Greg du Toit / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 20138 of 10
Essence of Elephants
by Greg du Toit, South Africa
Winner: Animal Portraits
Ever since he first picked up a camera, Greg has photographed African elephants. "For many years," he says, "I've wanted to create an image that captures their special energy and the state of consciousness that I sense when I'm with them. This image comes closest to doing that." The shot was taken at a waterhole in Botswana’s Northern Tuli Game Reserve, from a hide (a sunken freight container) that provided a ground-level view. Greg chose to use a slow shutter speed to create the atmosphere he was after and try "to depict these gentle giants in an almost ghostly way." He used a wide-angle lens tilted up to emphasize the size of whatever elephant entered the foreground, and chose a narrow aperture to create a large depth of field so that any elephants in the background would also be in focus. Greg had hoped the elephants would turn up before dawn, but they arrived after the sun was up. To emphasize the "mysterious nature" of these "enigmatic subjects," he attached a polarizing filter and set his white balance to a cool temperature. The element of luck that added the final touch to his preparation was the baby elephant, which raced past the hide, so close that Greg could have touched her. The slow shutter speed conveyed the motion, and a short burst of flash at the end of the exposure froze a fleeting bit of detail.
Photos: 10 Stunning Images of Wildlife Around the WorldWinning shots from the 2013 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition