by Matthew Sterne on October 25, 2012
4 min read

Riding in Game Vehicles with Bloom

Philip Bloom is one of those lucky few who have managed to carve a career out of their passion. And by lucky, I mean incredibly talented and visionary. London-based Director of Photography and Director, Philip Bloom has followed his passion for film and storytelling all over the world, capturing life’s nuances through the lens of a camera.

According to Philip, being relieved of his job as a cameraman at Sky News, where he worked for seventeen years, was the push he needed. He has since been free to concentrate on his truer passions and has invested in small, meaningful projects. He has been short-listed for a BAFTA and more recently lent his vision as cinematographer for the  Lucasfilm’s WWII movie, “RED TAILS”. A pioneer in the art of the low budget film, Philip seeks to revolutionise the way we make and think about film.

This is the mini-documentary shot by Philip Bloom during our trip to Londolozi:

Bloom using the Canon 1D X

His travels led him to South Africa this month. After attending his workshop in Cape Town, I met up again with Philip at Londolozi Private Game Reserve where he experienced his very first safari. Two assistants and Bloom, as well as Richard Laburn of Londolozi and I jumped in a game vehicle and headed out into the bush with our tracker and ranger and a mass of fancy cameras and equipment.

Capturing slow-motion with the Sony fs7000

To not only meet Philip but have the opportunity to go trailblazing around the wild with him and watch this esteemed director at work was a dream come true.

Philip has always been about the human experience. This time was no different. Behind the almost intimidating beauty of the Big 5 landscape at Londolozi was the story of the relationship between our tracker, Elmon Mhlongo, a tracker for more than forty years, and ranger, Dean Smithyman, a former accountant turned game ranger, who has revered Elmon since childhood. It was a relationship that fascinated Philip and would become the subject of his latest mini-documentary.

Philip and Elmon

Philip’s understanding of the film-making process is inspiring, especially considering that he’s entirely self-taught. My Canon 7D seemed like a child’s toy compared to his top of the line Canon 1D X, but I’ve learned that it’s not just the quality of the equipment that makes for great shots. Neither of the aforementioned cameras are traditionally used for filming video and yet with the right content and vision anyone can create beautiful pieces.

The proof is in the pudding, or in this case, pictures. There’s no rivaling the crisp, uncompromising quality of his shots. Even the mundane is brought to life with vivid colour and clarity when he’s behind the lens. One of the most exciting aspects of the trip definitely involved shooting with the Sony FS7000, which operates in super slow-motion (240 frames per second in full high definition), generating the most phenomenal images. Watching the way these cameras capture life in all its kaleidoscopic intricacies was an unbelievable privilege and learning experience.

Wallowing rhinos

While being incredibly meticulous and decisive, Philip is always able to find the beauty in whatever his subject may be. Finding beauty at Londolozi  isn’t that hard of course; it certainly lived up to its title as one of South Africa’s elite private game reserves and I’m very grateful that they invited me to partake in this awesome journey. Waking up to the breath-taking views of the Sand River from my suite was the perfect inspiration for the day ahead. During our two days at the lodge, staying at Varty and Tree Camp, we managed to see all of the Big 5 and even spotted a cheetah – a rare sighting in the Sabi Sand. Londolozi leads the way in terms of photographic safaris and even have their own specialised photographic vehicle (read more on our blog about photographic safaris).

Rare sighting - a cheetah with its kill

Rare sighting – a cheetah with its kill

It felt as though it was all over too soon and before I knew it, we were packing up equipment and getting ready to bid the Sabi Sand goodbye. My last night at Londolozi involved a spectacular sunset and G&Ts with my mentor – the perfect ending to the perfect safari.

For more about Philip Bloom, visit his website

For more about Londolozi, visit their website

Sunset over the plains