The Ugandan gorillas and chimpanzees

Take a trip to Uganda through Peter Delaney’s XF50-140mm lens to see the Ugandan Chimpanzees and Gorillas in their natural habitat.

by Peter Delaney


In 2001, I made a decision to quit a career in finance to pursue my dream of travelling Africa in a 4×4 Landcruiser. The sheer size and magnitude of this continent was overwhelming. I travelled the forests of Bwindi to the peaks of Kilimanjaro, to the shores of Lake Malawi and the red dunes of the Kalahari. I have spent many months in the African wilderness looking for that unique photograph to showcase the rich variety of wildlife and beautiful landscape that Africa has to offer.

Africa has become the new chapter in my life and I have dedicated the last 15 years photographing this diverse continent.

My dedication to the craft has been rewarded with publications in the National Geographic, Deutsche Geo and many others. My photographs have won numerous awards including the prestigious BBC Wildlife Photographer of The Year in 2011 & 2013.

Photography has become my life, it maybe a cliché, but it’s true. I live and breathe photography. No matter where I am, “my minds eye” is making photographs. It has taught me to see the world in a different light, and for that, I am so grateful.

Recent assignment and what I was hoping to capture

In June, I spent a week on assignment for a client who asked me to photograph Ugandas Gorillas and Chimpanzees. The brief was to photograph the impact of conservation tourism on local communities and the Wildlife. It was a fantastic opportunity to photograph Mountain Gorillas, whose numbers are less than 1000 worldwide, and Chimpanzees whose numbers are under increasing threat from habitat lost due to logging and oil drilling.

When I photograph my subjects there are few things on my mind. First and foremost is the well being of my subjects, I never want them to feel threatened that they may enter a “fight or flight” scenario. The other is that I photograph my subjects aesthetically, so that my photographs resonate with the viewer.

On assignments there are always opportunities to photograph different subjects, on my photography wish list I have always wanted to photograph Fishermen casting nets from old wooden boats.
On this trip I had an hour waiting for our transport to a nearby island. It was a surreal morning with huge storm clouds approaching over calm waters. Local fishermen were fishing close by. I had one chance to get the photograph that I always wanted. I am glad to say I succeeded.

What kit did I take why?

Since 2007, up until last year, all my work was photographed with pro DSLR body.

To be honest, I was never truly happy with this bulky equipment, I would often come back from trips and be dissatisfied with the lack of sharpness and detail. This was mainly due to vibrations from the mirror and shutter.

I have been monitoring the mirrorless platform intensely over the last few years. When Fujifilm brought out the X-T1 and a lens roadmap, I got in contact with Fujifilm South Africa. I had a wonderful meeting with their team and I was convinced by their passion, commitment and dedication not just to the products, but to the Fujifilm community too. The support I have received from Fujifim has been amazing and I’m so excited about the release of the upcoming “big lens” from Fujifilm. I am sure it will live up to my expectations.

On this trip I packed the following gear:

  • 2 x Fujifilm X-T1’s
  • XF18-55mm
  • XF50-140mm
  • Laptop
  • Hard drives
  • SD cards
  • Spare batteries & chargers

I knew photographing the Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees was not just going to be a challenge physically for me, but also to push my Fujifilm equipment to the limits.
I have to admit, I was a little bit apprehensive but I needn’t have been. I cannot emphasise enough how well the X-T1 and the 50-140mm coped with low light, high contrast and wet, humid conditions. It performed beautifully.

Carrying these cameras and lenses around for hours while trekking the Chimpanzees and Gorillas I never once felt tired, or that my equipment was too heavy and cumbersome as it use to be in the past with my old DSLR.

Since I was working for a client, knowing whether the trip was a success or not was down to their reaction. I found my client to be ecstatic with the results, and so was I.

This trip put to bed any lingering thoughts I had about making the switch to Fujifilm “exclusively”. I love my Fujifilm equipment and I love being part of the Fujifilm family as Fujifilm’s X-shooter in South Africa.

General tips

First and foremost, enjoy your Photography.

Secondly, no matter how good you think you are as a photographer, you can always be better, never stop learning.

Thirdly, respect your subject, be ethical in your approach and remember your reputation is everything.

What’s next for me ?

I’m just back from a self imposed year off as I became a father for the first time. And I am now slowly weening myself off fatherhood and getting back out into the field.

Because I love to travel and explore, I am planning trips to Asia, Europe and of course my beloved Africa. I have further work booked with clients who love giving me challenging briefs. I am hoping to work with Fujifilm South Africa next year coinciding with the release of their “big lens”. I love sharing my stories and passion for my photography so I will be giving short presentations both locally and internationally.

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9 thoughts on “The Ugandan gorillas and chimpanzees”

  1. beetleypete – Beetley, Norfolk, United Kingdom – Retired from work, and moved from London to Norfolk. Getting used to a slower lifestyle, Country ways, and more time on my hands.
    beetleypete says:

    Very good atmosphere in these shots, and expressive subjects too. Shooting (or post-processing) in B+W was a great idea, and it has worked very well.
    Best wishes from England. Pete.

  2. I just bought a Fuji FinePix–a bit more than my Nikon Coolpix but not as big as a DSLR. For me (a rank amateur), it is absolutely perfect. I didn’t know Fuji had something for the ‘not pros.’ Your photos are beautiful–those eyes convey so much. I enjoyed this.

  3. Wonderful images, strong so clear and a pleasure to see. I also switched from heavy Nikon D3s and lenses in March this year, I worried would I regret it. No not in the slightest, great glass love my 16-55 50-140 thank you for sharing your lovely work.

  4. Scott's Pictures – Aberdeenshire, Scotland – I have recently graduated from University, and am now working as a financial full-time. As a result, most of my photos are taken at nights and weekends. We have also just moved out to the countryside of Aberdeenshire too, which is great for outdoor shots of nature and wildlife. I shoot with a Sony a6000 camera, and own a 16-50mm, and 55-210mm kit lens.
    Scott's Pictures says:

    You have a phenomenal story Peter. I have just started in the finance industry, and am thoroughly enjoying it, but I totally understand the urge to escape the tie of a 9-5 job.

    Looking through your pictures, I have enjoyed looking at how you identify with your subjects – I am still fairly new to the photography game, but your shots are so different to anything I have seen. Your Black and whites are my favourites! They are so well balanced between to two tones. There are so many different points of interest that having the image in colour would take away from the point of the picture. So great!

    I find it interesting that you were disappointed by the size and lacking of quality in DSLR cameras and have since purchased a mirrorless camera. Do you still use the fugifilm camera, do you find it to be a bit outdated? I have just purchased the Sony A6000 mirrorless, emount camera, and would love to hear your views on it!

    Thanks again for the read,


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