Canon Kenya Photo Awards 2016 Winner, Nature Category
The 2016 Canon Kenya Photography Awards were held in Nairobi on 19th June. At the event, this image which I shot in Masai Mara won in the Nature Category. Allow me to share the story behind the image.
Visiting the Masai Mara during the migration isn’t a guarantee that you’ll witness a river crossing. The animals don’t stick to any schedule and can pick any of a handful of crossing points.
The night before we witnessed the crossing, Gina my wife prayed that we’d be witnesses to the spectacle. Indeed, the prayers of the righteous avail much.
After an early lunch at Serena on the fateful day, the 10th of August 2015, we decided to stake out at one of the crossings in Mara Triangle.
We were the first at the spot so we had a vantage point. If the Landcruisers that have the height advantage got here before us, we’d be shooting tourists shooting the crossing.
It was around 1250h and the sun was hot and high.
Led by the zebras, the animals started drinking from the river.
When they started to cross, the crocs swam in for the kill. We counted 20 crocodiles in total.
The image above is my favourite from Mara. It however wasn’t the Judges’ pick.
When the zebras noticed the crocs, they became agitated. Some rushed out of the river while others continued crossing, albeit hurriedly this time.
That is when the crocs picked the smallest from the zebra crossing. They surrounded it and separated it from the rest of the herd.
The young one cried out for it’s mum but she was heavily outnumbered.
The foal tried to escape but wasn’t fast enough for the snappy crocs.
Checking the aroma before digging in?
One croc opened it’s jaws wide…
…and pulled the foal into the water to drown him.
The young zebra wasn’t going to go down without a fight. The brave one fought hard, trying to wrestle himself from the crocodile’s grip.
That is when I snapped this award-winning photo. Canon 7D. 400mm, 1/2000sec at f/7.1, ISO 250.
What made it one of my favourites as well is the arching of the waters from the foal’s lead as he fights for dear life. There’s beautiful symmetry in that action that also adds motion to a still image. There’s also the rising of his right front leg – it’s almost like he’s galloping. Then the blood coming out of his left leg – it’s a symbol of life living his body; a sign of imminent death. Meanwhile, the two crocodiles are motionless, just holding on tight to their lunch.
I edited the image in Lightroom 4 and Perfect Photo Suite 8 to make the zebra and crocodile to ‘pop’ from the water.
When the foal could fight no more, the crocodiles twisted and turned, shredding the young zebra into bite-sized pieces.
I love this photo as well. Shows a lot of contrast: life and death. Both heads are rising above the water; one in life, another in death.
As this happened, other zebras passed by, headed to Serengeti.
In death, life moves on.
Special thanks to my brother Fady who lent me his EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS with which I used to take the shot.
During our 7 days in the Mara, we witnessed only one crossing, yet around five were reported. As said earlier, crossings are unpredictable. To guarantee you catch one, pray and wait.
You can read more about our epic 7 days in the 7th wonder here.