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Monday, 15 March 2010

Comments

I am all for honesty and openness, but in my highly limited experience it can often backfire.

I certainly don't like "cheats", and yes, honesty is key, for instance when photographing wildlife or war (that famous image of "camp prisoners" during the Bosnian war where further inspection showed the - famished and disheveled, but not "concentrated" - people were *outside* the camp looking *in* springs to mind...)

But for other images, where the context isn't the image's justification for being, I've found that it often detracts. As s Flickr user, I used to say things about the image in its description, and, very often, the image ended up judged on its *context* rather than on its own merit (or lack thereof.)

I guess it should be down to the photographer's discretion (and yes, that's a weaselly cop-out :)) to say or not say anything about the image and its context. If he's not claiming to be documenting "truth", then all should be fair. If he is, however, obvious stringent rules should apply.

Still - I can't help but wonder how much of this recent development of clamors for "truth" are due to the growing public awareness that images can, and are, set-up, and doctored. When people did not know, or understand, that, they just took an image to be "true". Now they feel they're being lied to, all the time, and so demand "guarantees" that they're being had.

Good grief... I keep trying to think what would have to be at stake (money? kidnapping? national security?) to make a sane person stand up to their eyeballs in a tropical pond for three months, in the certain knowledge of the medical consequences. Wildlife photographers are not sane, of course, by definition.

And isn't that picture of a man lugging a large cat a still from The Flintstones?

That Audobon read, though long, was revealing. I had no idea 'wildlife' could be hired in this way. The lies are disgraceful.

On the other hand I'm OK with documentaries using lab set-ups to show animal behaviour (usually insects, or reptiles or birds rather than mammals). David Attenborough programs now regularly feature a 10 minute section showing how some shots were done.

I remember seeing some hummingbird shots a couple of years ago which were done in an enclosed space with electronic trips and such. But the use was clearly stated.

The featured 'waterhole' shots are outstanding. I too have stood up to my chest in water to get shots. But it was France and my targets were dragonflies. The only danger I was aware of was slipping over and drowning the camera!

I'm actually contemplating going on safari (in 2011) with a South African outfit that would include Greg as one of the guides ! I'm confident that they won't be letting participants put themselves at similar risk :)

I'm a fan of Tom Mangelsen and visited his Jackson Hole gallery about 5 years back where I saw prints of cougars that he shot in the wild. They were grainy; shot from far away with some ridiculous two-tripod setup using a 600/4 and two teleconverters. I bought his book "Spirit of the Rockies" not because it features great photographs of cougars but because it features rare (and good) photographs of cougars in the wild.

As you say, context is important. I've always been more a fan of photos of wildlife in its environment than wildlife "portraits". (I also like candids of people better than posed portraits). So it's important to me to know whether the animals are captive and the photos are staged not because I'm against animal captivity (that would depend on the situation) but because I simply have little interest in photos of captive or tame animals. Part of the enjoyment I get from viewing photos of wildlife is thinking about how they live, where they live, how amazing it is that we live in a world with them, what the photographer had to do to get the shot.

The watering hole picures are wonderful. But considering how much damage the process has done to the photographer, this seems like a perfect job for a remotely controlled camera.

Yesterday's What the Duck seems almost appropriate.

On a more serious note, I have no issues with tamed animals being used for photography. If I see a beautiful photo of a mountain lion on a tree branch with the setting sun behind, I will admire its beauty—those needing to know whether the animal was tame or not are missing the whole point of the photograph (and Photography in general, IMO). A beautiful photograph need only be judged on, well, its beauty.

Now, if you're going to enter a contest that precludes the use of animals in captivity, then don't use that photo if the mountain lion was tame.

The problem people have with this "fake" wildlife photography is the old (yet so current) belief that effort can replace, even engender quality. Thus, a crappy photo taken after the photographer risked life and limb trekking through the jungle for 3 months is "worth" more than a beautiful photo taken at a local animal refuge, even if the animal being photographed was the same species.

