Photography News | Issue 36 | absolutephoto.com
I hope that people are inspired to take control of their destiny – to make the most of their chances in life – that life is a gift Left Guests from the Russian icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov photographing their first emperor penguin. Left below Wildebeests crossing Mara Right “Zebra stallions fighting. You can see howworn the teeth of the older stallion are (right). He is ready to be chased away by the younger stallion.”
or an old bull buffalo and you may well find out just how much faster they can cover the ground than you can, and that when you run invariably you will trip over your own feet in panic. It is not the big cats you want to watch out for – they generally run off if they see a person moving towards them at a distance on foot. It is the hippo you bump into out of the water than can kill you, or a buffalo surprised in thick bush, or an elephant cow with a calf. I have been chased by most of Africa’s large animals due to my own incaution – and it leaves you very shaken and glad to be alive. What is your favourite image that you and your wife have taken? Lots of favourites. Angie’s winning image from the 2002 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition – Elephants drinking in the Luangwa River in Zambia (with grey heron) is a beautiful painterly image. And I like the wild dog chasing a wildebeest shot I took in 1986 – taken at 1/60sec to give the impression of speed and movement. Also the image of a very shy leopard peering up over a ridge taken in 1984 – it was on the cover of The Leopard’s Tale (1985) – and was shot in the days when even finding a leopardwas incredibly difficult let alone photographing one. What’s the nature picture that you wish you’d taken? I once lent my camera to a safari guest when I was a guide when their camera packed up. I figured that I would always have more opportunities and after all this was the guest’s safari of a lifetime. We saw everything you could possibly have wished for – rhino, elephants, a leopard when they were very, very tough to see, and then to top it all twohuge male lions stood up on their hind legs and let rip. Think Ali vs Foreman (the Rumble in the Jungle) – it only lasted for a few seconds, but was an amazing sight. The lady who I had lent my camera to was so frightened by the noise of the lions snarling and growling that she barely took any pictures she was terrified that the lionswere going to jump in the vehicle. She promised to send me copies of the pictures, but I never heard another word from her. And
I have never seen a scrap quite like that since. Angie had a camera malfunction when three male cheetahs were chasing a zebra foal straight towards her right down the barrel of her 500mm telephoto too – the shutter just froze and the camera wouldn’t focus or fire. Pure agony! Are there any images/animals you still want to create/capture? I gradually exhausted my passion for photographing lions, leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs, the great migration, Antarctic wildlife – to a point. There is always a new way of approaching familiar subjects. And Angie and I just love taking photographs of wildlife, people and dramatic landscapes. But right now, with the publication of the autobiography and Sacred Nature , which defines our personal philosophy in words and pictures we are just enjoying concentrating on conservation issues that are a priority for us – helping to work with people who are committed to ensuring a long-term future for the Mara-Serengeti. What camera do you use and what is your favourite lens? Angie and I have just tested the new Canon EOS-1DXMk II and love it – it has everything we need as wildlife photographers: 14 frames- per-second drive speed in Raw; expanded autofocus area and quicker, more accurate autofocus for tracking fast-moving subjects like birds on the wing or a cheetah running flat out; built-in GPS helps us to keep track of far ranging predators; high noise-free ISO capability that allows us to shoot in low light (we prefer ambient light rather than using flash – and big cats are often active in low light situations so this is a big help to us). The video is 4K with touchscreen autofocus. Just a brilliant camera. We both love the Canon EF100-400mm f/4.5/5.6L IS II USM zoom – pin-sharp, very flexible for composition, easy to handle with great IS, can be used with a 1.4x extender to boost it to a 140-560mm zoom – three lenses in one – and a must when we are traveling around the world and need to watch
our carry-on weight allowance for flights. Angie also loves the Canon EF600mm f/4L IS II USM telephoto and I often use the EF200- 400mm f/4L with built-in 1.4x extender for shooting from our 4x4 vehicle. Do you ever put the camera down and enjoy the experience? We often tell other people to do just that but rarely heed our own words of advice. We feel naked without our cameras. But we did recently take a seven-day holiday in the Maldives where photography took a back seat – for a fewdays. Trouble is you tend to see everything with the eyes of a photographer and our cameras and lenses are extensions of ourselves and howwe interpret the world. Other than an insight into your life, what else can readers learn from your book? I hope that people are inspired to take control of their destiny – to make the most of their chances in life. I hope that people realise that life is a gift. And that all of us have our demons and struggles, but that it is OK to admit to your faults and failings and weaknesses. That is how you conquer your fears, allowing you to live the life of your choice. It is terribly important to encourage children to be adventurous – to push themselves, to spend time outdoors exploring the natural world – to realise their connection to the environment. What’s next? There are lots of events taking place to help promote the autobiography and Sacred Nature . Another TV series perhaps in 2017; we just filmed a National Geographic/ Canon Australia special on our work as conservationists and photographers working in the Mara-Serengeti that airs towards the end of October as the first programme in series two of Tales by Light . We head to Australia for the launch of that in October and are keynote speakers at this year’s Wild Shots in Johannesburg on 22 October and Cape Town on 29 October in South Africa.
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