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Longer Lashes Naturally

I've been wanting to get a shot like this for a long time, and I've been trying for just as long, but it's not easy. The main problem obviously is that you have to first find an elephant with lashes this incredibly long - not all elephants are the same and some even have rather short lashes. And when you find one, then the sun needs to be very low, close to the horizon. These long lashes are the perfect natural sunshades and keep any sunlight from directly hitting the eye, making the eyes either invisible or very dark - the low angle of the sun is necessary to illuminate the eye. And if those criteria are met, then you have to be able to get fairly close in order to actually photograph the eye, and be fast enough to take the shot...

 

Most of the times the elephants I encountered were either too far away to even try, the sun was too high, the lashes were short, or the elephant simply didn't want to get into the right position. Luckily, this one time everything came together. I had spotted the elephant in the distance and I quickly moved into the same direction, trying to find any elephant paths ahead of it. Elephants are creatures of habit and often use the same tracks to move from one place to the other. When I found one, I looked into the distance to see if the elephant was more or less moving in my direction, and when it did, I positioned my vehicle such that the light was coming from over my shoulder and that there was enough room for the elephant to pass - you don't want to be in the way of an elephant!

 

After a couple of minutes the elephant walked straight into my direction, and when it walked passed my vehicle, it briefly stopped, and looked at me to check me out. I had just enough time to get the shot.

 

(Nikon D2Xs, AF-S VR 70-200/2.8, 1/320 @ f/5.6, ISO 200, handheld, cropped to appr. 75%)

 

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Taken on November 4, 2009