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Wildlife Photography Portfolio
African wildlife prints canvas and African wildlife prints art ...
'Authentic Africa' is a collection of my personal all time favourite images and is a representation of my wildlife photography portfolio. As a professional wildlife photographer, I spent nearly 1500 hours photographing in the field last year alone. As you can well imagine, in this digital day and age, photographers are producing more images than ever before. Just a few years ago, I would take 50 rolls of film into the bush and all 50 would last me a total of three months. Nowadays, I can fit the equivalent of 33 rolls of film into the back of my camera at once, and shoot all 33 in a matter of days! As an artist, this trend does concern me somewhat as I believe that shooting blindly without careful thought, can hinder a photographer’s progression.
My goal as a wildlife photographer has always been to develop a unique style and to build a wildlife photography portfolio of images bearing my own inimitable signature. This may sound like a simple task (especially given the wonders of digital technology), but after sorting through hundreds of images, I have come to the conclusion that really special ones remain as illusive as they have always been.
I invite you to grab a cup of coffee and take a journey with me as I share with you my all time favourite images…
African wildlife prints for sale :
I had been living in a remote corner of Maasai-land for over a year, when I decided to try and capture the grace and elegance of a Maasai moran (warrior). The scene took place on the dusty floor of the Great Rift Valley with me lying on the ground while three warriors leapt above me. I could only photograph in short bursts, as there were regular, spontaneous and hysterical bouts of laughter from both sides - but for different reasons. I was laughing at the ridiculous athleticism and the soaring heights of each jump. The warriors were laughing at the crazy mzungu (white person) rolling in the dust.
Nomads of Masai-land
In the months prior to this frame, this lioness and her cubs had stubbornly refused to drink in the daylight hours. I had patiently waited until dusk for them on numerous occasions and twice, upon walking back to camp, I met all eight on foot! I never carried a rifle as my arms were always full of camera gear, and both meetings were rather surreal. The cubs were always tentatively inquisitive, running forward with their ears pricked while mom kept a beady eye on my every movement! I like to think that through such experiences, I gain a greater understanding of my own niche in the ecosystem but some say my years of bush living have made me blasé.
It was a particularly cold winter’s morning in Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park. I leapt out of bed in the hope that the river would be steaming, and rushing along in my beat up old 4x4, I alighted at a familiar hippo pool and ran to the water’s edge. The hippos were further downstream than usual and the sun would soon be piercing the horizon; time was of the essence! I decided to load the saturated Kodak E100 VS emulsion of film before wading into the middle of the river, where I found a small sand bank on which to lie. An inquisitive hippo swam by and I took only three frames. Weary of lurking and inquisitive crocodiles, I made a hasty retreat to firm ground.
Lion Cub Sneeze
I was sitting patiently with a pride of lion in the predawn light, waiting for the sun to rise. Just then, one of the cubs sneezed and the resultant water vapour became visible through the beam of my torch. Both cubs stared with intrigue as the sneeze dispersed into the African darkness. Switching my flash off and using a slow shutter speed I was able to capture the precious moment. Natural subjects in the wild often present fascinating opportunities of serendipity. For me, as a wildlife photographer, the simple challenge is to experience as many of these moments as possible and to capture each skillfully on camera so that I might share the mystery and intrigue of creation with others.
Reverting back to analogue film, I embarked on what I thought would be a simple frame to capture but one that surprisingly took months to achieve. I wanted to time the exposure in such a way, that the already set sun would wash the scene with a warm orange glow. Standing in the pitch dark, having lost my cable release in previous attempts; fumbling with elastic bands and pebbles; trying to paint with a torch whose batteries were running flat and second-guessing my timing, all soon became familiar irritations. Having to leave my camera in the wilderness, often times stumbling across breeding herds of elephant in black of the night, only added to my woes. Furthermore, the rains were on their way and clouds parading under the cover of darkness were ruining dozens of frames, causing me to miss the new moon period and having to wait another twenty-eight days before my next attempt! I felt like an artist who had lost control of his brushes! Finally, when I believed I had the frame, I then had to wait a further three months before being able to return to a city for development. Years later and in hindsight, the undertaking was pure pleasure.
