The Karoo region of South Africa has long been famous for its photogenic luminescence. The high sky with its powerful sun and clear air result in manifold moods throughout the day, each passing hour a changing ambiance filtered through the clarity of this vast unpeopled terrain
Tiger Canyon has attracted many photographers for this reason, providing unparalleled shots of the apex predator in unspoiled vistas. But much of the magic of photographing at the reserve is bound up with the experience of an ancient and undisturbed natural beauty, combining the raw power of the African landscape with the majesty of the tiger. At daybreak the game viewer sets out, the red eye of the sun opening over the darkened grass plains. Birds flutter overhead, their wingbeats loud on the still, crisp air. Springbuck and blesbuck pass gracefully by, and further off the massive wildebeests watch attentively. The light creeps across the plains, the sky filled with the purplish rays of the rising sun. The mood is peaceful but alert, the softened early light perfect for a stalking predator.
In the grass the orange cat lopes, orange as the burning sun. The game viewer pauses, lenses extended like many eyes, and the shutters clap like softly applauding hands. The moment has been captured eternally, the photographer transposing in permanent form the brief magic of a tiger in the early African morning.
As the hot sun climbs the tigers retreat to shady areas and the guests return to the lodge, perched on the canyon edge: red rock stacked perfectly by Nature’s hand. The white midday light blazes down onto the ancient waterway, echoing with the cry of the resident black eagle. The silence and the peace of the Karoo descend, opening a window into an older way of life.
In the late afternoon the famous golden hour arrives. The game viewer sets out again, this time into the bronze warmth of the lowering sun, the yellow grass illumined with rich daylight, swaying like liquid gold in the evening breeze. The search resumes for the elusive cats. The guide spots a tigress lounging on a red rocky outcrop, a smaller version of the singular “Karoo Koppies” sprinkled across the land. Her cubs peer curiously from behind the clump of rocks, their small orange faces camouflaged against the red stones. Again the cameras applaud, the moment enveloped in the tranquil golden beauty.
The furtive dark steals across the reserve. The many stars stud the black sky, the milkyway like celestial mist. The night brings with it the sleepy satisfaction of having photographed the tigers in the Karoo, stored on hard drives and memory cards for later celebration.