Natures Best Photography Awards

15 11 2013

Every year, thousands of photographers try their luck when entering the Natures Best Photography Windland Smith Rice Photographic Awards, and every year for the past five years, I have been in the mix trying my luck and entering images into the competition.  Finally, after reaching the final round of judging every year since I started entering, I have cracked the nod, and have had two images accepted into the awards.

The competition is based in Washington D.C. and the gallery housed in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum.  It attracted twenty four thousand entries from over fifty countries, making the going quite difficult.

The two images that were accepted are both quite special to me.  The first, the elephant’s trunk, is a shot I have tried to get for many years.  Getting a close up shot of the trunk is surprisingly difficult for a number of reasons.  The first is you have to get quite close.  Elephants are large and dangerous animals, so I needed to find one that was relaxed around vehicles, allowing me to sneak a camera nice and close.  Secondly, the trunk never really stops moving, so zooming in on the trunk, and trying to follow its unpredictable movements is a seriously tricky affair.  Lastly, the trunk is constantly in the grass/bushes/trees, so getting it to stand out from the surroundings requires a lot of luck.  After many years of trying/waiting/hoping, I got the right elephant on the right day, and it paid off.

The second image is of a small group of greater flamingos.  Again tricky, but for quite different reasons.  On this particular day, there were around five thousand flamingos walking through the shallow waters of the salt lake.  Separating a small group from the masses was nearly impossible.  Everywhere you aimed the camera there were more flamingos!  Another difficulty is that they all do the same thing, all the time, so finding a new perspective or a new shot was challenging.  Luckily for me, they started displaying and the shot seemed to compose itself.

It really is a great feeling to have your images accepted into such a huge competition, especially after putting in the time.  Lets hope the good luck continues!





An old friend returns

17 01 2013

For those of you who have been following my blog from the very beginning, you will know that it was started as a day to day recording of the adventures, and often mishaps, of the camera trap, (a device where the animal breaks an invisible beam that then triggers the camera), I had setup in various locations around the African bush.  If you are new to the blog, you now know how it started.  The blog has changed shape a little over the years, but the camera trap kept clicking away in the background, doing what it does best: providing a unique look into the African bush, often from right next to the animal it photographs.

 

I am delighted to let you know, that the BBC Wildlife Magazines website, found my camera trap images, and ran a gallery on their site, showcasing the photographs.  It is always rewarding and exciting to see your images presented on a site that carries such weight in the industry I work in.

 

I have many exciting stories from when I have been to set the trap up, or gone back to check the images, but I will leave you with the one that stands out the most to me.

I had stopped next to the river where the trap was set, grabbed my gear and started the hundred-meter walk to the traps secret location.  When I was about thirty meters away, I saw a female leopard standing on a small sand ridge directly above the trap.  She saw me at the same moment, and slinked off through the trap – success, I thought, and even better, I (sort of) got to see the trap in action! I waited twenty or so minutes to give the leopard time to leave the area (as surprises of that nature are not always fantastic), and made my way down to the trap with the excitement and expectation of a child on Christmas morning.  Slowly looking over the sandy ridge where the leopard was standing only a few minutes earlier, I was heart broken not to see the trap.  There were plenty of elephants footprints however, and tracks showing how they had kicked and dismantled the trap, literally to pieces.  Still upset over missing the leopard image, I went about finding the pieces of the trap.  They had been spread quite a distance down the riverbank, but I did find everything.  I think I muttered and moaned the whole way back to camp, thinking of new ways to outsmart the elephants, but it was all forgotten when I checked the images on the camera.

 

Have a look through the gallery below, and see if you can find the (final) image from that day!

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