26 August 2009

On photo assignment in Zambia

We're back in Johannesburg again. The last two weeks we have been on an assignment for two lodges in Zambia, and we had a fabulous time. We had photographed for this lodge before for the Wild Romance book, and they asked us back for some additional shots for their new brochures. We made some new shots of an existing room and some of a very new one that they were still building when we were there.

All the time that we were there, there were either elephants in the camp, or very nearby. One afternoon Daniëlla and the lodge manager had a relaxed chat on the verandah when an elephant walked by and briefly stopped to check them both out. They sat there motionless without making a sound to not to disturb the animal in any way, and after a few seconds it moved away again - a truly breathtaking experience.

Also part of the assignment, was to photograph a walking safari. This is one of the many cool things you can do in this area, and definitely not something you can do in most other African parks. Marsel wanted to photograph an elephant standing underneath one of the typical big trees, with a small group of people at a safe distance in the background. Photographing an elephant is one thing, but to photograph one with people in it is quite something else. We used two vehicles; one with Marsel in it and a guide, and one with the 'actors.' The idea was to have four people in the shot: two tourists, a guide and a security guard. We drove around the area, searching for elephants, preferably standing in good light and eating from a big tree. When we found one, Marsel would take position and direct the other vehicle to the spot where he wanted the people in the frame. He would then make the composition while the four actors would get out of their car and slowly and quietly walk into the shot. Obviously, with wild animals it is very important to keep a safe distance - both for the people and for the animal. By using a long lens Marsel was able to compress the perspective, pulling the animal and the people closer together in the shot.

To get a good shot was not easy to say the least. It takes time to find a good potential shot and then to all get into the right position, and by the time everything was set, the elephant was already starting to walk away or decided to turn around for a nice butt-shot. We eventually got the 'money shot' not far from our camp. A large elephant was feeding from a large tree and was not in a hurry to move - we gratefully took advantage of that!


Anonymous said...

I think the elephant in the photograph at Chiawa Camp (or Old Mondoro)is Lumpy. He has a lump on the left side of his rump or is it part of his ear, that you see sticking out?
I love your photographs. Got interested in your site because Cumings used this photograph as the Chiawa Christmas Greeting Card this year, mentioning the photographer.
Greetings, Thelma van den Hoonaard

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