A sense of Mana

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I have just returned from hosting a Wild Eye photographic safari to a place that is cemented more and more firmly as my favourite piece of African wilderness after every visit. I thought of calling this photo “a sense of place”, but it could actually only be one place, and that’s Mana Pools…hence “a sense of Mana” felt more apt.

I don’t often get to use my wide-angle lenses in a wildlife context. You have to get really close to the animals, and you have to be able to shift your perspective and composition almost without barriers…and photographing from a vehicle just restricts you in those terms. Being on foot with the wildlife of Mana Pools is a totally different story, though. Many of the elephants are very relaxed around humans if you behave in the appropriate way and approach them in the right way (a qualified guide is recommended).

On this afternoon as the sun set in a hazy sky over the Zambezi river, our group was able to get close to a young male as he fed from the pods that are falling from the albida trees at this time of year. I let the landscape photographer in me dictate what I was doing here – working with the starburst of the sun peeping around the edge of the closest tree, and framing wide to provide a sense of context and place. For me, these images speak louder than full-frame portraits of your subject. I like the idea of reducing the animal from the main subject to just one of the elements in a scene that is all about the essence of the place you are visiting…where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.

This image is a single exposure, captured while crouching to obtain a lower perspective relative to the earth and the trees, without losing the sense of the Zambezi river in the background. The elephant was quite close, but the focal length belies that in the distortion/perspective.  What do you think?

Techs:
Nikon D800
Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8
f22 | 1/160 SS | ISO-4000

A sense of Mana

I cannot more highly recommend this destination for the serious African wilderness aficionado and wildlife photographer. No other place feels quite the same after a visit to Mana! Our 2015 safaris to Mana Pools have now been extended to 5 nights, and return charter flights between Harare and Mana Pools are also included, as getting there by road from Harare just takes too much time that could rather be spent in the field (it’s an all day affair if you have to be driven to Mana).

Thanks for reading! Have a pleasant day, friends.

Morkel Erasmus

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Morkel Erasmus

I used to relish writing these kinds of “bio” pieces and would flaunt the odd impressive word and use dashing grammar to make it sound like I am a boundary-shifting photographer. These days I prefer stating it in much simpler ways, much more relatable ways, much more believable ways… The fact of the matter is this: I love Africa. I love its people, its wild places and its wildlife. I love being immersed in these places, observing and photographing the fall of light on the land and the daily lives of the creatures that call it home, and presenting the results to whoever will take a look. To me, nature photography is all about being in the moment, and capturing that moment in a way that can relate to someone who didn’t have the privilege of being there with me. Sometimes I am able to capture a unique vision of the scene before me, and sometimes I just capture it the way most folks would according to classical photographic guidelines. Yet I always enjoy sharing the images and experiences and imparting the knowledge I have, both in-the-field and later online or in presentations, workshops and courses. I also just simply enjoy capturing and sharing the beauty of God's creation! The greatest thing I’ve found about wildlife and nature photography in Southern Africa is the unity and familiarity of the community of people that share this passion. We come from all walks of life and all cultures and backgrounds, yet our passion for our natural heritage and our dream to see it preserved for future generations binds strangers together and fuels conversations around campfires long after other people have run out of conversation and energy. Join me on a WildEye adventure to experience this sharing community spirit and learn to anticipate that fleeting moment and be ready for it, learn to immerse yourself in the experience without losing focus of your photographic goals…and above all, learn to see Africa anew… because there are none as blind as those who look but do not see!

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Morkel Erasmus

Since picking up a DSLR camera for the first time, a little over 3 years ago, Morkel has been invigorated with an unbridled passion for the photographic art form. He has grown at a tremendous pace and put immense energy into the creation of his images. He absolutely loves spending time in the wild places of his native Southern Africa. From a young age he has been visiting legendary wildlife and outdoor locations, including the Kruger Park National Park and the Drakensberg Mountains, with his family. Now that he has found a way to share the natural beauty of his homeland with the rest of the world he is regularly out on photography trips. An Industrial Engineer by profession, and an accomplished artist in genres like music and poetry, Morkel has always enjoyed whatever allows him to express his creativity to the fullest. Photography turned out to be the perfect "marriage" between his engineering brain and artistic soul. "I hope that in some way I can raise awareness through my imagery of the plight of not only our wildlife but also the fragility of the last remaining wilderness areas that they call home.” Morkel was recently honoured for his commitment to his craft by receiving a "Highly Commended" for one of his images in the 2010 BBC Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. He is based in Mpumalanga, South Africa and even though he prefers going on safari with his family and friends, Morkel also leads the odd photographic safari and has recently begun presenting workshops in post-processing techniques.

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