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Photo Series-Africa's Giraffe

Updated on August 3, 2014

Nature's skyscrapers are nothing short of spectacular and makes one wonder at the glory of natures creations. Such diversity and always well adapted to their surroundings. we are talking about the majestic giraffe with its long neck and all its adaptions that enables them to reach the highest and most succulent of leaves from some of the tallest trees in their natural habitat.

"The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is an African even-toed ungulate mammal, the tallest living terrestrial animal and the largest ruminant. Its specific name refers to itscamel-like face and patches of color on a light background, which bear a vague resemblance to a leopard's spots. The giraffe is also noted for its extremely long neck and legs and prominent horns. It stands 5–6 m (16–20 ft) tall and has an average weight of 1,200 kg (2,600 lb) for males and 830 kg (1,800 lb) for females. It is classified under the family Giraffidae, along with its closest extant relative, the okapi. There are nine subspecies, which differ in size, coloration, pattern, and range." Wikipedia

When photographing this beautiful animal one should attempt to record it in its entirety to showcase their unusual extremities. This should be done with something that will serve as a basis for a viewer to truly grasp how tall these creatures are. Trees and other animals which are nearby can serve this purpose.

There are many other suitable images but one which can really make an impact if of their foraging habits. Aim to record images of their tongue which is probably the longest in the animal world. They also have some rather peculiar habits such as "brushing " their face with their tongue. "The giraffe's tongue is about 50 cm (20 in) long and prehensile. It is purplish-black in color, perhaps to protect against sunburn, and is useful to gripping branches and stripping leaves as well as for grooming and cleaning the animal's nose." Wikipedia

Keep in mind that most creatures have been photographed at one point or another so your images must stand out from the rest. if you look closely at the majority of giraffe images you will quickly noticed that most of them are of adult specimens just standing around doing pretty much nothing. You goal is to go one step ahead and capture those moments which even for giraffes, seem unusual. Interaction between parents and their young are one such instance. Mating rituals, males fighting for a female are some others.

Among your shots there should be a good mixture of long shots that also encompass their environment, their interaction with other species such as zebras, eating, mating and many others. Do some close ups that highlight their uniqueness in their markings too. Pay attention when predators are around and if the giraffes have young ones since most predators will not date take on a fully grown adult but their young are another thing. Be attentive since giraffes will aggressively defend their young from almost any predator.

Do not overlook their facial features, especially their eyes which are always good focusing points as with any animal photograph.

Be ready with a good prime zoom lens and perhaps a tripod. Most of your shots will probably take place during daylight as they are diurnal animals and become less active during the night hours.

Good shots are those that not only show the subjects but also encompass their environment during the early dawn hours with these creatures appearing mostly as silhouettes but yet remain recognizable shapes as there is no question of their shape.

As the Sun comes up then your strategy can shift to more close ups and more details. When recording close ups first focus on the skin and set your camera readings to it manually. This prevents the camera sensors from setting a reading which takes into account everything withing the scene and can sometimes render the giraffe's colors in a muted hue which can often happen during periods of bright light. If however you encounter you subjects during periods of diffused light like during the time when an approaching rain storm is about to open up, then this technique may not be need since most of the scene is bathed in the ambient diffused light.

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Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0 | Source
Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0
Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0 | Source

Do not overlook taking images of captive animals that may be available in your local area.

Most zoos and nature preserves have done a very good job in their enclosure design and most resemble the giraffe's natural habitat.

However stay away from including parts of the enclosure on your shots since most have some artificial elements on it such as wires that protect the trunks of trees.

But photographing them on natural preserves and zoos allows you the opportunity of undertaking this project with minimal costs and gives you more time to fully explore them.

Often you can even take their photos from the comfort of your car and with a good zoom most of the shots mentioned can be accomplished.

Use your images for submissions to nature magazines and such and for poster manufacturers and for greeting cards as well as stand alone images.

Even if your images are not taken with making a sale in mind, you can use the experience in order to grow within your photographic efforts.

Regardless of the purpose for photographing always remember to do the best that you can and aim to be as technically flawless as possible and never stop infusing your photographs with your distinctive personal artistic touch.

© 2012 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • Rob Winters profile image

      Rob Winters 5 years ago

      Giraffes are truely unique creatures with their very own grace.Great supporting images Luis.

    • profile image

      Ghaelach 5 years ago

      Hi Luis.

      A beautiful hub that you have written.

      Nature has a wonderful way of giving us surprises every day.

      Take care.

      LOL Ghaelach