Wildscapes

As a writer, I tend to be a tad verbose -- I've never penned a noun that didn't require an adjective, a verb that couldn't be improved with a few ads.

As a photographer, I am enamored, infatuated, fixated and probably addicted to wildlife.  To me, there is nothing better than viewing wildlife in their natural environment.  It is simply too cool for words (which, of course, doesn't prevent me from trying).  

It is tempting to use a big lens to zoom in tight, reveal the flecks in a lion's eyes, the bulging shoulder muscles of a leopard, an elephant's eyelashes.

And there is nothing wrong with a nicely framed close up -- it can produce an intimacy that is hard to see with the naked eye.

But I sometimes find it wise to avoid this temptation.  The image I'm always looking for places the animal in its environment.  This is a much harder image to obtain than the intimate close up. First, like all landscapes, it requires great light and a beautiful setting.  Next, it requires an nicely posed animal -- not buried in the shade of a tree nor roasting in the heat of the sun.  And generally not pointing its butt toward my lens.  These images, when I happen upon them, almost invariably occur in the first hour after sunrise or the last hour before sunset.  This is the perfect time for a wide-angle lens, lots of depth-of-field, and a prayer for a willing representative of the local wildlife.

I captured this image a couple of years ago in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania.  A light layering of clouds softened the light as mother and child wandered into the scene maybe 20 feet from our truck. The light wasn't awesome (it was nearer noon than sunrise) but the skies were dramatic and the elephants a beautiful rich brown from a recent bath in the nearby river.  

It is images like this one that I call "wildscapes"  -- part landscape, part wildlife portrait.  On any given photo tour, I'm lucky if I capture one or two of these images, but I never stop looking!

- Mike