20/06/2024

The Beautiful Elephants Of Africa: On Land And In The Water

I have been home from Africa for more than a month now and I have been swamped ever since. Lots of events to photograph in the Bay Area and lots of work to get caught up on. But Africa is still on my mind and I still have so many photos to go through. After having a year and a half of no travel and ʟɪᴛᴛʟᴇ to photograph, I am so happy to have all these new photos to share with you all. Today I would like to share many of my favorite elephant photos and stories, including an awesome elephant crossing in the Chobe River of Botswana. So…after not blogging for numerous weeks, lets get to it!

One of the things that people first notice when seeing elephants in the wild for the first time, is the way that the adult females protect the ʏᴏᴜɴɢsᴛᴇʀs. The youngest members of the group are most commonly found in the middle of the herds, making them slightly harder to photograph in plain view.

Luckily, there are still plenty of chances to photograph the ʟɪᴛᴛʟᴇ ones as they graze and move from one location to another. I love how this ʟɪᴛᴛʟᴇ ʏᴏᴜɴɢsᴛᴇʀ has its trunk touching mom’s back foot. Everyone on the trip was using a long zoom lens to capture their images. I was using the Canon R5 cameras with the Canon 100-500mm lens for all these photos.

I was sitting on the deck of my raised tent in Botswana when I saw this young elephant playing in the water. I grabbed my camera and had fun photographing this ʟɪᴛᴛʟᴇ one taking a bath and having a great time. Both of these images (above and below) were taken at the same time, along the marsh in my “backyard”.  I must have been watching at least 10 elephants from my deck at that moment.

Here is a wider shot of the young elephant playing as its mother was grazing in the nearby grass. I have always loved photographing elephants in the wild, because they do so many interesting things. Quite often we will see them ᴛʜʀᴏᴡɪɴɢ dirt and water on themselves to keep themselves cool. This always makes for great photos. As always, I kept my shutter speed at least 1/1000th of a second to freeze the action of the dirt in the air.

One of the highlights of this last sᴀꜰᴀʀɪ was watching large groups of elephants crossing from one piece of land to another, often submerging deep into the Chobe River. This was one of my favorite photos, with this “two-toned” elephant rising above the others.

We all watched as this mother found a shallow enough crossing for her ʏᴏᴜɴɢsᴛᴇʀs. I love this photo showing the one young elephant climbing on the back of another.For this photo, I isolated the two ʏᴏᴜɴɢsᴛᴇʀs as they made their way across the Chobe River. They are just too cute!

We also took the opportunity to pull the boat up close to shore to get nice photos of the elephants on dry land. We did spend one afternoon on a land sᴀꜰᴀʀɪ and had this one teenage male ᴄʜᴀʟʟᴇɴɢᴇ us. Check out the video above. It was an awesome experience. This did sᴄᴀʀᴇ one of our guests at the time, but at the end of the trip she confessed that this was the highlight of her trip!

Being low in the water and having the elephants above us on the land gave us a nice low perspective when photographing these magnificent giants head on. One of the photographic techniques I was teaching was high-key shooting. This is a technique where we purposely overexpose the photo to expose for the animal but blow out the background. This was perfect for converting our images into black and white.

People always ask me why I love photographing in Botswana, and I always tell them that it is a joy to photograph from a boat on the river. We are at the same level as our subjects and able to capture images of them in their environment. On our last evening on the Chobe River, I told our guide that I wanted to find an elephant on the shoreline so that we could get a photo of the animal with the sunset in the background. I ᴄʜᴀʟʟᴇɴɢᴇᴅ everyone to get a shot with the sun by the tusks or under the trunk. Everyone got a nice shot using this scene. It was the perfect way to end the day!

I hope you enjoyed the photos. If you have not been to Africa, you need to get there!! It is life changing.  We will be there next year and you can find information about upcoming trips here.

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