How does one capture the essence of any moment out on the plains of Africa?
Can you do more than to simply point and shoot?
The answer is a definitive YES!
Your job as a photographer is to convey a sense of happening. You have to relay emotions felt on that day, within that defining moment.
If you are thinking “that’s not as easy as you think Marlon!”, you are exactly right. It is not easy. Hopefully what I am about to say will give you an idea of what I think about going into a definitive image…
As the rain started falling I knew there was an opportunity for a magical moment. The key is not only to identify it, but to do so before it actually happens. This is where an in-depth knowledge of your subject comes into play.
Mother cheetahs are extremely aware of what is happening around her and her family. After killing an adult female gazelle right out in the open she knew that they would be exposed for sometime as they hastily fed from the carcass. Her cubs are small and would be completely defenseless if surprised by lions or a leopard.
Every so often she would stop feeding in order to scour the surrounding landscape. The rain was falling hard by now and visibility was not great.
Then it happened…
Instead of dropping down to the ground to continue feeding, the mother cheetah hovered but for a second over her 5 cubs in a protective manner. I had slowed my shutter speed to 1/60th of a second. I wanted to slow the rain drops into streaks of light, adding drama to my scene. I had to be careful as I was holding my camera instead of resting on a beanbag. In these types of images you want your subject as sharp as possible. A ny additional movement from my side would render the image useless.
The result is striking.
A protective mother cheetah tenderly caring for her cubs not only by providing food, but also as a pillar of security.
I want to leave you with this…
Your technical proficiency and anticipation for the definitive moment as a wildlife photographer determines your influential reach. In a time where Africa and its natural tracts of land is under constant threat, this is something to give some thought to…
Marlon du Toit
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