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National Geographic Prints:
‘Africa’ is an evocative collection of National Geographic images arisen from one artist’s passion for the wide spaces of Africa and the spirit of freedom that they embody. Unique in that the photographer has purposefully taken a step back, spending weeks, months and even years waiting for that decisive moment - to capture Africa in context. This National Geographic photography collection includes pieces from some of Africa’s most iconic landscapes, but as is true of all National Geographic photographers, this body of work also offers a spellbinding journey to remote and seldom photographed wildernesses. Whether it is a Black Rhino browsing in an equatorial forest or Ground Squirrels foraging on the desert floor of the Kalahari, the collection portrays ordinary African subjects captured in an extraordinary way.
Join wildlife photographer and 8th generation African, Greg du Toit as he takes you on a journey beyond the dynamic chaos and into the strange serenity that has drawn explorers and adventures to Africa’s shores for centuries….
‘The Ngorongoro Crater lies in northern Tanzania and forms part of Africa’s Great Rift Valley. The crater is unique in that it is completely surrounded by steep volcanic walls. This is indeed nature’s own self-contained ecosystem and the view from the crater rim is hard to describe; it is even harder to photograph. I stood on the edge and tried my best to open a window to this marvelous panoramic spectacle…’
‘Ironically, wildlife photographers are often cooped up in vehicles or sitting motionless in blinds. For this image however, I was on foot and stalked my subject, keeping low to the ground. Photographing a wild animal unobtrusively is the purest form of wildlife photography and for me also the most rewarding...’
‘Of all the subjects that I regularly photograph, lion are by far the laziest! They spend about 18 hours out of every 24 hour period fast asleep. Subsequently, I have spent countless hours waiting for lions to wake up! This particular lion, we had already spent two hours with, patiently waiting for him to stir. Finally, in the late afternoon he began to show signs of life! While waking, lion fancy grooming themselves, enjoying a series of mighty yawns in the process…’
(For this exposure, I framed my subject with sufficient space left in the top of the frame, in anticipation of the lion yawning. So much of wildlife photography hinges on knowing your subject’s behaviour. A shutter speed of 1/1600th of a second was more than sufficient to freeze the action while a moderate aperture of F5,6 allowed me to blur the background)
‘The stage is always set on the great plains of Africa, and all that is needed is patience. The triangular shape of the tree in the foreground, repeated again by the shape of the grove, is what drew me to this particular landscape. I waited for a herd of zebra to pass by, trying desperately to compose a frame. The last equine in the herd paused for a moment and glanced back across the plain. If animals are a part of the landscape then I always try to include them…’
‘Tarangire National Park lies in northern Tanzania and is home to vast numbers of elephant. In the predawn glow we followed this individual and by placing the rising sun behind my subject, I was able to create this silhouette. I like shooting silhouettes as they allow me to simplify the natural world into mere shapes and colours. As a wildlife photographer, I often find myself trying to extract the bear essentials out of a scene. The old adage of ‘less is more’, holds true to my work…’
Young Elephant Bull
This young Elephant bull was enjoying splashing about in the water when suddenly he turned and gave us a mock charge. Young bulls are prone to do this as they practice flexing their muscles for future years. In such instances, wildlife photographers must have an intimate understanding of their subject’s behaviour, and must remain composed. Most importantly; a photographer, in such moments, must remember to always keep shooting! To start the vehicle would only have aggravated the situation…’
‘In Kenya’s Amboseli National Park, the elephants journey each morning across the dry dusty lake bed, after having spent the night foraging in the surrounding bushlands. The purpose of their journey is to quench their desperate thirsts in the freshwater swamps located at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. My intention here was to place my subjects in context; to dwarf the largest land mammal on the planet at the base of the largest freestanding mountain in the world…’
‘It is not often that I travel to a location with one absolute definitive frame in mind, but the success of my safari to Zululand hinged on this one single, yet simple frame. The exhilaration of staring deep into the eye of such an incredible creature, and transcending the all too familiar barrier that separates man and beast, will remain a definitive moment for me…’
Lake Natron Reflections
‘Every visit to Lake Natron in northern Tanzania is different. On this particular afternoon a storm swept in from the east, lifting dust and exciting a thin band of flamingoes on the distant horizon. Black volcanic rock strewn in the foreground bears witness to the surrounding hills once being virulent volcanoes. In the distance, Mount Shompole…’
Stork at Dawn
‘My favourite time of year in Tanzania’s Rauha National Park is September; when the Great Ruaha River is reduced to a trickle and isolated hippo pools inadvertently trap shoals of unsuspecting fish. Waiting patiently in the pre-dawn light, the sound of crocodile jaws smacking the water furiously in an attempt to snap up fish, can be heard echoing down the river. When the first rays of dawn pierce the horizon, the Yellow-billed Storks begin frantically trawling for fish. This individual succeeded in catching a catfish and proceeded to swallow its sashimi meal whole…’
Zebras in the Wilderness
‘I discovered an ancient wilderness in southern Tanzania; a place where the bush is rank and the trees tall. A place where the animals are shy and the tsetse flies bold. A place that had never before been photographed and that demanded patience. One early morning I surprised a herd of zebra in a clearing just as a shaft of light penetrated the dark wilderness…’
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©Copyright. Greg du Toit Safaris & Photographic. 2013