The South-African Bush with Noa Koefler & Hannes Lochner
As a native of the beautiful Dolomite Mountains in Italy’s South-Tirol, I always had an affinity with nature and adventure. After training in field guiding and wildlife filmmaking, more opportunities opened up and I kept on returning to South Africa.
It was then, while working on a film project in the Kalahari Desert, that I met my husband and wildlife photographer HANNES LOCHNER. We soon discovered we had more in common than our love of wildlife. Hannes and I teamed up, travelled through different countries in Southern Africa and I started documenting not just his life as a wildlife photographer but also the behaviour of all the animals we encountered. We now share our passion and live together in the wild African bush working on a multitude of projects.
Hannes is a South African multi-award-winning professional wildlife photographer since 2007. He has produced several magnificent photographic publications, three of which were dedicated entirely to the Kalahari. The Kalahari project lasted six years, where he spent hundreds of hours capturing inspiring images of this captivating landscape and its enigmatic inhabitants. Hannes has been recognized internationally and received several awards over the years as the prestigious BBC‘s Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Natures Best Awards, SIPA, IPA, Aerial Photography Awards, MontPhoto Awards, Golden Turtle Awards, etc.
Our present project will take two years and will be based in Southern Africa. The equipment we use needs to fit the harsh African environment, as we work at remote locations in the African bush the gear needs to be durable and endure tough situations. We shoot at high and low temperatures, throughout dry and wet seasons, under rain- and sandstorms. We work out of our vehicle and on foot when filming wildlife.
Practical, performing and durable equipment is essential in our job. For the past 10 years I have been using the CARTONI FOCUS HD video head on our projects. I had great results and it was a pleasure to work with this lightweight and reliable Fluid Head. In our present project I work with the CARTONI FOCUS 12 Head with an SDS tripod, sturdy and fast to set up on any terrain. For wildlife lurking shots I’m testing, as a vehicle mount, the CARTONI GEKO sliding support with a FOCUS HD Head. Hannes too has given it a try and is very happy with the flexibility of this mount.
Till now I mostly worked with an 8-11 Kg Camera packages and both FOCUS Heads work fine. The weight, of course, depends on the lenses and accessories as recorders/monitors, batteries, etc. I’ve also used my CARTONI Heads filming for production companies that provided their own Cameras with bulkier and heavier equipment. Sometimes I felt the FOCUS HD was on the edge of its capacity as its 100mm bowl is not as stable as a 150mm bowl base, but when you are out on the bush, weight becomes essential and you have to compromise. You learn to work with the tools you have and make the best of it and at the end it worked fine.
To face the weight problem, I now bought one of the new ZCAM Cameras. Those are very lightweight Cameras with great potential. The lenses Hannes and I have and work with are:
- Nikon 300mm 2.8
- Nikon 400mm 2.8
- Nikon 70-200mm 2.8
- Sigma 120-300mm 2.8
- and a variety of wide-angle lenses.
For the new camera setup, I’m looking into getting a new lens like the Sony 200-600mm or Canon 200-400mm.
I don’t want the pan drag to be too heavy due to lighter loads and end-up fighting to pan the Camera smoothly. So, I definitely like the drag range on the FOCUS Heads, and noticed the FOCUS 12 is even smoother than the FOCUS HD and CARTONI told me they are using a new formula silicon Fluid which gives consistency with perfect starts and stops and backlash free.
I checked up on the CARTONI SDS Tripod and the STABILO. I must admit I prefer the using the SDS to the STABILO, having a smaller telescopic tripod for time-lapse shooting. But when in sandstorms and heavy rains it’s impossible to avoid sand getting into the pipes and therefore the locks and the pipes don’t always run smooth. I have to take it apart sometimes to clean it all out properly. The SDS seems sturdier to me and has a quicker setup. When it comes to dealing with wildlife it is such a pleasure to work with equipment with quick and easy set-up.
One thing for sure, when the action happens the animals don’t wait for you and surely there is no second take. Things happen so fast and you can miss it all within a fraction of second. The extra weight of the SDS helps also to be more stable on windier days. Whenever I can I like to shoot low level angles outside of the vehicle so I’m at eye level with the animals. I love the SDS Tripod with the double telescopic Smart Spreader that allows me to get quite low mode to the ground.