What do YOU think of this image?

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry 52 Comments

After a long, long day I’m sitting at home with a glass of red wine staring at an image.

I’ve been staring at it for quite some time now.

Edit a little.

Sit back.

Have a sip of wine.

Stare some more.

There is something about this image that really intrigues me.

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography

I just cannot put my finger on exactly on what it is about the image that speaks to me but I know I like it.  It has something that pulls me in and keeps me there and that just feels right.  I knew it when I clicked the shutter but now, sitting here with my glass of red, it really seems to come alive and show me the essence of the moment.

So now I want to ask YOU to help me.

Yes, you!

Whatever your level of photographic experience, wherever in the world you are, whether you have commented on the blog before or not I would love to hear what YOU think of this image.

Pour yourself a glass of red wine, or whatever other type liquid creativity does it for you, sit back and after taking a nice long look at the image leave me a comment with your thoughts on the image.

But you have to sit and just look at it for a while first.

Allow your eyes to run free across the frame and only then share your thoughts.

I know there are a lot of you out there who read the blog but do not always comment and that’s great.  It’s awesome to have you along for the ride and I truly hope you enjoy the content we put out but this once, just this one, I would like to ask you to take a few moments and share your thoughts with me by leaving a comment below.  Look at the image and then tell me what you think, what you really think.

This image speaks to me so whatever your thoughts, whatever the image makes you feel, I would love to hear from you!

Gerry van der Walt 

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Comments 52

  1. Samuel Cox

    I like it, mainly because it has an energy about it. It looks like there was something very close in the foreground (I could be completely wrong about this…) that we’re hiding behind and just peeking over to get a glimpse at the young and heavily protected Elephant who is enjoying drinking and splashing.

    That’s just my thoughts though – a lot of people I know would crop to remove that blur at the bottom but I feel it’s what adds that extra dynamic to it – it’s key to telling the story above. Whether that’s the intended story or not, I don’t know – but that’s what I’ve taken away from it.

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      Gerry

      Thanks Sam! Appreciate the comment and awesome that you picked up on the foreground. There was something in the front – rocks I think – and I kept in intentionally!

  2. Michelle Guillermin

    I think the mix of the organic materials that are similar, but so different causes you to pause and really focus on what is going on. The logs have the same look and feel as the elephants’ hide.

    then, as you look further, you realize (and its not initially obvious) that the elephants are crossing into the water — I actually noticed the baby’s splash only after I deciphered which were elephant legs and which were logs.

    That then draws your eye to the elephant on the right, stepping into the frame.

    The photo doesn’t allow you just to accept what is taking place – it asks you to participate.

    My 2 cents!

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      Gerry

      Michelle, thanks so much. I LOVE this line… “The photo doesn’t allow you to just accept what is taking place – it asks you to participate!” Absolutely beautiful!!

  3. derekevens

    Hi Gerry, That stump (leadwood it looks like), these Ellies have an affinity to that dead tree, two of them touching it, possibly affectionately? Love to see the other comments, oh! by the way red for me! have a good day.

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  4. Jodi Belinski

    I think this is a lovely image, a little playful with the splash but the family together does give a sense of intimacy/affection.

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  5. Debra wortman

    i love the big splash of water that the baby elephant created by throwing his trunk into the water. They are so cute at that age because they don’t really know how to use their trunks well. Love it. Beautiful image.

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  6. Gavin

    Hi Gerry… Must admit at first it didn’t grab me, but once you look at it “properly” there is so much going on… As you look more you notice more!! The leading lines, the splash, the eye, the out of focus frame…. And repeat… Starting to get dizzy!!! Great different shot….

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      Gerry

      Thanks Gavin and yes, I felt exactly the same! Initially I actually skipped over it in my LR catalog but kept on coming back to it and only after looking at it for a while it starting speaking to me! 🙂

  7. Deeda Parton

    It’s the expression of expectation on the elephants’ faces. It draws you in. You want to see what they are looking at so intently! What is it about the water that’s got them so fascinated?

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      Gerry

      The herd approached the water at uiqte a speed and was very keen to have a drink. That intensity made for some great scenes, like this one, so that must be there focus! Thanks a lot for the comment Deeda! 🙂

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      Gerry

      Thanks for the comment Jeff. I can assure you that the elephants, in Madikwe, are quite happy and the way the particular reserve is managed keeps them quite stress free from the normal issues that can arise from badly managed tourism activities. Also, I photographed this from an underground hide so, at least in this instance, they did not even know we were there! 🙂

  8. Wendy

    I love it. The way the baby is playing with the water, surrounded by mom and older family members is so touching. Sometimes you get photos that tell a great story despite the fact that they are not as technically perfect as you would like, but I like photography more for the storytelling than for the art.

