A Photographers Muse

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Muse : A source of inspiration , normally a woman 

Like most photographers I often draw inspiration from other artists work, but what I have come to realize is that the one constant influence which positively effects my work , is my Muse!
Speaking for myself I find that I am at most creative when I have that someone special in my life.
I am very emotional photographer often not clicking my shutter till my heart tells me too.
So it’s important for me to be in the right frame of mind. More often than not that is when I am sharing my life with  someone special. This person  becomes my inspiration ,my Muse.
I can’t really  explain why , maybe it because the feelings they inspire within?
It’s all to do with positive emotion ,and with being an emotional driven photographer this  can only guide and inspire me in my photography.
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Irish Examiner, BBC WPOTY 2012

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Irishman scoops top wildlife photo award

By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith

Monday, October 24, 2011

HE turned a professional nightmare into an up close and personal insight into nature’s beauty, claiming a prestigious international wildlife photography award for his efforts.

Irish photographer Peter Delaney, who is based in Wicklow, received the accolade alongside colleagues in 17 categories during the Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 contest.

The award is specifically related to his Nature in Black and White image “Big Foot” — a rare close-up image of an elephant taken just when the opportunity seemed lost.

“Peter’s day didn’t start well. It was cold, he was sitting in a hide near a waterhole in South Africa’s Mapungubwe Game Reserve, Limpopo, and had forgotten not only his short lens but also his coffee flask,” the judging panel explained.

“The irritation magnified when a huge herd of elephants came to within 20 metres of the hide. ‘The elephants were playing and bathing, but the only thing I could do was shoot close-ups,’ he said. “Soon though, Peter became so engrossed in the detail of texture, tone and light that nothing else mattered. It made him realise that sometimes we can be spoilt by too much choice of equipment, and how creativity can often emerge from constraint.”

Among the other winners — whose work will be showcased at London’s Natural History Museum until March, before touring the world — were amateurs, professionals, youth awards and those for images focusing on the plight of endangered species.

This year’s overall winner was Daniel Beltrá of Spain, who was commended for his portrait of brown pelicans covered in crude oil after the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico last year.

The prestigious contest has been running for 47 years and is organised by the Natural History Museum and BBC’s Wildlife Magazine. The competition receives thousands of entries from across the globe every year and is regarded as one of the highest accolades in wildlife photography.

* Professional and amateur photographers are encouraged to enter the 2012 competition from December 5. This year’s winning images, including Mr Delaney’s, can be viewed at nhm.ac.uk.

Read more: http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/kfqlkfgbcwql/rss2/#ixzz1uAj2ESzC

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Salvadora Lion

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When I return from a photographic trip I tend to be disappointed with some of my images. Feeling that they didn’t live up to my expectations. There will always be a few images that I feel could be special. So I concentrate on editing them. The rest I catalogue and leave. Knowing that in a few weeks or months I will return with fresh eyes and perspective. And more often than not I will find the odd gem.

Salvadora Lion is one of those images found nearly 8 months after it was captured. Its not that I had not visited or trolled through its folder before, I had many times but for some reason I had not noticed its potential. Maybe I was not in the right  frame of mind, maybe I was focused on elephants or landscapes and lions just did not appeal to me.

In the field I am emotive photographer responding to how a particular scene makes me feel. And that is how I edit on my computer. When an image appears on my screen and my heart skips a beat I know I am on to something. And that is when a photographer is at his most creative .Yes, you have to capture the image in camera first but thats just 50% of the job done the other 50% is in the digital darkroom. And its in the digital darkroom that a photographer through his creative vision can turn a photograph in to a beautiful work of art.

