Many locations and events in corporate photography involve spending time within wildlife areas.
Over the years this has offered an opportunity to photograph a variety of wild animals in various contexts. Latterly, however, avian photography has captured my imagination and - aside from having to learn about the various target species I wish to capture so that I am better able to predict their behaviour - there is the logistical challenge of getting to vantage points where you can get a shot of a bird in its natural element and deliver something different to the run of the mill perched, static portrayal.
As for larger game, visits to do corporate work at various lodges and parks permit the odd shot of whatever game is predominant in the area. This is a private, self-motivated pursuit recently taken up whenever time and location has allowed. The images on this page will be updated on an irregular basis depending on what photographs have recently been captured and which I believe are worth sharing for the pure pleasure of appreciating the beauty of the animal in the frame.
The two images shown here are the result of a rare circumstance. Firstly, Marshall Eagles are not normally found on the Tropical East Coast of South Africa but are not totally un-known in the vicinity. Seeing one is, therefore, a rare experience in this region. I was, however, in the right location - on a cliff approx 1100m AMSL in the Valley of 1000 Hills, KwaZulu-Natal, and the idea was to capture a half decent shot of the Yellow-Billed Kites which frequent this particular precipice.
The Kites show-off their gliding abilities in the late afternoons when the wind coming up the valley permits them to hover - sometimes almost motionless - for long periods before they swoop down on rodents or other meals below.
Luckily I had a suitable perch where I was not deemed a threat. While watching the Kites, a far larger bird floated into the area. The reaction of the Kites was to protect their hunting area but this involved more display than attack - after all the Marshall is far larger and heavier, the 5th largest Raptor in the Eagle family - and the Kites were obviously not stupid enough to take on the intruder directly.
The Marshall eagle simply ignored the fuss and floated about serenely while it kept a sharp look out for dinner. The contrast between the expression and body language of the Kite and the serene alertness - but relatively unperturbed attitude of the Eagle is interesting. Sadly, however, they never came close enough to one another at a reasonable distance to be in the same frame for a good photograph.
Sometimes assignments at game ranches provide unexpected opportunities on the drive to and from the accommodation camps. The photo of the Zebra and her foal was taken during the mid winter while on one such assignment - early morning light and dry grass provided a lovely atmosphere for their quiet contemplation of the humans a few hundred meters away.
If you are an African there is something magical about this continent which is not quite matched elsewhere - even on the Prairie or in the Outback. Africa has a unique smell - especially after a thunderstorm and the mix of lighting one can encounter - such as with the photograph taken on the Savannah below with thunderclouds on the horizon but sunlight piercing the air on the hillside but with the hill behind the shooting location casting a shadow over the valley with the giraffe - is difficult to find elsewhere. The photograph epitomises Africa for me - endless vistas, drama in the sky, beauty in the wildlife and mile after mile of deserted tracks leading to interesting places which you can only learn about if you actually follow them.
LITTLE BROWN (OR YELLOW) JOBS
A supreme challenge that teaches patience is to attempt the photography of small Finch sized birds. They flit rapidly from one perch to the next and they are normally too small for the focus system to pick up accurately (irrespective of the camera you use - from EOS1Ds to D3s - have tried them all) - especially if you are at a range where they usually take fright and fly away - about 50 meters or so. The shot below was taken at the Tala reserve in KwaZulu-Natal early one morning and was at the extreme of range of a 600mm lens. Even at 5 frames per second he was there for only 2 shots before flying away again. Perhaps the Kite up above had something to do with his nervousness...