It's this same reasoning that makes people consider a photograph of a patch of grass Fine Art if taken with a large format camera, but a snapshot if taken with a P&S. Large format photography is hard, using a P&S is easy. The fact that taking a good photograph with either camera is hard seems irrelevant to many.

Sure, let's not lie about the context the photo was taken in, but let's first and foremost judge a photograph on its merits as an image contained within its four borders. Its beauty as an image does not extend any further than that.

Yeah, THAT is why I'm not a real wildlife photographer. I just do not care enough to spend weeks in a tropical mudhole being eaten and infested. Not even close.

I love seeing the results from people who do care that much, though.

An important distinction is "photograph as evidence" vs. "photograph as illustration" ("photograph as art" is yet another, more distant, category). If the photo is presented as the evidence for something, it has to be stringently and painstakingly honest. If it's presented as an illustration, I don't care much how it was created, I only care how well it illustrates the point; at that point I'm accepting the expert's opinion as to the truth, and I'm just trying to extract from the photo details of how it looks, and I don't care if it's a good drawing, a photo in the lab, or whatever.

Two very interesting articles! I quickly finished the Audubon one to go back and look at the images from Nick Brandt which are stunning. My favorite photographer uses wildlife models, and his exhibitions are the most viewed art in the world today with over 10 million attending. Gregory Colbert at www.ashesandsnow.org uses wildlife models, except for the whales, in a amazing way. However, I cannot speak to the conditions those animals are kept in.

Greg du Toit is demented. Instead of
soaking in the water for months, he
could have built a blind in the water
and operated his cameras with his
computer by remote control while
sipping a glass of Zinfantel.

I've been personally concerned about this concept since that guy used the wolf model to win a contest. I applaud Audubon and their self inflicted disclosure. I want to say that the posed shots should have some sort of asterisk like the steroid influenced baseball records as the photographers who get the shots in the wild are performing a special service. I enjoy carrying my camera with a long lens and hunting animal photos. Photographing posed animal models would be too much like work....a day at the office, as opposed to shooting wildlife in the wild. Henry Cartier-Bresson. I'm pretty sure those incredibly well times shots were not posed by models or even taken with a motor drive, that's what makes them so great.

Thanks for posting these articles. Both were eye-opening.

The first for the marvelous photos of the lions, which immediately brought to mind a remote-mounted Nikon with their radio transmission system and software working off a laptop in a vehicle up to 400 yards away!

The second for really opening the door on the sad truth of game farms and the lack of ethics in many commercial photographers.

For those wanting really good shots of animals, locate your nearest exotic animal rescue organization. Most have tours at very reasonable prices, and you can shoot great work that, in turn, does good work. Such as:http://www.bigcat.org/

Mike, the answer to the unposed question is easy: it is difficult to stand in the water for three hours every day. You don't even have to take the diseases into account. It is difficult to lie in the snow and wait for animals to come out. Why do that and have no guaranteed result when you can rent an animal? Instant gratification.

BTW, Ludovic, don't believe every piece of crappy propaganda you find. What, they were a group of people on a runaway crash diet accidentally appearing to peek into the camp? A friend did an interview with that (then) young emmaciated guy who appeared on the cover of Time. Yes, they were in the camp.

I am just a beginner, but couldn't he have used a remote controlled, waterproofed camera on a tripod? He could have health problems for the rest of his life because of this.

There, now that he has accomplished this remarkable set of images(for those of us "into" line and pattern, the zebra shots are amazing)with your help, we now know we can rent a few beasts and duplicate the images from my backyard pond with far less effort and human investment! Why, if he had only known.....

Congratulations and respects to Greg du Toit!

Bravo!

Captive wildlife casting was revealed to me by a guy who runs a wildlife sanctuary in Colorado. Since then I consider that option in pretty much every single documentary or wildlife photo. If the shot looks hard to pull off for real then it usually isn't.

About the waterhole thing... those shots are nice, if you like that sort of thing, and the context is interesting, but this guy went through hell for no good reason (other than saving money on gear... then spending it on doctors). If any situation could have been avoided with a remotely operated camera, this was it. Make a rig using an RC boat and you're done...