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Night Stalker

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On Safari the leopard is high on everyones bucket list. But this elusive loner can be one of the most difficult animals to find. The greater Kruger has one of the highest densities of leopard in the world. This gives you have a better chance to view them there than anywhere else. Looking for a leopard at night time can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. So when I came across this territorial male it was a moment of elation and trepidation. Elation because I had at last found a leopard the trepidation was that he was meters from my open top vehicle. There is something primeval about the eyes of a leopard at night .And the brief illumination of a diffused spotlight only heightened this feeling. With the play of light and shadow upon his face it created a menacing look that chilled to the bone. No flash, handheld diffused spotlight by ranger, camera hand held, Camera; Nikon D3 Lens; 70-200mm Settings; 1/400 F2.8 iso 1000 Location; Greater Kruger, South Africa

 

 

 

 

 

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Attitude

Observation plays a very important role if a photographer wishes to capture  that decisive moment. When this large herd of elephants arrived at this waterhole I had to decide which individuals to focus on.Otherwise my shooting would be random and without purpose.

I chose this youngster because of his attitude. He was constantly trying to exert his dominance over other young elephant and the waterbirds.

With this image I wanted to include an adult to show a sense of scale but  not overpower the young elephant hence the crop. The dabchick adds another sense of scale and a triangular link between the elephants.

 

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rhino charge

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Rhino charge

There are time s when I wonder if I made the right decision in becoming a wildlife photographer. These times tend be life or death situations. Having a leopard stalk me at my tent, a nomadic lion jumping next to me …charged by elephants, showering with a boomslang and this particular time having an angry two tonne of black rhino bearing down on me.

I normally hear my mothers voice at these times ” You’r going get get eatin by lion or trampled by a elephant and all  for a photograph”  “are you mad or what and you gave up that good job in Tokyo  ”

And so here I was in Madikwe game reserve with my two ranger friends out for a quite mornings shoot . When out of nowhere this angry mother and calf decide to charge right at us.

At times like this my adrenalin kicks in … Which is good thing but you have to be able to control it… So I kept saying my usual mantra in situations like this . …

“Don’t mess it up”

So I leaned over the side wedged in between the seat and railing of the open 4×4 to get a nice low angle , controlled my breathing checked my settings and started shooting.

It was an amazing site watching this prehistoric beast in full charge, all four feet off the ground with leaves still in her mouth.

As The rhino got closer and closer and we all realized she was not going to stop so just as she was a few meters from hitting us, we started shouting/screaming and banging the doors as loud as possible . It worked she pulled off to the left in a trail of dust with baby in tow.

To say I was on a high would be an understatement ,but as all photographers do, the first thing I did  was checked to see if I got my shot.
I did!

 

