The sun has just set after another blissful day in this piece of remote wilderness. In front of me is a life-giving waterhole in a harsh land, where a myriad of animals came to quench their thirst during the heat of the day.
One animal was still thirsty, though, and for some reason he had waited until everyone was gone and he could have the waterhole to himself. I first notice him emerging from the treeline behind me – a phantom in the dusk light.
He takes note of the human presence in his path, and swerves slightly to make his way around my position towards the water. He is an experienced old warrior, the signs of many battles etched on his face and in his ears.
He sports a defense weapon that is in high demand by certain misinformed members of my species – and that makes him a constant target. Does he know this? I doubt it. At least in this remote corner of Africa, he is safe at this particular moment as I am watching him approach, watching him emerge from the shadows.
As he scuffles towards the water, dust kicked up lingers, and all the way he seems to be “emerging” from the dust and the fading light, like a ghostly apparition. He moves very quietly for an animal of his bulk and stature.
The light is gone. I can barely make out his shape. I dial in a very slow shutter speed to limit my ISO to within the 4000-6400 band, which I know my camera can handle with aplomb.
I grab a few photos, being careful to pan lightly with him as he moves (given my slow shutter speed). Then I put the camera down and enjoy the moment. So many wildlife photographers these days forget to merely enjoy the moment, being so caught up in grabbing that “winning photo”.
We need to admire once again what drove us to take cameras on safari in the first place…We need to maintain our respect for the natural world, instead of pushing too deeply into the natural rhythms and disturbing out subjects for “the shot”.
We need to view our subjects like we first viewed them, through the eyes of awestruck children…We need to emerge as a driving force in raising awareness for the wildlife we love photographing, and to do that, we need to let go of our narcissism and egos.