The lioness picture is pretty, but to be honest I have to wonder how much respect we owe Greg du Toit for going and getting it. It's nice, and if he enjoyed himself then that's all good, but it irks me the way the article makes this sound like a really worthy accomplishment...

We (or at least I) have some respect for war photographers and the like, who put themselves into harm's way to show us things we wouldn't otherwise see. And hard-working nature types who show us rare animals they'd like to save, these have my respect too. But a picture of some lionesses drinking which is a bit prettier than the other pictures of this? No.

I remember when I was a younger I found a wildlife photography book at my local library. It was Produced by L.L. Bean. This one I believe. Anyway, upon reading I came to a "tip" that included catching a trout and then tethering it to the bottom of the stream with monofilament. Once placed, just submerge the camera (in housing) and happily snap away. At that point I knew I could never view even the most innocuous wildlife photo ever again without thinking there was something, well, fishy about it.

In regard to the "Audubon" article, it should be pointed out that TV programs like "Mutual Omaha's Wild Kingdom" and Marty Stouffer's "Wild America" never came across as totally serious wildlife programs--I'm not even sure they claimed to be. I grew up watching "Wild Kingdom". Even as a kid in the less enlightened 1960's, I knew those episodes were more fictional representation than fact. My dad used to joke about Perkins and his exploits. By the time Stouffer came along in the 1980's, anyone with half a brain who was watching it knew the show was rigged. Those who would argue otherwise probably also watched professional wrestling. Today, those folks are likely addicted to "reality" shows.

And, in all honesty, who could have watched the marvelous film "Winged Migration" and have believed that manipulations had not occurred to preserve the continuity of the film? As for Attenborough's birth of a polar bear, it brings up a different question of ethics. If you must show a polar bear giving birth (again, for the sake of film continuity), I wonder--would it have been more ethical to put a birthing polar bear in the wild through the stress of a film crew's presence?

While I think "Audubon" is overstating the obvious in many respects, anyone who harms/abuses wildlife for photos is worthy of nothing but scorn. Better yet--jail time.


Miserere wrote: "If I see a beautiful photo of a mountain lion on a tree branch with the setting sun behind, I will admire its beauty—those needing to know whether the animal was tame or not are missing the whole point of the photograph (and Photography in general, IMO). A beautiful photograph need only be judged on, well, its beauty."

Fair enough, but when you do that, most wildlife photographs are unoriginal, dime-a-dozen snaps that any competent photographer willing to pay Triple A Game Farm could take. They sell cheap on stock photo sites and get put on calendars and postcards.

They may be beautiful, but I don't necessarily look at photographs just to see something beautiful. If that's all I wanted, instead of picking up "The Americans" I could pick up the latest issue of Cosmopolitan.

Photography can be about a lot of different things. It can be used by an artist to produce something visually striking or thought provoking. (Captive game shots don't qualify). It can be used to show us things we don't have a chance to see ourselves. (Captive game shots don't qualify).

And no, Greg's lion photos may not be important in the way that war correspondence is important, but he has shown us a new view of nature, even if he did it the hard way.

In short, the reason I want to know a photo was made in the wild is because that context gives me more to appreciate. Without that, it may be beautiful, but there are millions and millions of beautiful photos out there, few more interesting than the rest.

Suggesting that we need judge photographs on the image without any context misses the point of a great deal of photography to me. For that matter, using the word "judge" misses the point :)

Sad but true. Here's another story with the same conditions:

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/whats-on/temporary-exhibitions/wpy/statement.jsp

When it is such enjoyment photographing real and true scenes why resort to trickery? Must be that winning or showing off is paramount to being honest.

I'm also scratching my head about the "sitting in the infested mud hole" technique. Couldn't he have worn some type of protection? I'd love to hear more about Greg du Toit and exactly what he did.

