Before I share any photos, a few points for the photographers out there, just to explain the poor quality of some and the lack of any truly great shots.

The camera

It's hard and draws on all your experience of the camera settings and relies on a quick ability to change settings. So often something would jump out of a bush and the camera was set to take a well lit picture of a bird a few seconds before, you don't get a chance to review your images in-between changes as your subject may well have cleared off or turned away.

The vehicle

Vibrates, with the engine idling, and at a distance this results in blur even with a beanbag support. Even if the engine is off it's hard to avoid movement especially with 3 other people jumping up and down in the car through a small roof space. It is also not possible to move to frame your subject, the vehicle is stopped and you take your pics there, no matter what the lifting or background is, so you have no control over this at all.

The subject matter

As I explained before, in most cases the animals were a long long way away and most shots were taken at 400mm, which means the magnification is huge, often the animals were barely visible to the naked eye. And more often than not they are not facing the camera as you see in the national geographic.

Camouflage exists in nature for a reason and at a zoo they don't fill the lions cage with a lot of beige for a reason, so nice contrasty shots are not really possible.

The animals were also most active at dusk and dawn, therefore very little light, this led to noisy and frustrating photography, especially when you saw species that you weren't going to see anytime else, so there was a lot of compromise with regard to shutter speed and depth of field just to get a record of the encounter. To keep shutter speeds sensible the iso was cranked up and the aperture widened, leading to often blurred shots for reasons other than movement.

Birds would alight, hop about, bob, weave and fly off. Prat that I am , I was sat constantly refocussing waiting for the catchlights , which often never came, or by the time I'd shot the bird had flown or turned. In low light there was a lot of long shutter times that made this just impossible.

As something could happen at any second but might not for hours the 100-400mm was on permanently with the cap off. As a result I couldn't take pictures of the kids and Lisa as they were far too close for this lens to function , so the iPhone was used for these.

Sometimes the best thing to do was put the camera down and look. Thus took some learning, but was probably the most important lesson of all.

Anyway enough of the excuses.....