Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Animal photography: Sometimes you just can't get it right...

There are times when the inability of a camera to handle extreme lighting becomes painfully obvious.
I was having dinner on the terrace of Sossus Dune Lodge, the only resort inside the Namib Naukluft park at Sesriem (Sossusvlei) one evening when someone spotted a black-backed jackal sloping though the half light towards the resort.
He ran up to the terrace and sat about ten feet away staring up at the figures tucking into a kudu steak in the restaurant eight foot above him. As the ground below was unlit and rocky, even spotting this critter in the gloom was difficult. Eventually I could make out a pair of ears poking out of the gloom.
Recording this seemingly semi-tame jackal was another matter – even at 12,800 ISO there wasn’t enough light to see the animal other than it’s ears which were catching light off of the terrace (I wasn't going to use flash on a nocturnal animal because, at close range, this might damage its night vision permanently).
Digital cameras simply cannot record extreme contrast like this so the resulting image was hilariously bad – a pair of ears floating in darkness.  I tried adjusting the shadows – with some success, but even so, without the right light, it remains a disaster! 

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