As an example to everyone who is suggesting that Greg du Toit should have found another way, there is this picture :

http://www.naturephotographers.net/imagecritique/ic.cgi?a=vp&pr=104207&CGISESSID=7b88fbc602bfded47d54c369d5c6f437&u=580

where someone (Marsel van Oosten) did exactly that, and came up with a very similar image.

And Miserere - I agree that a crappy photo that was hard to get is still a crappy photo. And a good photo that is "easy" to get is still a good photo.

But I don't think you can entirely discount the why's and how's of a photo in many respects. Would a "war" photo be very good if it were completely setup and faked? Would the Capa shot have the impact it does if people knew it was a setup from a different time period altogether?

This is the same issue with wildlife photography, where context and back story really do matter - people aren't always looking at the photos in appreciation of JUST the photo, but the whole story it entails. And captive animals aren't much of a story.

"anyone who harms/abuses wildlife for photos is worthy of nothing but scorn. Better yet--jail time."

Maybe we should work on stopping poaching and black market trade in endangered species and their pelts, feathers, and other "bio-products" before we get all punitive about photography. The one that bothers me most is killing rhinos to grind up their horns for use as an aphrodisiac--for god's sake, there's no evidence that it works, and do humans really need help procreating? Stop molesting the rhinos and deal with your love life without the stupid magic powder! Sheesh. If ever there were a good application for a placebo, it would be fake magic rhino-horn powder. But I digress. Anyway, photographers have enough of a bad rap these days as it is....

Mike

Some of the comments above really bring this question from the Audubon article to the fore:

"Why are lies anathema in all journalism save photo journalism?"

Seriously. Why go and report on a war, when you can just stay at home and type up a newspaper article that sounds just as convincing? If the goal is to raise awareness of the war, then doesn't the fake article do that just as effectively as a "real" article? And with newspapers having to cut back their budgets and foreign correspondents in war zones being very expensive, why should readers in small local markets have to go without first-hand accounts of war reporting from their local reporter? Isn't it more fair to let a reporter who doesn't have the organizational resources of the NYTimes behind him fake an article now and then? And if an article is illustative, in the sense of trying to show why a given strategy in Iraq is or isn't working (assume for these purposes that everyone agrees that the strategy isn't working and why), then does it really matter whether the events described in the article actually occurred? Isn't the article just as effective in illustrating the point either way?

But perhaps that is going too far, you say. We are not condoning flat-out lying, just a little enhancement. So what if the photographer cloned some grass out in a picture? Did that really take away from the message? If the rest of the shot was beautiful, why penalize a guy for cloning a bunch of grass? And when describing the effects of a drought on a town, isn't it more poignant to describe a small child's distended belly, surrounded by flies, and the way the mother cradles her child, than to describe a bunch of hungry people lying lethargically in the shade due to the effects of malnutrition? Does it really matter if no such child existed? Still too much for your taste? What if the mother and child existed, but there were no flies in sight? Would adding the (non-existent) buzzing flies to an otherwise truthful newspaper article bother you? If eleven people are killed in a bomb attack, does it bother you if the reporter claims it was an even dozen? Why? Sitting thousands of miles away and reading the newspaper account, why should one more or less matter? If a magazine for teenage girls does a special article on a wildly popular (and very attractive) male teenage singer from a rock band in New Zealand, would it bother you to know that no such band or singer existed? What if an article in the same magazine reported on a lipstick that doesn't exist? Would your view change if they gave the fictional lipstick a very bad rating? What if in an article with money-saving tips, the reporter claimed to have found a great deal on a pair of used jeans in an unnamed "vintage" clothing store, when in fact the reporter had done no such thing? Does it matter that the author easily could have gone to a nearby shop and purchased several pairs of such jeans for $2 each? Is it important that the event described actually happened, or just that it COULD have happened?

And do you REALLY want to start trying to figure out where the dividing line is in the examples above? And do you think that everyone else reading this would answer the questions above the same way you would? Do you think a reporter/photographer working on a deadline is going to take the time to think through these questions and come to the same conclusion you would?

