A Waterhole, Etosha National Park, Namibia

Updated: Jul 2

Find out what our leading wildlife photographer Mark A Fernley is getting up to outside of our photography tours. Read about his photography journey to photograph the wildlife of Etosha National Park, located in North Namibia.



As we made our way into the lands of Etosha National Park located in Northern Namibia, I began to get into dry yet becoming green bushland that was surrounded by white rock. What sprung to mind was how this rock would reflect the sun’s light on the wildlife. This would allow me to increase my shutter speed to gain that sharp image. Along with that, my ISO was able to be as low as possible set at 100 giving me minimal grain. Driving through the bush, we approached a rather active waterhole surrounded by Burchell’s Zebra in their thousands.





In our vehicle, we crawled up to the waterhole and we found ourselves in a great position for photographing the various species of herbivores drinking there. We waited patiently. One by one, Burchell’s Zebra started to come down to drink. Got ready! With my Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sport Lens connected to my Canon 5D Mark IV, I began to get them framed, ready for the shot. Having hastily prepped to photograph four Zebra drinking in line, I noticed another joined into drink, making this photographic opportunity even better. With the shutter speed set to a 1,250th of a second, giving the shutter enough speed to avoid blur but to let in enough light, I then quickly changed the ISO and F-Stop. The ISO was set to 800 to benefit the scene from the overcast weather combined with my F-Stop setting of 9 to gain more focus on the body of the Zebras. With all settings considered and lens set to manual, I focused and took the shot, followed by several more.





Shortly after, a large male Wildebeest began to cause chaos creating dust clouds in the back of the frame. With the same settings, I got the shot. Later, when returning to this particular waterhole, a large male African Elephant slowly walked towards us in a mesmerising motion and majestic manner. I had to get this shot. The bull Elephant was a stunning white with a contrast of black wedged into its cracked skin. These are known as Ghost Elephants of Etosha National Park! The reason for their ghost or white appearance is that they cover themselves with Etosha’s white clay that comes from the large salt pan. As the light shown through, I was able to bump up the shutter speed to 2,000th of a second as I was fully extended to 600mm with Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sport Lens. Bringing the ISO to 500 compensated for the high shutter speed leaving me to use a low F-Stop of 6.3 to equalise the amount of the elephant in focus. As the subject was so far in this case, most of the elephant was in focus leaving a blurred background of this natural landscape. The green environment here enhanced the white Elephant’s appearance as he walked towards the camera looking like an old wise man!


Mark A Fernley



Join Mark A Fernley with Untamed Photography Tours during our wildlife photography workshops, tours and safaris in our unique wildlife locations around the world. From the depths of the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest through the dry flatlands of Africa and into the secret forests of India, Untamed Photography Tours is here to help you gain wildlife images of all kind that will make you stand out from the crowd.

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