Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Wild Dog Ghost -Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana

This may be the shortest essay yet, as this months image is one that “just occurred” through a bit of playful experimentation- even if the sighting was pure bliss.

I was hosting a photo workshop at Mashatu through my company C4 Images and Safaris and we had just spent the last hours of the day photographing a pack of African wild dogs in glorious sunlight. The scene was perfect, with the dogs awake, alert and at times very curious, walking to within a few feet of our vehicle- perhaps attracted to the sound of the clicking shutters, as all of us composed and photographed away.

mashatu, photo workshop, wild dogs, wildlife images

After the sun had set, we watched the dog’s disappear into the mopane bush setting off on a fast trot. We drove off, content and happy and ready for a sundowner. It was here where we were chatting excitedly away about how stunning these dogs were to photograph when we noticed behind us, in an open plain some movement.

It was about 30 minutes after sun set, so the dusk was quite full, yet through it we saw 16 wild dogs trotting silently not 10 meters from us. They totally ignored us and trotted alertly past as we stood, stunned by the silence and the proximity of these charismatic creatures. I picked up my camera, aimed the lens and fired one frame. Being so dark, I knew the exposure would be long, so I just panned with the movement of the dog as it ran along.

This is the result. Probably not to everyone’s taste, but it brought back to me the same feeling as when I was there and the feeling of elation in seeing them so close and on foot. These ghosts of the dusk hour, shadowing through the bush portray to me a beautiful sense of movement and also reflect their conservation status, as they are critically endangered. To me it seemed a fitting metaphor.

It goes to show what playing around with a camera can produce- never a dull moment when you are prepared to push the boundaries and add another element to a scene.

Exposure information
Nikon D300 - 200-400mm
Exposure – f 4 Shutter Speed: 2 seconds
Exp. Comp. 0
ISO - 800
Flash - none
Exposure mode– Aperture priority, Metering Mode– Matrix
File type– NEF (RAW)
Focal length: 400mm
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