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      Gerry

      Couldn’t agree more Wendy! Photography should be about telling stories regardless of how technically correct the image is. THAT is why I think this image speaks to me. There are actually a lot of things wrong with it – technically speaking – but it really captures the moment!

  9. Adnan

    Hey Gerry,

    At first, it also didn’t grab my attention – but something was there that lured me in.

    There is so much happening with such commotion, but it is all made calm and quiet by the blurred foreground – that’s what I feel.

    The tight crop, the tree trunk (no pun intended!) that looks like an elephant’s leg, the calves with adults surrounding them, and that splash captured at the perfect moment, all adds to the image.

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      Gerry

      Love how you describe the way you ‘read’ the image. It’s always great to hear WHY someone like an image and not just that they like it. There is so much we can learn from each other by doing this! Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts Adnan!

  10. Alison Ross

    50 shades of grey? Well not quite, but I love the way each ellie is a completely different shade from the other. I also see a lot of texture coming through. The way the white tusks pop and the frozen water splash & droplets….. And the way the log pulls your eye into what’s happening in the background.

  11. Dee Roeofsz

    Awesome photo & to me captures the “organised chaos” amongst elephants that is often present when they get to a watering point.

    I see the story of a small family group in the photo. The excitement of the little one getting to drink & play after a long walk, the younger siblings either side, one more protective of the little one, the other stepping on the log – a more rebellious sibling wanting to get in on the action any which way & balancing on the log to stay steady from the pushing & shoving, the always present mother overseeing the family – here behind the baby with her trunk protectively touching it & supporting the little one.

    I love the low angle across the water, it makes you feel part of the action.

  12. Jennifer

    Great moment captured Gerry!

    My opinion is I feel slightly sad staring at the image. No its not all the red wine I had to drink before commenting..

    Elly’s rely on water for survival, so all the older elly’s seem to be occupied with drinking and relaxing as water to yhe elders are important, even the young adult elly seems to be quite happy just drinking, while the little elly is enjoying the experience of what water does! Isn’t that so childlike?

    Everything to little ones can be made fun. Makes me wish I could be young and carefree again.

    Life has become so serious. We should respect what we have but still try to enjoy the carefree moments life gives us!

    Once again, absolutely fantastic moment captured!

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      Gerry

      Thanks Jennifer! Yes, very very childlike and that’s probably why we connect with these animals on such a special level. Appreciate the comment and yes, I know I still owe you an email! 😉

  13. Alison Fordham

    This looks like a family having a drink and some down time together. I have watched a similar scene in Etosha where the different aged youngsters communicate and tend each other, socialising and enjoying being together. Elephants are so interesting to watch.

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  14. nelin

    your blog caught my attention.. never blog before.. on FB I make little comments on my friends shots.. I am not a photographer.. Love to take photos as a hobby and probably not good at it. But my take on this is.. these elephants seem to be thirsty, needed water.. and I can see there is not much water to be had.. and I can see the older elephants gave the chance to the little guy to have the water.. There is so much love in this picture..

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  15. nelin

    Love!! the bigger elephants gave the little elephant the chance to drink .. I can see that that there is not much water to be had.. It shows that the older elephants are not greedy… what a beautiful shot…

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  16. Laurette Theron

    A beautifil and heartwarming image. The baby elephant playing with the water makes it very special and I love the framing of how only some of the adult elephants are included into the frame
    Would love to see this image in monochrome.

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  17. Richard Steyn

    Hi Gerry
    Awesome shot there , like how you used the low angle to your advantage , there’s a lot in focus/going on so your eyes really take in the whole image . High f stop if I’m correct is the right term ?
    Like the elephants interaction and how you captured it , a fairly young elephant not surely knowing how you use its trunk creating the action in the centre followed up by the size order ? Quite a young one followed by a slightly older one then the main group in the background , protecting the young ?
    After all a very creative and well captured picture .

    Thanks for all the hard work behind the scenes to make this blog happen , love it and the LR tutorials are always a winner , definitely deserves a lot of credit !!

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      Gerry

      Thanks Richard! Glad you are enjoying the content on the blog. Let us know if there is anything you want to see more of. 🙂

      The f-stop on this image was f/4 and I was only able to get all the ellies (relatively) sharp due to the fact that they are quite close top each other. Love the comments on the image. Thanks!

  18. Robert Sayialel

    Hi Gerry.

