WPY 2013

Photograph Details

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013

Grand title winner

Winner 2013

Animal Portraits

Greg du Toit, South Africa

Essence of elephants

Since first picking up a camera, Greg has photographed African elephants. ‘I’ve always wanted to capture their special energy and their state of consciousness,’ he says.

The shot was taken at a waterhole in Botswana’s Northern Tuli Game Reserve from a sunken hide. Greg used a slow shutter speed to create the atmosphere and ‘to depict these gentle giants in an almost ghostly way.’ He used a tilted wide-angle lens to catch the size of any elephant entering the foreground, and a narrow aperture to create depth of field so that elephants in the background would also be in focus.

To emphasise their mystery, he attached a polarising filter and set his white balance to a cool temperature. The lucky final touch was the baby elephant, which raced by so close. The slow shutter speed conveyed the motion, and a burst of flash at the end of the exposure froze the fleeting detail.

Technical specification

Nikon D3s + 16-35mm f4 lens + polarising filter; 1/30 sec at f22; ISO 800; Nikon SB-900 flash + SC28 remote cord; mini-tripod; Nikon cable-release.


Northern Tuli Game Reserve, Botswana: latitude -22.1761, longitude 29.0469 Northern Tuli Game Reserve, Botswana: latitude -22.1761, longitude 29.0469

Northern Tuli Game Reserve, Botswana

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Greg du Toit

Greg du Toit, South Africa

Born in South Africa, Greg was passionate about wildlife from a young age. After studying nature conservation, he worked as a wilderness guide, an experience that proved invaluable when he became a professional wildlife photographer. His pictures have been exhibited and published worldwide to international acclaim, and his many awards include Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013.

  • Golden forest rhino
  • Fleeing the flames
  • Night of the pelicans