Ken Kaminesky photographs the great migration

Anatomy of an image

Photographer: Ken Kaminesky

Date: Sept. 14, 2017

Location: Serengeti National Park in Tanzania

Subject: Wildebeest

Equipment: Fujifilm X-T2 camera, Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 WR lens, Fujifilm XF 2x TC WR Teleconverter

Kaminesky's notes: It had long been a top bucket list experience for me to visit Tanzania during the great migration. While I had visions of shooting specific animals, I did not think about exactly how or under what circumstances I’d be photographing. This one shot, though, had been dancing in my head for over a year before I was fortunate enough to be placed in the right moment to capture the stampeding wildebeest. Instead of trying to capture the overall big picture type shot I’m more known for, I opted to concentrate on the macro aspect of the frenzy.

The preparation begins with having at least two camera bodies with different lenses at arm’s length. If you need a wide-angle lens for animals that are closer to your vehicle, you’re ready. Alternatively, such as in this image, I needed a camera with a lightning fast drive paired with a super telephoto lens. The combination of the Fujifilm X-T2 and the Vertical Power Booster Grip gave me 11 frames per second. That’s perfect for this kind of fast-moving, ever-changing scene as hundreds of wildebeest stampeded all around us.

By using the Fujifilm XF100-400mm lens along with the 2x teleconverter, I zoomed in to 800mm on the cropped sensor camera which, when converted to full frame equivalent specs, brings the zoom factor up to 1200mm. I used the spray-and-pray method of keeping my finger on the trigger until Scotty was screaming that the dilithium crystals were overloading and “I just can’t do it anymore, Captain. I don’t have the power!” After several minutes of shooting like a madman, I reviewed the images on the camera’s LCD screen and this one stood out: I gnu that I had nailed it.

Kidding aside, that combination of gear and rapid-fire capabilities allowed me to capture one of my favorite images from the month I spent in Africa last year. This safari moved me. The experiences that I lived, the sights I witnessed, and the people I shared these moments with were all food for my soul. For me, this photograph brings back all these wonderful memories, and whenever I look at it, I’m reminded to be grateful for the magic that photography brings into my life.

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Eric Minton is a writer and editor in Washington, D.C.