    At the risk of sounding like an amateur, that dead tree does really catch my eye. It(dead tree) perfectly fit into the picture and almost having the same texture and colour as the elephants. Even more it looks like an extinct animal with large protruding eyes and a trunk resembling of an elephant. An Elephant pre-evolution maybe? I also love the effect of the water after what it seems like the baby ele tapped the water. Overall, beautiful spot with the tree and perfect timing.

    I love Elephants and love photography. They are my favourite animals.

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      Gerry

      The dead tree does form a very interesting part of the frame and seems to have caught many people’s attention. Love the way you read the image and thanks a lot for your comment! Oh and yes, ellies are awesome! 😉

  19. Conrad Walker

    Hi Gerry, this is indeed an evocative image. For me, the intimation of the surprise of the little ellie at the splash his trunk is making is the central feature. The casual foot resting on the log adds to the almost nonchalant demeanour of the group, almost like a family on a Sunday picnic. All in all, the complexity of the image is a big part of its appeal – one really needs to contemplate it over a glass of Chivas to really absorb its meaning. Great shot!

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  20. Rosemary Walker

    Hello Gerry, I find myself focusing on to the little Ellie on the left in your lovely picture. One reason I think it is so special is the clarity of his/her eye. Draws me in, makes me want to know more about how life is experienced for a small elephant, what is he/she thinking.
    Thank you for this picture and for all the other opportunities you have provided for observing.

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      Gerry

      Thanks for your comment Rose. A glass of Chivas… love it!! 🙂 Great seeing you on the blog and look forward to spending more time out in the field with you and Conrad.

  21. Catherine

    I am sorry Gerry, I am a great fan of your photography but I don’t love this image. It has potential but it is not there for me. The log is cluttering the image possibly. I can feel the image and what is happening. Any of us who have had the privilege to watch herds of elephants will have seen the pushing and shoving, heard the noise, felt the ground tremble a bit. Sorry.. C

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      Gerry

      No need to say sorry Catherine. I think the potential you mention is what stopped me and made me look at it again and again. From that point on each of us will read the image differently and end up focusing on different aspects within the frame. Thanks a lot for your input. Greatly appreciated! 🙂

  22. David Rosenzweig

    Hi Gerry,
    I have never commented before so I just wanted to introduce myself. My name is David and I am a 16 year old wildlife photographer, from America, who has been fortunate enough to spend some time in the African wilderness. First off, I wanted to comment that this image is fantastic. I have been reading your blogs for a while now and have learned that one of the most important things to do in wildlife photography is to tell a story. If nothing else, that is exactly what this image is doing. It conveys a tone of innocence; it shows how in a chaotic world where there is still room for play. Although they herd is getting a drink, it appears to me that the little guy has decided to have a bit of a playtime. This innocence is what makes the image for me.

    Additionally, I wanted to comment on the amazing variety of textures and patterns seen throughout the image. The contrast between the lead-wood and the ellies gives a very cool effect and the way in which the water marks are scattered about the young ellie is quite interesting.

    Awesome pic Gerry, can’t wait to see more!!

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      Gerry

      Hi David and thanks for your comment! Great to have you along for the ride! Innocence is definitely one of the themes that popped up in my mind so glad you picked it up. Appreciate your input and hope to see some of your images at some stage!

  23. Michelle Clair

    It is a photo of a water-splash, right? 😀 love that water splash, with the elephant background, and the water wood with elephant characteristics.. a most impressive capture of many elements, –little photo artworks that make up a most interesting whole!

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  24. Dinah Beaton

    Hello Gerry,
    This is a very interesting approach to getting the viewers to study a photo like this rather than just look and move on – as you initially did when going through your collection.

    And I say interesting with good meaning because we do this every day. We are all too busy being busy that we don’t stop to appreciate little moments just like this one you have captured that happens all around us in every aspect of our lives which we sadly simply pass by.

    So to me, as an artist and photographer this beautiful photo has made me stop and study it carefully and discover little gems within – like the way the setting sun just dips in and illuminates the water, the absolute interconnected trust within this group and the powerful and contented bond between them.
    Thank you for posting this and throwing it out there for our thoughts
    Dinah Beaton

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      Gerry

      Hi Dinah. Thanks so much for your comment. Taking time to look at and truly appreciate images, both our own and other people’s, is not only a great way to get in touch with the deeper stories in the frame but it also gives the due respect to the image and photographer. 🙂 Thanks!

  25. Nancy Moon

    I just love the baby elephant playing, the splashing of the water. Now that I’ve been on one of your safaris, I am beginning to see what it takes to have the water frozen in space. I’m still working on the panning….will focus on that during my next safari with you :).

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