We had an opportunity while living in Kenya to visit the gorillas in Rwanda. Visits are tightly controlled; no more than 8 people for each gorilla family (there are generally about 3 families), and the families can go anywhere they want - and where they want is most often thick jungle at high altitude (2500 m/8000 feet or more) and very steep terrain. We endured scrapes (one serious) and lots and LOTS of stinging nettles to get to where the rangers had seen our gorilla family earlier that morning.
We were allowed 1 hour by the clock, and could come no closer than 7 m (20') to the gorillas - though they could come as close as they liked, and indeed one youngster almost brushed into me as he anbled by; I had to scramble to get out of his way. Because we could get that close, I opted to use an 18-70 lens (the 18-200 lens didn't exist then, or at least I hadn't heard of it yet). One problem I was not aware of at the time is that autofocus doesn't work well on black fur. Seems obvious, doesn't it? It was also overcast, which made hiking easier but cut down the contrast. Still, I was able to get some decent shots, and I played with this one in Photoshop to sharpen it some more.
And yes, the steep price ($375 then; it's gone up since) is worth it. Gorillas are among our closest relatives, and highly endangered; much of the fee goes to pay the salaries of the rangers who risk their lives every day defending these gentle giants from poachers.
Technical: In RAW, raise Sharpness to 104%, raise Contrast , convert WB to Daylight. In CS3, crop, Curves and Unsharp Mask.
Critiques | Translate
holmertz (31580) 2009-10-15 14:17
A really nice shot, making all that trouble worthwhile. I don't think I will ever see these fantastic animals in their natural environment, so I cant deny that I envy you.
Looking closely at the gorilla's fur I can see traces of strong post-processing, but that doesn't diminish it's magnificent attitude.
avene (12675) 2009-10-15 18:27
I like this shot despite all the technical problems. I can talk at length how nicely the branches frame the animal, but the photo is about more than that. I'm in the middle of following a course on human origin and how we share a common ancestor with this philosophical-looking dude, makes you wonder how stupid we are to deliberately destroy the homes of our relatives.
New York right now host travelling exibition of "Lucy", I'm planning to go and say hi :)
plimrn (21344) 2009-10-16 19:09
Oh, Yes!! This is worth it all in my book; an event you'll always treasure. I love the look on this fellow's face, the title is just right.
sevy (14437) 2009-12-02 7:57
It is funny because today I let a comment to Avene on a photo taken in an US zoo asking why she was not gone in Rwanda. You did.
Something I would like to live one day. Who knows?
For sure, technically this photo is not perfect but knowing this kind of difficult light and animal capture I could not blame. It remains a fantastic remembering, the one everybody would like to heve.
- Copyright: Daniel Kohanski (Wandering_Dan) (3449)
- Genre: Places
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2007-03-01
- Categories: Nature
- Camera: Nikon D70, 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX Nikkor, RAW
- Exposure: f/16, 1/60 seconds
- More Photo Info: view
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Date Submitted: 2009-10-15 9:36