annaphillips
annaphillips

elephant cut out



elephant cut out

elephant cut out
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3 Comments | Report
roccochiara
 
roccochiara October 17, 2014
bel B/W!
Timbo
 
Timbo October 22, 2014
Excellent....well done
Bannekh
 
Bannekh December 02, 2014
Nice shot

Behind The Lens

Location
This photo was taken at Knysna Elephant Park in South Africa where it is possible to walk with and feed the elephants.
Time
I took the photo at 12.05pm which isn't usually the best time to take photos but it was the perfect for photographing the elephants as they weren't at all hungry, bored or tired.
Lighting
With the sun overhead I found the lighting was perfect for highlighting all of the little creases, folds and details in the elephants skin. I shot handheld and didn't use a flash. In fact I hate using flashes around animals, especially huge ones like an elephant.
Equipment
This was shot handheld using a Nikon D80 and 70-300mm lens.
Inspiration
I have been working on a series of animal portraits and found this the perfect opportunity to look an elephant in the eyes and sum up its wisdom in a single photo. The elephants here are as tame as elephants can be but I was still nervous standing so close to one.
Editing
I usually do minimal processing on my images which generally involves adding a small amount of clarity in Lightroom and adjusting the white balance and histogram. Here however, I have used both Lightroom and Photoshop to go a little bit further. After doing my initial edits I exported and opened it in Photoshop and cut the elephant out to minute detail. I then created a background using different paintbrushes to create a texture and enhanced it some more by using different overlays. I also burnt a slight shadow to the area of background behind the elephant. For the elephant itself I tuned the image black and white and adjusted the tonal curve until I was happy. I also burnt and dodged certain areas that I wanted to shadow and highlight.
In my camera bag
I usually travel lightly and pack just my Nikon D800 and its 28-300mm lens. My accessories include an extra battery, cleaning kit, remote shutter release and at least 50gb of memory cards. I used a small Lowpro bag which I take everywhere, it only has room for this amount of kit and my handbag essentials. More often than not I will be carrying around my Manfrotto tripod but mainly shoot handheld. It's always worth taking though. If I've been hired for a shoot I will take my much larger Lowpro backpack with my speedlight and several other pieces of kit.
Feedback
Start with an animal that trusts you and is patient. I practice with my dogs as they will sit for hours posing and will usually change poses upon command. It's slightly different with a "wild" animal as you have to move around them. It's quite unnerving standing in front of an elephant that isn't in an enclosure so keep a good distance between you and don't crouch down. Try to avoid too much eye contact as well, you don't want to appear threatening. Usually the animal will tell you when its had enough. I photographed cheetahs earlier in my career when I worked as an assistant to a photographer in South Africa. I was allowed into their enclosure and when the keeper had left to speak to my boss I made my way towards a cheetah lying on the floor to photograph her. As I started crouching down to her level the keeper came running over to shoo away several other cheetahs who were closing in on me. Lesson learned, do not let yourself look like prey.

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