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A Long-Awaited Adventure



Christine Dwyer rediscovers her love of photography on an African safari with her Tamron 18-400mm VC zoom lens.


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By Jenn Gidman
Images by Christine Dwyer


Christine Dwyer always had a 35mm camera in her hand growing up, but photography got away from her during adulthood. Then, over the past few years, she started thinking more about a dream she’d held onto since childhood: a visit to Africa. “I started saving up my money and making my plans, and then COVID hit,” she says. “Those plans were temporarily put on hold. But as the pandemic eased up, I kept thinking, ‘What if I never fulfill this dream? What if I never go?’”

And so Christine contacted Africa Adventure Consultants and finally set the trip up, embarking on a multi-country trip last September and October. “Once it hit me that I was actually doing this, I also realized that I needed to start honing my photography skills again,” she says. “I had a DSLR, but I hadn’t really worked with it that much. I spent a good portion of the pandemic reading up on photography and watching videos to reacquaint myself with taking pictures.”

Before Christine ventured overseas, a friend advised her she’d need a versatile zoom lens for her trip, which is when she started looking into the Tamron 18-400mm Di II VC HLD all-in-one zoom. With a focal-length range from wide angle to telephoto, the 18-400 was exactly what Christine was seeking for her adventure of a lifetime.

“The reach of that lens was critical, especially for situations when I couldn’t get that close to the animals I was photographing,” she says. “At the same time, I was able to zoom out to capture the amazing landscapes that I saw, which were worthy of being photographed all on their own. Plus, the Vibration Compensation (VC) feature on the 18-400 was much appreciated. I would get so excited at seeing the animals, and having image stabilization to control some of that camera shake was a necessity.”

Christine’s first stop on her African journey was in Uganda, a five-night stay that included a visit to Bwindi Forest National Park, where she went gorilla tracking. “It was my first time ever on one of those tiny puddle-jumper planes,” she says. “We landed on a grass airfield, which I’d never done.”

© Christine Dwyer
18-400mm (246mm), F/6.3, 1/250 sec., ISO 400
Click image to view larger

For her gorilla-tracking excursion, Christine, three other visitors, their guide, and a wildlife guard with a rifle—just in case—climbed a steep mountain, where a ranger who keeps tabs on the gorillas had alerted them to where the animals were hanging out. “My heart was beating from the anticipation, and the elevation,” Christine laughs. “But when we got to the top, I cried, because it was so magical. We were able to spend an hour with the gorillas, which are habituated to being around humans for short periods of time. I was able to zoom way in with the 18-400 to fill the frame with their faces, which are so expressive and filled with emotion.”

© Christine Dwyer
18-400mm (400mm), F/6.3, 1/250 sec., ISO 400
Click image to view larger

Next on Christine’s itinerary was a river safari, where she saw hippos and crocodiles, followed by a trip to Kenya. “I was only in Kenya for one night, but that’s where I photographed the rhino you see here,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to see one up close. There aren’t that many left, and they can be hard to find. I loved that I was able to zoom in enough to show those two tiny birds hanging out on the rhino’s back, catching a ride.”

> © Christine Dwyer
18-400mm (300mm), F/6.3, 1/200 sec., ISO 125
Click image to view larger

From Kenya, Christine headed to Tanzania, where she spent three nights in the Serengeti in a tent. That’s where she had the chance to photograph big cats, including leopards and lions. “We would head out at 6 a.m., right as the sun was coming up, stay out until our lunchtime rest, then go back out around 4 p.m. “Thanks to that 18-400 zoom, I was able to capture the lion with her cub and the leopard up in the tree, photographed right at sunset when the light was perfect,” she says. “I went back later with my guide and watched the leopard come down from the tree, retrieve its evening kill from the bottom, and drag it back up.”

© Chrstine Dwyer
18-400mm (400mm), F/6.3, 1/40 sec., ISO 200
Click image to view larger

© Christine Dwyer
18-400mm (400mm), F/6.3, 1/60 sec., ISO 100
Click image to view larger

Christine’s final stop: the Selous Game Reserve in southern Tanzania, where she photographed a waterbuck and a parade of elephants. “It was extremely hot and dry there,” she says. “It hadn’t rained for months. I didn’t have to zoom in too much for the elephants, though. They were maybe 20 feet away. The 18-400 is so sharp—you can see every wrinkle in their skin.”

© Christine Dwyer
18-400mm (400mm), F/6.3, 1/800 sec., ISO 640
Click image to view larger

© Christine Dwyer
18-400mm (90mm), F/6.3, 1/1000 sec., ISO 320
Click image to view larger

Despite the pachyderms’ proximity, Christine wasn’t fearful of the marvelous creatures in front of her. “The hippos and crocodiles on the river cruise were scary, and so was the hyena sniffing around my tent in the Serengeti,” she says. “These elephants, though—they were simply beautiful.”

© Christine Dwyer
18-400mm (70mm), F/6.3, 1/1000 sec., ISO 320
Click image to view larger







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