Do you think that maybe, just maybe, there is a reason why we try to come up with hard and fast rules (NO FAKES, NO LYING, NO ARTIFICIAL "IMPROVEMENTS" OF ANY KIND WHATSOEVER) for journalists?

'Cuz I don't know about you, but give me 10 minutes to think, and I can probably rationalize just about anything.

Another situation, somewhat analogous, but worse, IMHO, than the use of animal models is the killing (on film) of animals on hunting farms, for use on outdoors shows. There is also the pre-fishing situation on outdoors fishing shows, where the gophers go in a few days ahead of time, catch whatever fish they can, then hold them in pens until the star shows up to "catch" them. There have been several scandals involving big names in the outdoor world, but a "confession" and apology and "I only did it this oncet" [sic] seems to keep the shows on the air. Much of what you see on those shows is faked in some way.

JC

The Audobon article is one of the best articles - period - I have read in a very long time...it discusses the problem in a fair and honest manner, and concludes that fair disclosure is the answer.

For commercial applications (advertising for example) I can understand (and would almost expect) that "tame" animals are used.

This is a complex subject that has no simple answer - apart from honesty on the part of the photographer.

Most of my "wildlife" photos have been taken at the Natural History museum using a 40 mm lens. Wildlife photography is pretty easy when the animals are stuffed and posed in front of painted backdrops. The $10 museum admission price is also a heck of a lot cheaper than a $10,000 safari.

A great nature photograph should not only be beautiful, but should also be a document that reveals something scientifically interesting about the subject. Of course there is a great deal of ambiguity about the subjectivity of the photographer, the photographer's expectations about the audience, and what constitutes a "wild" environment when human and animal habitat overlap to an ever increasing degree, and how honest it is to conceal "the hand of man" when it is everywhere, but we should at least have the expectation that what happened in front of the lens was the natural behavior of a wild creature, unless we are told otherwise.

Nothing is what it seems anymore. When there are big budgets and tight schedules nothing can be left to chance. I've met a guy who worked for a well known yellow bordered magazine on their TV docos and he says that it's all in the final edit. Hundreds of hours of footage put together in such a way to tell a particular story. The use of tethered animals to lure in predators is also common.

But it's not just wildlife docos that use dubious methods. Years ago I lived in Israel for a while on the West Bank. The nearest town was Palestinian and a known centre for militant activity. Film crews often used to be there. One Saturday my friends and I were having a coffee at a cafe when we noticed a French TV crew hanging around. They'd obviously been there for a while and were unhappy that there was nothing going. After a couple of hours one of them approached some youths and money changed hands. Within 30 minutes they were throwing rocks at the local police and soon there was a large scale riot happening with tear gas and petrol bombs. The TV crew got the footage they needed. Whenever I watch the news now I always remember that day and I wonder whether I am watching a genuine news event or some scripted happening.

du Toit's shots are indeed impressive. It would be a shame if they weren't. But the comments here (including the last sentence) and at the Daily Mail prove Ludovic correct--most of it has to do with the context more than the images. To be fair, they are responses to articles that present the photos squarely in context of how they were taken (and, in TOP's case, how they were not taken).

But the man did what he thought he needed to do, and hurt no one but himself, so it's his business and that should be that. We are left with the pictures, which we can only judge against other documentary wildlife photos.

To that end, I wish the remote control advocates would link to comparable photos taken via remote control so we can see what they are talking about.

I'm left to wonder, though, how often he and other photograhers go to such lengths, and how often they succeed.

Finally, this discussion reminds of something I used to see on the nature shows that were on network TV when I was a kid. At least one had a disclaimer that went something like: "footage depicts real or authenticated facts...."

