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PARALLEL LINES

Lewa, Kenya 2018

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THE BEAST

THE QUEEN OF RANTHAMBORE

THE STATESMAN

THE STATESMAN

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 2017

India, 2018

Alaska, 2018

Alaska, 2018

When I encountered this massive bull it

When we left Rajasthan at 1 am and

This image was close to the preconception

Mana Pools, on the Zimbabwe side of the

was with my camera in hand, not a remote

drove back to Delhi, we did some maths.

of what I envisioned when I arrived on

Zambezi, is a raw wildlife experience.

control unit. I was very conscious of the

We calculated that in total we had spent

the Zambezi (just a little better than I

There are no glamour camps and very

distance between us—it would have

35 hours in a jeep looking for tigers

dared hope). My goal was a full on “face

few visitors. But therein lies its charm

been both illegal and foolish for me to

and in that time, we were with tigers

off” portrait of a hippopotamus, which

and allure. It was a great thrill to spend

move any closer, but there was always the

on our own for about 30 minutes. That

emphatically conveyed both the enormity of

time in Mana with David Pocock—flanker

chance that the bison would take this

equates to being employed for about 1.5%

a bull and also the primeval bone structure

for the Australian Rugby team—and his

issue out of my hands. I was knee deep

of the time and places this assignment

of his face. They are half contemporary

partner—Emma. Dave was born in Zim

in snow and I would not have fancied my

right at the low end of what we do, along

African wildlife, half dinosaur, and 100%

and when he hangs up his famous boots,

chances of scrambling backwards.

with polar bears in Svalbard. It is also

lethal when compromised.

conservation in his native country will no

consistent with my previous trips to

The temperature that early morning

The problem I had was that I wanted

doubt become a large part of his life. It

was just under -15 degrees Celsius—not

Ranthambore, which have all been in

to get close and low and with thousands of

was quite a revelation to find that this

super cold, but cold enough for snow to have

the 1-2% range. To offer some context,

hippos on the Zambezi, this requires either

colossus of a man, was able to correctly

settled on the bison’s primal face. This was

elephants in Amboseli would be about

a large dose of bravery or a momentarily

pair every bird sound with the right bird.

very much my preconceived goal when I

40% of available time and lions in the

compliant animal. In most cases, they

He even has a bird sound app on his iPad.

was researching Yellowstone. He looks like

Serengeti about 10%.

will drop their heads and go underwater if

Life is full of surprises.

a mythological creature from a primal age,

Tigers are therefore a big ask in terms of patience and resolve. It is very hot in May

not a bison in 2017.

and the roads are not made for comfort.

I prefer not to use the magnification

approached—they are mammal submarines with little tolerance for humans. There was one hippo who showboated

The rainy season had just finished and so it was still very green in Mana Pools, making it a challenge to come home with

and distance compression of telephoto

These are long days and the drinking water

and was not intimidated by boats or

something special. With such an illustrious

lenses, but sometimes—like in this “head

becomes warm by noon—even in a cooler.

humans which was ideal.The hippo was

assistant, I felt under a little pressure to

on” situation—they serve a purpose as there

The upside is that when the encounters

an enormous male called Dexter and

perform and until Sunday morning, the

is simply no safe or practical alternative.

happen, they can be spellbinding.

he owns the entrance of a creek on the

cupboard was distinctly bare.

This mother of three, is well known

The key issue for me is the validity of the

Zambian side of the Zambezi and can

We focused on one pool and one

chosen focal point—as much of what is

to the guides and because tigers feel the

often be found sunbathing on the banks.

enormous hippo, but I just could not get

behind and much of what is in front of that

heat just as much as we do, watering holes

Ryan recommended I lie on the other

close enough or low enough.

point will quickly lose detail—no matter

in the middle of the day offered the best

bank 30 yards across the creek and wait

the lens apeture. To lose it behind is okay

chance of meeting her in her territory.

until I grabbed Dexter’s attention. Luckily

extensions poles, which Dave—being a

, but in front can create too big a tension

There is a great amount of luck involved

my presence had no impact but the angle

strong lad—held steady for long periods

point for the image to work. I remember

in this approach as I need to be low as well

required me to crawl even closer through

of time—was fruitless. Plan B was simply

worrying about my focus at the time and

as safe and many watering holes do not

mud and water. As Dexter moved towards

to be brave and that morning at 6.30 am,

straight after—as these encounters happen

allow for this. I needed the right waterhole

me, it was not easy to think about single

I managed to crawl within 15 yards of

all too quickly. But many hours later,

and to be there at the right time. She also

point focus on the camera, composition

the hippo. When he surfaced and mock

back in the warmth of my modest motel

needed to face me—and that in itself was

or exposure from the sun. It was a highly

charged me, it all came together perfectly.

room, I looked at the detail in the nose and

against the odds.

intense five seconds but we got the shot.

