I did my Field Guide NQF 2 at the end of 2021 and I have truly fallen in love with the bush. Growing up I spent copious amounts of time in the bush with my family but didn’t really know much about the bush, other than general information about the animals. I happened to find the EcoTraining Online Field Guide course and thought it would be great to complete, which would help broaden my knowledge about the bush. My 35-day practical course sealed the deal and I fell further in love with the bush, which I didn’t believe was possible.
Life in the bush – Photograph © Hailey Pope
While I was doing my training, I found out about the media internship program that EcoTraining runs and thought there could be nothing better for me to do before my 21st birthday when I can legally start guiding. The program would give me an insight into a working environment that interests me and some experience in a working environment. Nothing beats doing the things I love in an environment I love. I was in contact with the team from EcoTraining and was offered to work as an intern for 2 weeks in February.
I have always had a fascination with photography and the endless possibilities you have at your disposal with a single tool. I was never introduced to videography, so I wasn’t as clued up with this as I am with photography. These two go hand in hand as the concepts are the same, the one is just a moving photo with sound. Not only do you get to take photos while on the internship, but you also record videos for various reasons, the main one being for YouTube content. I can confidently say that I am leaps ahead from where I started 3 weeks ago at the beginning of my internship, with my skills, especially those in videography.
Buffalo, Dugga Boy (left) & White-faced whistling duck (right)- Photograph © Hailey Pope
This was my first “official” job and boy did I learn a ton of new things, from interpersonal skills to use Adobe Premiere Pro to guiding skills and learning more tips for both photography and videography. The beauty of both videography and photography is that you are constantly learning new tips and tricks both in your own work and from the people around you.
The African bush has something about it that draws people in and latches on to them. Working in the environment that EcoTraining provides has something about it that draws you in and leaves you wanting more. You are exposed to mother nature at its finest while being in a comfortable learning and working environment. You are surrounded by like-minded, passionate people who share a common interest.
Nothing beats being able to wind down after a day in the bush by sitting next to the crackling fire chatting to the students and instructors with the warm breeze blowing through, bringing in all the nightlife sounds.
It is great being able to experience the new things with the students, such as receiving their EcoTraining uniforms, conducting their first or second guided experience, or finding something interesting on a game drive and hearing them speak so passionately about it. Not only is it a great feeling for the students to be experiencing that but also for us to be sharing with their joy.
Professional Field Guide Students in their EcoTraining Uniforms – Photographs © Hailey Pope
I arrived 2 weeks into the student’s 55-day Field Guide course, they were all extremely accommodating and friendly towards me, as well as all the staff in camp. I was guided into the running of the media team and was shown the ropes. I was tasked with editing videos for the People’s Weather Channel and a few other tasks. I edited a YouTube video as well as a few YouTube shorts. I got to help record some snippets for various videos as well as take photos while out on activities. I was also excited about joining the students in their daily activities, such as walks or game drives.
I participated in the Field Obs. (filed observation exercise) that the students were doing, to test my guiding knowledge on insects, tracks, trees, etc. We got to go star gazing and listen to 2 of them talk about their extensive knowledge of the stars and the universe.
I helped the media team capture a video and took some behind-the-scenes photos at an outing to a local school where we celebrating World Plant a Flower Day.
World Plant a Flower Day – Photographs © Hailey Pope
To wrap up my 2 amazing weeks in the bush, I spent the last night in camp with the students on their sleep out. No words can justify how incredible it was. There is just something about the bush that draws you in and leaves you wanting more.
Thank you to the EcoTraining Media team for giving me this wonderful opportunity to see and experience the bush from a different point of view.
Want to experience the EcoTraining Wilderness Photography course?
Taking great wildlife photos is not as easy as it looks. Not only does one need creativity and technical knowledge, but also knowledge and understanding of one’s subject matter.
EcoTraining Photography Course | Makuleke, Northern Kruger National Park
Instructor Chad Cocking gives some insight into the EcoTraining photography course that takes place in the incredibly diverse and wild Makuleke concession in the Northern Kruger National Park.
About the Author:
Hailey Pope past EcoTraining student and Intern with a love and passion for photography.