Behind the Frame: A Portrait of Death

Andrew Beck Andrew 5 Comments

Kills are never an easy scene to photograph or capture. Blood and guts dripping from the jaws of a savage predator very seldom leave one’s audience wanting to come back for more… Those that do, well…. yeah.

Its a harsh reality of life in the bush though and is without a doubt a part of the story that we as wildlife photographers need to capture in order to tell a complete story.

During our recent wildlife photography seminar at Sabi Sabi we were fortunate enough to spend some time with two male lions that had killed a buffalo bull.

Even before we pulled into the sighting that night i had started to think about what images would be on offer and we very quickly got the standard side, and backlit images that photographers often dream of.

What I didn’t expect was this..

A Portrait of Death

Canon 5D MKIII, 70-200mm F2.8 @ 200mm and F3.5, ISO 2500, 1/125

Side lighting from a second vehicle illuminated the scene perfectly, deep dark shadows of death punctuated only by the gaping mouth of the buffalo bull and a clump of Digitaria sp. grass.

We could even go deeper down the artistic rabbit hotel here and say that the image portrays the cycle of life as the death of a buffalo bull is juxtaposed against the life of the grass, ironically the substance which supported the life of the buffalo bull in the first place.

Hmmmm, maybe a touch too deep?

Regardless, for me, this tells the story of the kill and trumps many of the other images on offer that evening.

Sometimes the most compelling aspects of a story are not the most obvious so keep an eye open for opportunities that may not be glaringly obvious when it comes to scenes like this.

About the Author

Andrew Beck

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Very few people can tell you what their passion in life is. Even fewer will be able to tell you that what they do for a living is in fact their passion. My love for the bush and conservation took me on journey which would not only allow me to explore the continent which fascinates me so much, but to share my passion for photography and conservation with others. Be sure to check out my my website and instagram account.

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  2. Cliff Rossenrode

    The moment depicts the harshness and rawness of nature at work, in the wild. It is telling, an important reality of the wild, so I believe, therefor, it should be seen without being gory -ie without dramatising the suffereing. To me it is a good image, though I would like a little more shadow detail (or could it be my monitor?)….

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