I have followed the great migration in Kenya’s famed Masai Mara Game Reserve for eight consecutive years now. The pinnacle of the migration comes when the great herds cross the mighty Mara River in their primordial quest to reach the far-flung grazing grounds in the northern reaches of the ecosystem. A river crossing constitutes thousands of individuals leaping into the river and swimming through crocodile infested waters to the other side. It is also one of the most photographed natural events on the planet and I wanted to capture a unique image, an image that communicated the frenzied and tangible energy of a migration crossing. On this particular afternoon, the wildebeest herd had been plucking up the courage to cross the river for three hours! Finally one brave individual leapt into the water. I waited for the decisive moment when the wildebeest emerged from the water with a splash and the rest of the herd followed suit. Using a slow shutter speed, I tracked the first wildebeest through the water and an aperture of f8 allowed me to record the rest of the herd in the background.
Portrait of a King
At first, the dominant coalition of lion refused to accept my presence, either charging the vehicle or disappearing into the thick brush. A year later, they had begun to accept me into the pride, and allowed me to follow within a few meters. On this particular morning, this regal Simba paused briefly to watch the rising sun.The moment was brief but freezing such moments in time is what makes wildlife photography so rewarding.
The zebra herds in the southern rift valley of Kenya were far too wild and shy to photograph from a vehicle, so I dug a hole in the ground and parked my vehicle out of sight. The herd approached tentatively, with the lead stallion to the front and left. These beasts roam the floor of the rift valley wild and free as all creatures in Africa once did.
Wild Dog Dawn
Wild dogs are the 2nd most endangered carnivore in Africa (after the Ethiopian Wolf), and they are a true icon of wilderness. The pack is lead by an alpha male and female and they are on the move for 10 months of the year, covering vast tracks of the African bush. I wanted to capture the dog, not as an individual but as a family. The pack is after all a close-knit working unit that puts a lion pride to shame! I also wanted to capture the dogs on the move as that is how they live. A rising sun allowed me to shoot backlit and to capture in a single frame the awe and fascination that I have for these painted wolves of Africa.
King of the Mountains
The Drakensburg Mountain range separates South Africa from Lesotho and is appropriately called uKhahlamba in Zulu, which means the ‘Barrier of Spears’. The mountain range is home to huge birds of prey and draws photographers from afar, all seeking their own shot of a vulture in flight. I decided that I wanted to capture the smaller inhabitants of the uKhahlamba as well, and chose a chat as my personal giant. Using a remote trigger and a wide angle I waited three days for this shot.
Zebra in the Dust
The Zebra are wild and shy on the floor of Kenya’s rift valley. Approaching the water tentatively to within a few meters, they would then often turn and flee in paranoia, only to return minutes later. Ensconced in my blind with the blistering equatorial sun beating down and tsetse flies gorging on my flesh; sitting motionless became an extreme test of photographic passion. Ultimately, one brave zebra stuck his head through the dust for a sip of water. The rapid fire of my trusty old Nikon F100’s shutter had never sounded so sweet.
African Scops Owl
The call of this little owl is synonymous with the African night. Although vocal, the bird is no larger than your hand and its prey consists mainly of insects. The Scops Owl is a truly nocturnal predator and for this exposure I intentionally switched my flash off, and used a torch from the side to portray the silent hunter of the night.
There is nothing quite like an African thunderstorm! The sky darkens almost in an instant and cool refreshing winds gust across the plains. The mood fast becomes pensive and the light eerie. The beasts of the field fall silent, almost as if listening to the distant thunderous rumblings. If one stands on the great plains before such a storm, you can smell the rain and hear the gigantic raindrops pelting the African earth long before the storm arrives. On this particular afternoon, the storm looked especially fierce and while everyone headed back to our tented camp in Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve, I drove purposely out and onto the great plains. Taking this image, I felt truly alive!
