With World Elephant Day just behind us, I wanted to share with you how best to photograph elephants: some techniques and methods picked up over the years.
Taking images of large grey animated lumps can be tricky. To start, with we suggest you get down low, where you can aim your cameras up at these impressive beasts. This often gives you a background of the sky if you fill the frame, getting rid of an annoying white sky. If you push the exposure, you get some detail in the faces and use the light to reach into their eyes to see those expressions, or again, risk a blob against a perfectly exposed sky…
Elephants generally move at a sedate slow pace but don’t be deceived; they are actually moving fast, covering the ground in giant steps, so reducing the shutter speed and following them, turning the motion into a blur. This can often give your image ‘action’ where there is actually very little. If and when elephants challenge each other and fight, bring the shutter down even further and risk getting a frame of shapes and textures, which is really what elephants are anyway.
A close-ups of tusks and eyes, trunk hairs and details in a minimalistic way symbolises elephants really well. Mid shots aren’t so interesting, unless they are of action like an elephant charging or chasing lions or wild dogs. Mostly you should just have fun and experiment and don’t take a risky blurred shot as a serious failure…
One of the great, most immediate ways to be in the ‘live’ presence of elephants day and night is by visiting the live webcam at ol Donyo Lodge. Here larger elephant bulls visit the camp’s waterhole each day. Many people keep this live feed on all day in the office or homes as a window into the world of elephants and even to practice photographic framing for when they visit. I took the above and below screen shot image from the live stream.
Photography is part ‘capturing’ an image, part enjoying the creative process of ‘making’ an image, so the ‘rules’ are really only guidelines. Click on this live feed and see what’s happening now:
LIVE FEED LINK: