Essence of elephants

Greg du Toit's Image

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.

Behind the lens

Greg du Toit

Greg du Toit

South Africa

Greg has spent the last 20 years photographing exclusively in Africa, waiting for the perfect light, subject, background and behaviour to coexist in singular moments. He specialises in low light and slow shutter speeds. He won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year grand title in 2013 and is one of Africa's most sought-after photographic safari guides.

Image details

  • Nikon D3s
  • 16-35mm f4 lens
  • 1/30 sec at f22  •   ISO 800  •   Nikon SB-900 flash + SC28 remote cord  •   mini-tripod
  • Northern Tuli Game Reserve, Botswana
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More images from Greg du Toit

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Night of the pelicans
Fleeing the flames
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