A question asked of me had me wondering… “how did you get interested in wild life Photography?” this asked in a comment. I gave a quick reply and then thought about it. How did I get interested… a good question, it was almost bred into me.
Being born in Bulawayo and at a very early stage of my life, relocating to Gwanda first, then West Nicholson, both small towns in Rhodesia, situated in the country side, I’ve always been surrounded by wild life. My school career started at R.E.P.S. (Rhodes Estate Preparatory School) situated in the Matobos National Park. An all boys boarding school, located South of Bulawayo in the bush. This is where my nickname of Bulldog was given, on day one, an undershot jaw fascinated a senior, dragged by my collar I was displayed to the school. The name stuck for more years than I care to remember, even till today.
(Side tracked) At his school we were allowed to book out in groups of a minimum of three and walk around in the park. Rhino, Sable and many other animals roamed free within the park, and my memories of sneaking past Rhino still quite clear in my mind. It was at this time I started collecting birds eggs as a hobby, it had to be done correctly, and now seems so cruel. The eggs harvested from the nests had to be fresh as a small hole was drilled with a Dentist drill and the inners “blown” out. An egg had to be left for the parent birds, and records of where it was collected and details of the nest etc. recorded. Many a time a hand inserted into a nest would reward you with a snake, so one learnt how to identify snakes as well as the birds and their eggs.
This undoubtedly was where my association with animals and birds began. Following R.E.P.S. came senior school at another all boys school, Plumtree School, located on the border of Rhodesia and Botswana. I think my Father was attempting to keep me as far away from girls as possible. Here again weekends were spent roaming the bush, and in my more senior years I had a squirrel and a bush baby as daily companions. they lived in my school shirt or pocket, well hidden from teachers and prefects. If this was not “pushing the envelope” in getting close to nature, as well as a beating on the back side, I’m not sure what is.
School holidays were spent walking in the bush, a primary interest, till the female interest arose. Most of my Dad’s vacations we spent camping in the surrounding bush, hunting and generally just increasing my knowledge in bush craft. The hunting didn’t last that long, I preferred to see the animals walking around in their natural habitat, and creeping up on them to try and get a close up photo, the challenge.. my instamatic had not heard of a telephoto lens. My photography started then, but I could not afford anything more than an instamatic, so it was fairly limited.
On graduating from school (I think they were pleased to see me go), I decided to follow a career in Land Survey, and this, as well as military commitments kept me where I wanted to be, in the bush. One survey I did, had me spend six months in the Gonarezhou National Park Park in Rhodesia, it was at that time unoccupied by any one, except for two policemen and a Tsetse fly control officer. The railway line to Mozambique passed through it with a road next to the line. the only other road was next to the National border fence. We spent a lot of time cutting our own roads to get to where we had to be. This park was full of all the animals one could want to see, and many encounters (friendly) were had with Elephant. As time almost stood still whilst we were there, I had many hours of just sitting and watching animals, learning their traits and nuances. How they communicated with each other, there movements and watchfulness for natural enemies. I learnt an awful lot from mere observation, and it just seemed so natural to be doing what I was.
My move, early in my marriage was to South Africa, once there, it had us exploring all the parks and bush areas we could afford to see. My photography in those days was still with a cheap instamatic, and being who I am, one photo was never enough, and developing cost restricted the photography experience.
My first digital camera, a cheapie, started my love of capturing the moment… and time, allowed the purchase of better and better cameras that in the end have now just become an extension of my arm. I seldom go any where without my camera, just in case. Our holidays and entertainment life have followed the camping, caravanning and motor home route.. the National Parks my second home. My family have all taken to the bush like real natives and this is a source of pleasure for me. Following in my footsteps, all keen photographers, keen campers and lovers of the Parks where the animals run free…
One day I hope to attain the heights of owning a Canon or Nikon, a more professional camera, with all the lens a person would want. I know this sounds as though I’m degrading my present Fujifilm cameras, of which I own three, why three, who knows, but they do give me pictures I am happy with. However I remain envious of the photo captures of some of the other nature photographers who are all lucky to have professional equipment… I need a sugar Mamma…
I think that would explain my love of nature, my wish to capture as much as possible on camera, and why my blog is mainly animals and birds.. an outdoor man by birth and upbringing, and when I pass on, I want the memories of me to be affiliated as such….
Completely enjoyed this report…absolutely wonderful…and now with a new camera on the way…we’ll get to see even more of your beautiful work. But, your work is already impressive which goes to show the point, it is not the camera but the photographer who captures the photo.
This was so interesting. I’m kind of jealous of where and how you grew up! When I hear of people who were brought up around such beauty, I wonder why I remain where I am in suburbia, USA. LOL! So glad I checked this out. 😀
I have so often been jealous of those in suburbia, all the conveniences and place to see and visit… yet somehow I still remain as far from the city as I can.. I’ve now been in the city for 8 months with a business venture we’re setting up… and I sure miss the raw bush… although the cities have big parks that one can disappear into for 5 to 6 hours that allow you to forget where you are…
I guess it’s the ole “the grass is always greener” thing. LOL! Sounds amazing though – even the cities where you are. There’s a lot to love where I am, but not much diversity in nature and that is something I wish I had near me. 😀
Very interesting. You made me chuckle at the female interest mention…and loved to picture the camera as the extension of the arm. What a rare life you have had, a fantastic blessing to be surrounded by beauty for so long. My youngest would have loved to have stepped into your shoes. He adores nature with a passion. thank you for bringing your world to us. So wonderful to see the beauty that surrounds you. Sam 🙂
I have had a very blessed life in relation to the wild life and surrounded by the bush… it equals out all the hardships we have endured…
Thanks for the interesting autobiography. I’m so glad you took to wild-life photography. Love your photos, bdt. Have a great weekend.