Thank goodness—by getting it wrong, we

On this occasion, I was able to get

around the eyes and I knew that I had a

very low and she confronted me head on.

shot. What a total beast of an animal. Focus is everything in photography—

What a massive beast he is and the

Plan A—working with 25 feet

learnt how to get it right.

photograph does convey it.

The shadowed ripples of water fuse with

no more so than at 10,000 feet up,

her stripes in a manner I could never

deep in snow, with a bison in your face

have preconceived. The 98.5% of grueling

at -15 degrees celsius. This was not a

torture was made totally worthwhile by

normal morning.

this special encounter.

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BLACK PANTHER

SWAN LAKE

I AM PURE ALPHA

R OYA L A S C OT

South Africa, 2018

Lake Kussharo, Japan 2017

2017

Mana Pools, Zimbabwe, 2017

Black Panther broke many box office

To the best of my knowledge, I don’t think

This is my classic style. The camera is

Mana Pools, on the Zimbabwe side of the

records on its opening weekend ($207m)

that I have ever photographed swans well

below the wolf’s eyes, the background

Zambezi, is a raw wildlife experience.

and he is now a new cult superhero. I

before—and indeed most images that I do

is clean and without tension points

There are no glamour camps and very

wanted to try to take a picture of a panther

see on Google or elsewhere, struggle to

and the wolf’s eyes are pin sharp. The

few visitors. But therein lies its charm

that did the animal and the superhero

beat the threshold of what is banal. Swans

beauty is in the uncluttered simplicity of

and allure. It was a great thrill to spend

justice. The preconception was that the

are not uncommon and we all have access

the image. The limited depth of field

time in Mana with David Pocock—flanker

key feature had to be the eyes and that

to the Serpentine in London or village

allows the subject to pop and give the

for the Australian Rugby team—and his

we also needed a ground up perspective.

ponds across the country. I can’t conceive

viewer no cause to be distracted. Less

partner—Emma. Dave was born in Zim

That does tend to be my approach, but it

how a picture taken in such a setting that

can be more when the objective is

and when he hangs up his famous boots,

meant remote controls, predictive analysis

would be evocative or eye grabbing. Swans

portraiture rather than storytelling or

conservation in his native country will no

and considerable distance between me

have become an inadvertent accomplice to

decisive moment photography.

doubt become a large part of his life. It

and my camera.

lazy postcard photography.

Intuitively a portrait of a beautiful

was quite a revelation to find that this

wolf should follow the same principles of

colossus of a man, was able to correctly

- it is such a low percentage shot. The

is such a majestic bird—with attitude,

glamour photography because the wolf is

pair every bird sound with the right bird.

light was also low and my depth of field

dignity and above all grace. Tchaikovsky

such a glamorous animal and that attribute

He even has a bird sound app on his iPad.

marginal. We took many shots and in the

opened our eyes to this 140 years ago and

must be emphasised above all others.

Life is full of surprises.

end, we came home with just one. But that

subsequent generations of celebrated

The clarity of this image—given the

is all we will need. Black Panther indeed.

stage choreographers have reinforced

limited available light—would not have

so it was still very green in Mana Pools,

our adoration for the swan. The ballet

been possible a few years ago. I think it

making it a challenge to come home with

probably forged the notion that s

offers an insight into the animal’s soul.

something special. With such an illustrious

This is all very harsh on the swan—it

Time after time we failed dismally

wans are at home dancing in the snow and ice—a far more aesthetically pleasing concept than imaging them scrapping around in a muddy park in Berkshire. Russia gave the world Swan Lake and have earned the right to dictate climatic associations. Just as Dr Zhivago could

He is simply being an alpha wolf. On point, intelligent and poised.

The rainy season had just finished and

assistant, I felt under a little pressure to perform and until Sunday morning, the cupboard was distinctly bare. We focused on one pool and one enormous hippo, but I just could not get close enough or low enough. Plan A—working with 25 feet

never have been filmed in the summer,

extensions poles, which Dave—being a

swans are surely best photographed in

strong lad—held steady for long periods

the bitter winter. It is the winter that

of time—was fruitless. Plan B was simply

personifies Russia and Northern Asia,

to be brave and that morning at 6.30 am,

not the summer.

I managed to crawl within 15 yards of

The romanticist within me had a

the hippo. When he surfaced and mock

preconception of where I could take a

charged me, it all came together perfectly.

strong swan image and today the twin

Thank goodness—by getting it wrong, we

forces of research and luck came together

learnt how to get it right.

shortly before 8.30am on the frozen ice of Lake Kussharo in Northern Hokkaido, Japan. My central premise was that there should be as much white in the picture

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Excerpt: David Yarrow Photography  

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