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The Gladiator

The Kalahari is a land of extremes: summer temperatures soar whilst winter nights plummet to well below freezing, a parched dusty landscape that can be transformed overnight to a sea of green rolling dunes. The silence can be deafening for those of us whose lives are consumed by everyday noise. For the inhabitants of the Kalahari, life is a constant struggle; their survival hangs by a single thread - the arrival of the rains. If they are late this can seal the fate of those who have struggled through a long hard winter. It’s October. For the visitor this is prime viewing time, as the scarce vegetation and water means animals congregate close to the man made waterholes. Birders await the arrival of migrants such as Abdim’s Stork, Yellow-billed Kite, Booted Eagle and Common Swift from their long journeys. But the rains are late, the air is thick with dust and the wind blows sand that bits at the faces of the ungulates making their way to a nearby waterhole. As the dust swirls settle down and the wind drops an eerie sensation descends around the waterhole. Soon it is apparent why - the place is littered with carcasses of once magnificent Eland - patches of skin, horns and pieces of bones from their huge frames lay scattered. At first they circle, in ones and twos, within minutes the sky is full. Their descent is almost silent, landing on the beautiful Camel thorns. Their powerful necks move in arcs as they scan their surroundings. On the ground they begin hissing and squawking noisily; chaos ensues as they fight for best feeding position. They climb over each other, pecking, biting and clawing their way through the mayhem; fights breaking out as they vie for dominance at the carcass. This is the way of the White-backed Vulture. I reposition myself, it’s close to midday and the light is harsh - not ideal, but that doesn’t matter I have been waiting a long time to capture images of these magnificent raptors these vultures of the Kalahari. In my minds eye I have the images I want to create. I click away pausing now and again to get a better angle. In the view finder I am composing and recomposing over and over again. Watching and waiting for a particularly aggressive vulture to attack. Then he arrives. Walking across my viewfinder he defines magnificence, he demands respect. He towers above the white-backs. They part like the Sea of Galilee as he moves towards the carcass. The Lappet-faced Vulture has arrived. All action halts. Even the jackals pause to look at the latest arrival, assesses the situation, then trot off. The Lappet-face starts chewing and pulling at the carcass, and the free-for-all starts again, but the White-backed Vulture are careful to keep their distance. Every now and again the Lappet-faced reminds them with a hiss or a vicious bite of the pecking order at the carcass. In truth these two rivals have different preferences at the carcass the White-backed Vulture favours the softer parts whilst the Lappet-faced Vulture is inclined to go for the skin, tendons and ligaments - the parts that most other vultures are not equipped to deal with. Skirmishes start breaking out once again amongst the White-backed scavengers. It is difficult to photograph as the fighting vultures kick up so much dust. They are totally engulfed. Now and again I can see a head, a wing, a claw, as feathers and dirt fly in all directions. I click away with more hope more than certainty. When the dust settles the carcass is bare. Some vultures fly to nearby trees but their takeoff is laboured due to full crops. Those who have over indulged and are too heavy to fly simply walk to the shade of the nearest tree. I sit up and take my eye away from the view finder. I count over 60 White-backed Vulture, 2 Lappet-faced Vulture, a pair of Bateleur, Tawny Eagle and even a Lanner Falcon. The demise of the Eland has become a bounty for so many of these raptors and it has been a privilege to witness and record this interaction. .

The above text and images I wrote for a feature article for Birds and Birding…

 

 

 

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The Godfather

While he stands knee deep in the waterhole his eyes are closed as he dozes off. Now and again this giant will swish his tail or fill his trunk to spray his massive frame with the cool grey liquid. He is big – 4 meters tall and over 4 ton in weight, he is the “Godfather” as I affectionately call this giant elephant. It‚s two in the afternoon and the heat is relentless; over 30 degrees Celsius and no shade.

It’s been the same routine for weeks now. The Godfather and his two shadow bulls arrives early afternoon and commandeer the waterhole. This is the only water for 20 sq kms and the animals have travelled all day to drink this life saving water. But this “Trinity” will not give way or tolerate any other animal to drink in their presence.

A multitude of animals,springbok,gemsbok,zebra,ostrich,giraffe,even lion have waited hours for the elephants departure so that they may quench their thirst. From a photographer‚s point of view watching this action is like manna from the heavens‚ as there are attempted lion kills, sporadic jostles between herd males vying for dominance and occasional visits from black rhino that appear like spectres as the sun fades below the horizon.

When the elephants do eventually leave my heart skips a beat as I prepare for the shot that has eluded me for so long. In my mind’s eye I have visualized this scene many times. But in order for this to happen I need them to walk towards me. But each day I groan inwardly and at another missed opportunity as the trinity head off to dust bath in the opposite direction .

Today however will be different as that morning I had seen the three bulls feeding from a camel thorn tree away from their usual feeding place. Soon it will be time for them to depart. I leave, anticipating their route, and wait silently for them to come in to view. I have checked and rechecked my equipment and decided upon the camera and lens combination. I now relax and control my breathing as they come in to view.

The next ten minutes are a bliss of forgetfulness as I zone in to the task at hand; only one moment stands out.

He stands still before me in all his magnificence, raising his trunk filled with the red Kalahari dust. In one fluid movement he sprays his forehead and for one brief moment he is covered in the magic of dust and light.

 

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