Thirst of a Kudu

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The sound of a francolin’s call fills the air – air which is crisp with chill, fresh as only a new day in a remote piece of African bush can be. The sky is painted the hue of a delicate rose. It’s dawn, that magical time of day when the bush comes alive, when everything is on alert, when the crimson sun is not yet beating down relentlessly on the dusty earth…

A herd of graceful and beautiful Greater approach the waterhole. Gregarious, as they ever are, big radar ears scanning around for the slightest hint of danger. There are young ones in this herd, and there’s no bull present, so the ladies must be vigilant indeed!

I sit motionless, my head, shoulders (and my camera of course) sticking out of a manhole made in the top of an underground concrete research bunker at this specific waterhole. I have been sitting here for a while so the Kudus have no idea I am here – unless I chase them away by moving suddenly.

As they approach the water, I gently move my camera and lens in their direction by shifting its orientation on the beanbag I am using for support. The light is very low, so I need to have very steady hands. I switch on my lens’ Vibration Reduction (VR) for extra stability, and I switch my camera to the quiet shutter mode, so I can be as non-intrusive as possible .

The herd eventually relaxes enough to start drinking their fill…but the vigilance never leaves them. Ears alert, heads popping up every time my shutter trips, females looking around for danger the whole time. But danger is far away on this morning…they have a good long drink, and eventually saunter off back into the bush in search of food. I relax, and take a deep breath as the sun peeks over the horizon.

Nikon D3s | Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II | f5.6 | 1/320 SS | ISO-2500

Moments like this is what it’s all about…for so many it’s just chasing those iconic species like lions, leopards, elephants…and yes of course I enjoy seeing and photographing them…but it’s about so much more. Wildlife photography is about appreciating the diversity of Creation, the immense balance and beauty that exists in nature. It’s an immersive experience, and one you need to be present for when you are in the field.

Nikon D3s | Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II | f4.0 | 1/320 SS | ISO-1000

As usual, the photos will display at best resolution and sharpness against a dark background if you merely click on them and cycle through with your arrow keys.

Thanks for having a read of my blog! I hope you have a stunning day.

Morkel Erasmus

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!

Morkel Erasmus

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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