For many years now, I have been trying to capture a striking image of a White Rhinoceros. I find them to be delightfully prehistoric and yet, very difficult to photograph. Many times I have photographed a rhino and my resultant image has represented a large grey rock! One afternoon and almost out of pure frustration, I focused on the eye of the beast and zoomed out while I took the photograph. Back in camp and reviewing the result, I was indeed pleased as for me, the image communicates some of the mystery and intrigue of this wonderful creature. The radial blur alludes to the rhino being a living dinosaur that has traveled through time, into our new millennium.
Lying on the bank of the Great Ruaha River in southern Tanzania, and playing with the manual focus of my lens, an entire world of bubbles presented itself. Waiting patiently for a hippo to surface in my frame, I hoped a crocodile was not including me in a frame of its own.
Frustrated in South Africa’s Kalahari Desert by the fact that there were only two roads to traverse, I decided to return to camp. There I joined two of the camp’s resident squirrels in their world and rolling around in the dirt for three hours, I suddenly felt alive again.
Circle of Life
Patience is a key ingredient to wildlife photography and a photographer is almost always rewarded for being patient in nature. On this particular day, I sat with a female Crab Spider until a bee landed on the flower. The spider then grabbed the bee and a tiny male ran onto her back. I had not seen him until just then! I recomposed the shot, but just as I was about to trip the shutter, two Jackal Flies then landed on the bee. These flies specialize on Crab Spider prey, feeding off the body juices spilt as she devours her meal. Before I knew it, I had four subjects and I was frantically fumbling for depth of field.
Golden Rhino Forest
For many years now, I have been trying to capture an image of the critically endangered Black Rhino (Dicerosbicornis), inside its forest habitat. These prehistoric beasts are not only globally threatened but are also of shy demeanor. I recently planned a photographic expedition, which I aptly title Operation Bicornis and my hopes were indeed high to start. On the first day however, my lens fell to the ground and I lost both the zoom and vibration reducing functionalities. To make matters worse, my prehistoric subject managed to successfully elude me for the entire trip! Feeling rather dejected, with my camp packed and on my way home in the early morning, I decided to take one last turn through the ancient fever tree forests. It was a magical scene; mist lingered in the predawn glow of the equatorial sun and the forests resembled something out of a children’s storybook. Just then, I spotted my photographic nemesis deep inside the forest interior and browsing on a fallen tree. I became so excited that I began shaking, a problem reticent of my younger years as a wildlife photographer. My shaking hands posed a slight problem as my VR (vibration reduction) was not working and the forest interior was so dark that my shutter speed sank to 1/50th of a second. Snuggling my lens deep into my trusty old beanbag, I tripped my shutter in the hope that I had managed to capture the surreal atmosphere of the golden rhino forest.
For me, the feeling of freedom is no greater than on the vast grass plains of the Serengeti. On this particular afternoon, a storm approached at dusk and the diffused equatorial sun bathed the golden plains in a soft magical light. A lone Acacia tree and an elephant added a much-needed dimension of scale. The elephant sniffed the approaching rain; I tripped my shutter and found myself once again awed by Africa’s beauty.
Young Bulls at Play
Young Bulls at Play: Young elephant bulls often wrestle with one another. This behaviour, while fun, is also very important to prepare the young males for the more serious fights that they will one-day face when they have to ward off other bulls for mating rights. A photograph is a moment caught in time and to illustrate the movement and energy of this particular moment, I chose a slow shutter speed.
King of the Plains
There are few subjects as stately as a male lion. We had photographed this superb specimen up close and he was indeed impressive. Equally impressive however, were the vast grass plains that surrounded him on every side. Choosing to zoom out, I wanted to capture my subject in context. Just then, a breeze picked up from the east, blowing his mane slightly west and tripping my shutter, I knew that this was the image I had been after.
The obvious shot was to position in front of this male lion with the light coming from behind? I chose however, to rather shoot into the rising sun, in an attempt to shoot a familiar subject in an unfamiliar way. As the lion stared at the rising sun, I could not help but wonder what was going through his mind?
Thank you for taking the time to browse my wildlife photography portfolio!
African wildlife prints for sale, African wildlife prints canvas, African wildlife prints art
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