Elephants caught on camera


In this portfolio, Greg du Toit reveals his tips on how to photograph these magnificent giants

I have spent the past four years working on the ‘In the Footsteps of Giants’ project, whereby I have enjoyed hundreds of hours with elephants. I have flown over wild country looking for giant tuskers in Kenya and I have descended into an extinct volcano in Tanzania in pursuit of these majestic beasts.

I have been to the Congo Basin and the Skeleton Coast of Namibia in search of both forest and desert elephant. I have also traversed the Zambezi Valley photographing on foot and even from boat and canoe, all in search of my behemoth subjects.

It has been a spellbinding journey, and now that I have this body of work, I hope to share it with a wider audience so that these photographs can help ensure that elephants are always remembered. This is important — not just because they are sentient beings but because they are also a keystone species in the environment, meaning that should they go extinct, the entire ecosystem would collapse.

Sadly, Africa has lost 70 per cent of its elephant population in the past 40 years, and alarmingly, they are now being killed at a faster rate than they are being born. Hunters come out to Africa to shoot elephants, while poachers kill them just so that their tusks (merely teeth) can be turned into ornaments
or medicines.

In a giant’s footsteps (picture above)
Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana
“Elephants are so big that they pose a bit of a photographic conundrum, as one never knows where to focus. Initially, one zooms out to capture the entire animal but an elephant’s individual appendages can make for striking photographs on their own. Here, I focused just on the back legs of one after it had finished drinking and was moving off. Dust had turned into mud and, using a long focal length, I was able to capture the detail.”
Nikon D5, Nikon 500mm F4 lens, F8 1/3200th, ISO 800

To join Greg on a photographic safari or workshop and to see more of his work, visit gregdutoit.com.