Thank you and the same your way…
Oh – and I’m so happy to know where the name bulldog originated!! 🙂 I wondered about that !!
Been with me for 55 years… my business now carries the name “Bulldogs Turf Solutions…”
oh wow! that is too much — i always wondered if I was doing the right thing using it and not just asking for your true name – but you must like bulldog with all that history! So glad to know!! xo
So nice to see how you came to this passion bulldog! I would never guess you used anything but the most sophisticated equipment available!! Your work is amazing. Wonderful post – a little more insight which is always wonderful with blog friends !! Sending Love ~ RL
Rob – what an interesting life you have had. I enjoyed reading about it. I agree with diannegray – you should write a biography and include your fantastic photos. And I think your Fuji camera are just great. Your photos are at least as good or better than most others I’ve seen. You should be very proud of them.
Thanks so much… I’m happy with what I’ve got in the Fuji… but I would still like the capabilities of the others…
Hey homeboy! I’m a Bullies girl too. Moved here just after college. Lovely post. So nice to know more about what makes old Bulldog tick. Ok, not so old. ..
Bullies Rules… where you now in the burg or the cape…?
Jo’burg. I’m a city gal nowdays 🙂
Rob, this was a total pleasure to read…it’s interesting to me to learn the lives of others. I think the full version Bio would be a best seller…it may take a while to write, but certainly worth it! Like you, my brain was off in the woods somewhere and a good part of the time so was my physical self. It’s probably why school was such a distraction LOL.
How right you are… school seems to have got in the way of having fun…
I really love hearing about the lives of fellow bloggers/photographers and yours is simply fascinating, dear Rob! I have to agree with your family … write the bio! Be well and stay blessed.
Thank you Gina… I have so much to tell it might end up as three books… when sitting round a camp fire talking of the old days, when relating one story I remember another and that would be the never ending story of Rob… although it certainly has an attraction as a project
That was great Bulldog! It was very nice to learn more about you. You made me laugh with the comment about your Dad trying to keep you away from the girls! 🙂 It sounds to me like you live a very exciting, happy and fulfilled life. Simply amazing.
It has been amazing and I’ve always known I was one of the lucky ones… my parents were not well off.. but they gave me an upbringing I cannot fault or have wished for more…
You’re so sweet. I grew up a poor kid (still poor, too haha) but I was lucky also – I was wanted, loved, cared for and happy – that makes me lucky, too.
On that I totally agree…
This was a beautiful post and it was so nice to know more about you dear Rob. I can understand now why you love wild life… Camera is not important, I mean what camera you use, the important point is what you see and how you take them… The composition and light are always great and make the photography… I love your all photographs… They seem all professional… But of course there is not end for cameras and their equipments 🙂 Still there is a list for me too 🙂 Once again I am so glad to meet you dear Rob, you are so nice person and so nice photographer. Good Luck, with your camera.
Thanks and Love, nia
Thank you Nia for such kind words..
This autobiography was a great idea Bulldog! I feel like I know you a lot better now :). Other than the fact that you life has been an incredible nature experience that most of us will never have the privilege of experiencing, the one thing that stood out to me was when you said you got your first digital camera and it started your love of capturing the moment. It made me realize that it was the digital age that did it for me too. I mean, I always loved taking photos from the time I was a kid, but the expense of developing the pictures always restricted my creativity because I knew I could only take a few photos here and there if I wanted to be able to afford to develop them. Now, after the initial expense of a camera, I can snap photos to my heart’s content and know that it’s now going to cost me a thing. So, I continually experiment all the time now without worrying that I am wasting money on shots that may not turn out. As a result, I am finding the creative side that I never knew I possessed :).
How right you are… a visit to the park will see me snap 250 to 300 photos per day, half not good enough but it costs nothing to hit the delete button… but the other half are there to learn from.. I went to the park last year and in 7 days took 2800 photos, one leopard sighting 350 photos, all good, makes it difficult to decide what to throw away…
Just keep them all! That’s what external hard drives are for LOL :).
Thanks for the insightful history, bulldog 🙂 As for the school being glad you’re on your way – I think they all are, secretly hoping you don’t become notorious and THEY guilty by association, he he.
Now that gave me a good chuckle… if you only knew the half of it… you’re probably right…
Maybe better that way – don’t need any more ideas 🙂 Every time I run into my old teachers they look me over and ask what I’ve done now. Nothing…yet
After leaving school I met up with some and had a laugh about my school days, others crossed the street just to avoid me…
Ja you always get THOSE people – spoil sports.
What a wonderfully interesting post – so good to know more about you. Yes I want a better camera too!
These camera’s are just so darned expensive… I read a blog the other day where one was asking advice of his readers on a lens he wanted to buy… R72 000… that’s just about the price of a small car…
This is wonderful! It’s amazing what we do as children (your example with the eggs) that we cringe about when we get older. You are so lucky to have seen
these all these animals in their natural habitat when the rest of us are lucky to get a glimpse of them looking sad in a zoo (I don’t like zoos).
Wonderful story – thank you for sharing and if you ever write a biography, I’ll be first in line to read it! 🙂
I have been encouraged by the family to write a bio.. they say they will never remember all my experiences… might just try it when I’ve finished the book I’m busy on at the moment…
Its great doing this. I’ve started mine (though it will never be published until I’m long gone!) and it’s amazing what you remember when you start writing it down…
I started a book on just trips to the Kruger, the things we have witnessed and experienced… it has already reached 35 000 words, I thought of turning that into and ebook with photos etc..
Maybe I should start a bio for the family…
Excellent idea 🙂 I wish my grandparents and their parents and so on and so forth had done that. As it is I know little about them except for some old photos
🙂 That was enjoyable. Thank you.
An insight to my past…