I often wonder if folks who look at photographs of animals and birds have any concept of the patience and endurance required by photographers to get their amazing shots. Until Rob and I started photographing birds and animals we totally under-estimated the difficulties involved in getting most creatures to sit still for a second, never mind a few minutes while we get our cameras poised and in focus. We know that birds have an area around their bodies that is their ‘danger or comfort’ zone and if we enter that zone they are off, but animals also seem to have a sixth sense about us wanting to take their photos in the first place and then they make themselves scarce!
It took three years for Rob to get a decent photo of a Bateleur
One thing is for sure, the animal or bird that you are desperately wanting to photograph, will put in an appearance when you are least expecting it and when you are least prepared for it! The irony is often that people who aren’t keen to see any particular animals or birds, get first class sightings without any effort whatsoever. I heard a classic story related by a tour guide whilst I was queuing up to enter Kruger National Park. He said that he had been a guide for 27 years and had always wanted to see an elusive pangolin, when one unexpectedly put in an appearance one afternoon while he was doing a tour. As these are nocturnal animals and quite rare, he was over the moon – while the tourists wondered what all the fuss was about. We will feel like he did when we eventually (if we ever) get a photo of an aardvark or a pangolin.
A rare animal is very gratifying to photograph
Sometimes the best laid plans for a photo shoot can go horribly awry, although they do have their upside as well. Take for example our recent quest to photograph a pair of porcupines that make nightly forays to the bottom of a friend’s garden for a meal of left-over veges, pumpkin or watermelon. We bought an enormous, thick-skinned blue pumpkin to lure them in for a photo-shoot and Trish, our hostess, went to great pains to peg the pumpkin down so that they didn’t carry it off into the night. She also set up an infra-red and other lights for us and so all we had to do was set up our cameras and wait patiently for the porcupines to put in an appearance.
This fellow was coming in for a meal at Erongo Wilderness Lodge
Fortunately I had the foresight to take along a good bottle of cabinet sauvignon wine to help while away the hours and we settled in for our long wait. Trish is a good conversationalist and we soon learnt of her incredible life in Madagascar and elsewhere in Africa. (That’s one of the amazing things about the people you meet in Namibia – they have mostly lead such interesting lives and are widely traveled).
Needless to say, the wine glasses emptied, we mellowed and the porcupines decided to stay away. At an embarrassingly late hour we took our leave of Trish, went home and settled in to bed, only to receive an sms to say that our guests had finally arrived for their meal. Damn!!!! The next day Trish sent us photos of two enormous porcupines dining happily on their blue pumpkin. (Unfortunately I can’t use these pictures as our policy is only to use our own photographs on this website.) Disappointing though it was, we will be doubly pleased when we do eventually get the photos that we’re after – and who knows, perhaps it will take a few more bottles of that delicious red wine and good company before that happens.
So next time you see a brilliant animal or bird photograph think about that poor photographer’s liver! (Hic!)
Rob and I would like to wish all our readers a very blessed and merry Christmas.