April 2021

In pursuit of the perfect image

in People of Singita

In pursuit of the perfect image

While the experience of being at our lodges in person – the sensory journey and deep emotional resonance that comes from being immersed in the African wilderness – can’t be matched, Singita strives to bring elements of the African bush to you through the sights and sounds of our evocative imagery, video and sound clips.

Our Field Guides and content team play a big role in bringing the bush into your homes, sharing the remarkable sightings and everyday moments that make our reserves so special to visit. Resident photography team Ross and Lindsay Couper are our dedicated, on-the-ground content experts and a lot of what you see on our social media and digital channels is thanks to their never-ending pursuit of the perfect capture.  

Originally a Field Guide, Ross became more and more enamoured with photography over the years, forgoing his leave at times to remain onsite and hone his craft, gradually transitioning completely into content production – from videography and sound recording to drone footage, even assisting the Field Guides at our various lodges with their own photography skills. Lindsay, Ross' partner in content and life, brings her creative flair to video editing and production. She started elsewhere in the Singita business, working with the Boutique & Gallery, and increasingly embraced her a new direction with Ross as they both moved solely into a content role.

Largely self-taught, Ross and Lindsay Couper's passion for capturing the moments and spirit of Singita brings the bush into your home

Tell us about one of your most exciting or memorable wildlife encounters?
On a late afternoon drive one day we heard over the radio that there was a sighting of two sub-adult cheetahs. As we approached the sighting the guide noted that he had seen something in the grass approximately 100 yards from where they were lying. Confirmation on the radio then came through that it was three servals – a mother and two sub adults, a highly unusual sighting, especially in an area with high densities of large predators. After viewing the serval, we returned to the cheetah. Suddenly the serval caught a rodent in the grass and the noise attracted the cheetahs’ attention, and like a bolt of lightning the two cheetah swept across the plains after the serval. We stood motionless. Then all of a sudden the serval broke cover from the bush and stopped in front of our vehicle. The cheetah circled the serval hissing and spitting. The stand off continued for several minutes and as soon as darkness fell we departed from the sighting.  We returned the following day, but there was no sign of either the cheetah or the serval. 

The nature of an unusual wildlife encounter is such that Ross always has to be ready to catch the action

What do you love most about creating content and capturing wildlife moments? 
Our photographs help to underscore Singita’s purpose - to conserve, preserve and protect the miraculous places we have have the privilege of being custodians of.  We love the challenge of tackling various genres of photography, and honing the versatility and skills needed to meet various content requests.  

What are some tips you can give to amateur wildlife photographers and safari goers?

Take note of good light – the soft, gold light of dusk and dawn is always the best to photograph in. Early mornings are our favourite time of the day, just before sunrise. There is a sense of calm and it allows you to prepare yourself for the morning without feeling rushed. It also gives you the space to slowly enjoy your coffee with a rusk (a South African traditional biscuit) and listen to the sounds of the bush. 

Ross and Lindsay prefer to shoot at dawn or dusk, which guarantees soft, golden light and moody shots

Always be prepared for anything to happen at any given time on a game drive. ‘I will often try and envisage what my final shot will look like and this allows me to prepare for the moment, by checking my camera settings frequently,’ says Ross. Also, ensure your batteries are charged and you have lots of space on your memory cards, including your mobile phone. 

Don’t pack your camera away when the sun sets, for some wildlife photographers this is when the magic begins – as the stars stretch across the night sky. 

Practice. ‘I encourage photographers to get to know their cameras. The best way to do this before you go on a trip is to head to a dog park and capture the dogs moving about – this is good practice to capture a moving subject,’ says Lindsay

Guests' sighting requests range from giraffe to dung beetles, with visitors to Singita Sabi Sand always keen to see familiar resident leopards

What do you find guests are most excited to see, sightings wise? 
This is a tough question as many guests have different expectations of a safari in Africa – and first-time safari goers are often in awe at everything.  Many returning guests will request to find leopards that they have known for many years through previous visits to Singita. Tracking and finding a specific leopard could be described as as seeing an old friend.  

Using a combination of Field Guide experience and technology - including drones and hidden GoPro's - Ross manages to capture unique perspectives

How has lockdown and COVID-19 changed how people approach safari? Can virtual safari ever replace the real thing?
A virtual safari could never replace the real thing - the feeling of the canvas of a safari vehicle, the dust, the sounds, the morning light and the friendship you build with your guide and tracker. 

Through images and video that transports, you're able to experience the magic of the bush even if you're not there in person

Tell us an something that people seeing your content would never expect...
We are self-taught photographers and videographers with a lot of YouTube tutorials in our browser history. ‘I rely on my artistic background to compose my imagery and I have been fortunate in that my guiding experience allows me to pre-empt wildlife behaviour and get into the right position. I have learnt a lot too from other photographers’ work,’ says Ross. 'I always dreamt of doing something great in the world and I have now realised that I am doing my part in highlighting the plight of various species through my photography for Singita.'

‘I bought my first camera two years ago and now watch Ross’ browser’s history and all the YouTube tutorials that he learnt from. The most rewarding part of creating video content is to have our viewers feel like they are with us in the vehicle for the drive,’ says Lindsay. 

Book your own immersion into the wild, and experience some of these unforgettable moments for yourself. Click here to enquire >


By Julia Freemantle

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