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.

Nikon D3s | Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II | f4.0 | 1/60 SS | ISO-4500

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.


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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!

Vanished - Megascops Choliba by Jose Garcia Allievi

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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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