisfied all the time knowing that I was managing to capture it all with my camera.

Tell us more about your interest in photography.

I’ve loved wildlife all my life. Wild animals hold such a fascination and are so beautiful in their natural environment that how could anyone not love them? My own interest in photography started when I was a child and my Dad lent me one of his cameras to try. As soon as I got the results (because of course, this was film and you had to wait almost 10 days to see if you’d taken a good photo or not!) I was hooked. Dad then showed me how to develop and print my own black and white photographs and we set up a small but permanent darkroom at home which really cemented my understanding of the whole photographic process. These days, of course, it’s all very different, but I still love the satisfaction of capturing a beautiful image with my camera. I’m not really a specialist wildlife photographer at all, but coming to somewhere like Kariega is just too good an opportunity to miss, so I rent a very good lens and indulge my passion for a few days.

How did you react when you found out you had won and when will you claim your prize?

Obviously, I was thrilled! I was watching the public vote closely throughout, and there were a couple of other really good photos that were threatening to catch me up at times, but thankfully everyone seemed to like my elephant so I managed to win. My wife and I are hoping to return to Kariega in May 2024 as us it’s the best climate. 

Tell us more about your experience at Kariega.

I first fell in love with Kariega in 2018 when my wife and I visited on our first ever trip to South Africa. What a find it was! I was completely and utterly bowled over by the accommodation, the food, the hospitality and the game drives and felt I could have stayed indefinitely (NOT a feeling I usually get on holiday). In 2022 we visited again for a longer time, and now, thankfully, I have an excuse to build another trip around the competition prize!

I love the sense of anticipation when going on game drives. You are never really sure what you’re going to see when it comes to the Big 5. Covid stopped us coming in 2020, so we missed seeing the lion cubs. I’m hoping that there may be some more by the time we return next year! I’m really looking forward to seeing the cheetahs, too - one of my favourites of the big cats.

2023 Photo Competition Winner's Amazing Safari Holiday

Phil was kind enough to share a few more memorable moments from his Kariega safari.
Thank you Phil it was such a privilege for us to get behind the lens with you, and we look forward to seeing you and your wife again in May 2024!

Crowned Hornbill eating an insect - Img taken by Philip Yale

Lioness in purple flora - Img taken by Philip Yale

Enter 2024 Photo Competitions

Entering Kariega’s 2024 Facebook Photo Competition could not be easier. Simply share your favourite wildlife photos from your Kariega safari on our Kariega Facebook Page through the comment section. Your photo will automatically be entered into the competition. The closing date is 30 April 2024.

We love the multiple entries from our guests but due to competition rules the top 5 images are selected from the the album entered. 

Enter now and you could be the 2024 winner who receives a complimentary two night stay for two people at Ukhozi Lodge on a fully inclusive basis.

Instagram Video Competition 

Congratulations to Rhian Smith on winning our first Instagram Video Competition, your reel was spectacular and it met all our requirements. 

On 1 June the 2024 Kariega Instagram Video Competition began. To enter; post your reel from your Kariega safari on your Instagram account and include the hashtag #Kariegavideo24 in the caption. You will also need to make sure that you follow us on Instagram and tag us. If you have a private account please direct message the reel to us or make your account public. Below is the criteria the judges have made for the reel winner:
1. It shows all round experience (wildlife + lodge)
2. The video is a good duration – not too long
3. The video is above average quality

Enter now and you could be the 2024 winner who receives a complimentary two night stay for two people at River Lodge on a fully inclusive basis.