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 is a professional wildlife photographer and African safari guide. He is the author of two books, African Wildlife Exposed and Phototips - Getting It Right In Camera. Greg is passionate about communicating his appreciation and awe for wild creatures through his work. He was named Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2013.

Image details

  • Nikon D3s
  • 16-35mm f4 lens
  • 1/30 sec at f22  •   ISO 800  •   Nikon SB-900 flash + SC28 remote cord  •   mini-tripod
Copyright in WPY competition photographs remains the property of the respective photographers. You may not copy, share, reproduce or republish the photographs except as expressly permitted by copyright law. For media image usage enquiries, please contact us.

More images from Greg du Toit

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Fleeing the flames
Night of the pelicans
Dog’s dinner

Wonder wall


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