Tag Archives: nature

12-Safari of Life

Kob eating grass while experiencing fame at Murchison Falls

I’ve always wanted to go on a safari. I would see photos and hear things on TV that made it sound like an adventure suburban America couldn’t rival. True to its fame, it inspired me to create this.

Load up! Everybody grab their cameras. Is yours fully charged? Check to make sure the memory is wiped. We are going to shoot some animals.

Scour the horizon! Look for any heads bobbing up from the grass. Let everyone know so that we can all see and then shoot it.

Stop, driver! You are making too much noise, you might scare away that kob there. Plus, if we are moving, it is a lot harder to shoot it. Look at how frozen it is. Does it think that we will kill it? No, we aren’t predators. No, we are here only to shoot it. Don’t worry furry friend, you will see your family again. Just stay frozen so I can get a crisp shot. Look at the golden beauty: those protruding bones, brimming musculature, and life-filled eyes. Look at how proudly it stands over the grass.


I raise the lens. I peer through the viewfinder. It is just me and the kob. All my focus is on this beautiful beast.  My eyes lock on his mesmerizing poise and commanding wonder. He is in focus. All my focus is on him. Our eyes find each other, and for a moment we become connected, for a moment we become one through some primal connection. In that eternal moment, an omnipresent silence lifted me from the earth. I was back in Eden where nature was at peace. The life beating in his obsidian-black eyes revealed mother nature herself. Wait until my friends see this. The sacred moment ended almost as soon as it began. It was broken by me thinking about myself.


For a moment, my world became dark. The mirror had flipped in the camera so the sensor could capture the shot. In this moment, a wave of regret crushed me. I realized what I had lost. In that moment of blissful serenity, I choose to shoot, I chose to capture instead of absorb the moment. Some moments are too beautiful to capture. I have lost Mother Nature and captured an kob. I have traded Eden for an image, an image of selfishness. By disturbing the peace, I have acted against nature and tried to freeze a moment in time. Now captured into an image of an antelope, I own this moment once mutually shared between us. I traded sacredness for power over time. Beware all nature, for my camera will transform your vibrant beauty into a static image. Once people see the image, nature will die. People will look at this craven image as reality. They will miss the holy enlightenment I shot. For this hollow and corrupt facade is nothing compared to the light that shown on my broken heart from Mother Nature’s face of limitless elegance.

Look at my shot! Everyone crowds around the camera. The shot was so clean that my hands were rendered obsolete. My eyes could see such detail, that I didn’t even need to touch the animal.


Nice shot! I wish I could take a shot like that! Ok, everyone, its just one shot. There are plenty more that need to be taken.

Go, driver! Once again, the crew was on the prowl looking for its next victim. They scoped out the wild grasses and scraggly trees. They found many throughout the course of the day. All the animals they saw looked at them no differently than if they were a predator, no differently than if they were hunters. They were caught in between running away and defending themselves. Despite all the shots, not one animal died.

This is a short made-up reflection. I was inspired to write it once I learned that only 860 elephants remain in Murchison Falls National Park, and there used to be 15,000. Hunting and poaching these animals is absolutely horrifying. Photography is infinitely better, but still has its limitations. Coming here and witnessing the incredible majesty of nature has been a blessing that I’m so grateful to have.

The majesty of that moment! I did not have it with an animal but with the savanna. We would drive on the top of some small hills, and we could see far off into the distance. The amount of land and trees there was humbling. The vastness of Africa was revealed to me. I felt like i was nothing. My problems felt unimportant. It made me realize I am a irrational fraction of a bacteria to the moon. In the midst of such austere magnificence I felt my own loneliness, my own powerlessness. It gave me great peace. The problems we photographed and videotaped on this trip are bigger than us. They require a God-sized remedy. I am not responsible for it happening nor am I responsible to fix it. Not even God can fix it. He came to earth and wasn’t able to crack the heard hearts of the Pharisees. There is a mighty and inalienable evil in human nature. I can try my best to fight it knowing that I will fail. However, in attempting to fight the devil, I might become the devil. Instead of sacrificing the good that is left in the world, I choose to stand by it. I hope that God will turn the blazing world into a praising world. I stand behind God as we watch the world burn trying to save a chunk of it so that there will be something left to build upon once this evil fire chokes itself with its own wickedness.

A stands for adventure

Andrew Jon Olnes.  That is my name.  Up until the first grade I went by Andrew but in my first grade class there were six different Andrew’s.  I went home during the first week and told my mom that I am going by A.J. and she said ok.

Growing up in Nebraska and traveling on family vacations I learned to love nature and really found a lot of my passions in the outdoors.  From sports to Boy Scouts I was constantly outside.  I also grew up with a camera either pointing right at me or one in my hand.  Hiking, biking, boating, and climbing… you name it we did it as a family.  I have too many photographs of myself growing up due to my parent’s exceptional photography skills and now I have the same passion they do.  This past summer we went to Alaska as a family and it was truly a photographer’s paradise.

Prairie Dog in Alaska
Prairie Dog in Alaska

With my upbringing and my involvement in my high school’s TV and film class I felt that this backpack journalism trip would be a blast and one where I would learn a lot.  I am planning on majoring in business with a minor in theology.  I would like to teach theology someday so this journalism/theology adventure is right up my alley.

It was by happenstance that I met Carol while we were working on the Creighton Global Initiative Committee together.  Carol talked about how she leads this backpack journalism adventure and it sounded very exciting.  I had never heard of the program before but the spark she showed while talking about it made me want to be a part of this amazing journey.  I could not be more excited to embark on this journey with my new classmates.  It will be an awesome adventure.


Considering all that my day was filled with today, I figured I better attempt writing a post on it. Today was a combination of long, fun, relaxing, and adventure.

My morning didn’t really consist of much, just the usual breakfast and briefing.  I wasn’t a part of an interviewing/filming team today, so it was a nice change of pace.  I got to sit back and enjoy my morning and get a chance to wake up for the day.

Around 2 or so, there wasn’t much going on and I didn’t really feel like being social, so I packed up my backpack, and just started walking. It was an amazingly beautiful day outside, the sun was shining and the clouds were puffy and white. I walked along the lake taking in the sights of people fishing, boats coming in and out, and just the vast amount of scenery. I walked to a more wooded area and took in the beauty of the trees and how particularly green everything looked. I probably walked a few miles down the shore and picked a nice spot and just sat there. It was there I had what I would call an “ah-ha” moment, as the natives here would say. It was quiet, peaceful, blissful, and tranquil. For some reason I could feel this deep connectedness, as corny as it sounds, and what some of the natives here have been saying, started to make a little sense.

After walking a little more and turning around, I saw the cutest little old native lady fishing over the edge of the path.  I walked up to her, smiled and asked if she had caught anything yet. We engaged in conversation and she ended up telling me stories of her impressive fishing skills and all of her travels.  I really love talking to elders here, they are all so wise and always have a story or two to tell.

Later, after eating dinner, the rest of the team left here (that didn’t go to the interview) got to experience kayaking. This was actually my first time going, and it turned out to be really fun. We went up a river and after 2 hours turned around. When I wasn’t paddling far ahead of the others, I would sit back and watch the sky as I drifted down the river once again taking in everything around me. For the most part I had fun and it was relaxing. While it was fun, my whole body is currently sore, so with that, a fun end to a great day.