Hi guy, it is Greg here! Always interesting to read how crazy people think I am? I am a wildlife photographer by profession and like other wildlife photographers, I have to go to extreme lengths to capture my subjects. Disease and illness is just a part and parcel of the job. Take Nick Nichols for example! He is and has been a leading National Geographic Photographer for decades and has contracted more diseases on assignments than I can list (far more than me and has had malaria over 20 times). Growing up in Africa, tropical bugs and diseases are part and parcel of life and getting bilharzia and malaria are common place. Also, what the papers omitted to tell is that, these pictures are not just any old lion images! No, these are images of wild lion carrying out a precarious existence on Maasai-owned community land and OUTSIDE a national park or game reserve. Very few of these lion are left in Africa and in 50 years time they might be all gone. I took it upon myself to capture images of truly wild lion carrying out an existence that is currently under sever threat! Yes, I could have used a remote trigger or a dry suite but my plan from the start was to never be in the water, that is just how the project evolved. I do think I deserve just a little credit for being behind the camera and capturing an image of a truly wild beast in a day and age when other photographers are using remotes and captive bred animals? (Read the full story on my website)

Sorry guys, I omitted to mention that at the time of this project I was just starting out with a very limited budget and had only one body and one lens. All the images were shot on slide film.

Probably more photographers should think more about what they do. For instance, are you doing portraits of wolves? Is it necessary for them to be real wild, which would mean to spend months finding them, getting them used to you [which could be construed as petting them]? Or could you use captive wolves in zoos or wild life parks?

If you take pictures of ecological systems in which animals in the same size magnitude as we can thrive, in part to document them for posterity, you clearly cannot choose to bring in non-wild life. That's a journalistic approach to photography, there are many other artistic choices to make.

What about human portraiture, is make-up allowed? An expensive hairdo especially done for the photo session, posing, props? Cleaning house for architectural reporting? You could even ask about lighting, not only artificial but careful chosen natural lighting, supported by blinds and such.

Photography is always artificial, and it is a very funny irony that we serious 'graphers make fun of typical vacation shots because they look so fake. We do have to have our image in our heads before touching the shutter release - not the details but we do have to know what we want to see in the image, what is our subject. Only then do we know how far we can go with our manipulation, and how much of it has to be disclosed under what circumstances.


PS: Let's not confuse what I think about this in general with the specific, legal case of the fence-jumping wolf.

PPS: I am quite adept at photographing animals, from pets to captive wild life to the real thing. For larger mammals and reptiles I prefer captive.

Love this blog. I visit it every now and then. It's informative and nicely written. It's inspiring to see people getting out there and doing it! Will recommend to my students. Keep on posting!

To me, it's like comparing a candid street shot of a person, to a modelled shot.

A photo of a real expression of a person laughing or scowling compared to a staged act?

They aren't even close. Shooting with a rented animal model is like claiming you went on safari..to the local zoo.

@improbable: but the point is: how many photos of wild lionesses drinking have you seen?

Genuine wildlife photography, meaning images of free-roaming animals captured in the wild via fieldcraft and skill, is a wonderful avocation. The experience of being in the presence of wild animals, and getting close enough for a fleeting chance at making a good photograph, can be exhilarating. After 20 years of trying, I have maybe 6 or 8 really good photographs. But I wouldn't trade the experiences I've had for 600 or 800. Bill McKibben's extremely thought-provoking article in Double Take magazine in 1997, arguing for a moratorium on commercial wildlife photography, gave me pause. Seeing a dozen tourists crowding around an irritated male Bison in South Dakota with their point and shoot cameras made me ill. But unless people have some awareness of what we're destroying with perpetual development and environmental exploitation, all these animals are doomed.

Photographing game farm captives? For God's sake, where's the challenge in that? A trainer has the cougar jump from rock to rock, back-lit by a setting sun, over and over until you get that perfect photograph? Meh. Shooting fish in a barrel.

I´m with miserere, the infatuation with difficulty and honesty are far too played up for my taste. For me art is about beauty, and context can add and enhance, but the final image is what matters. I´d much rather see a beautiful image of a tamed animal, than a less well composed shot in the wild. But then again I'm the type that thinks the photographer's vision going in is what makes truly great art.

Disease? Parasites? For kitty pics?!

I'm with Miserere on this one.

I personally avoid any sort of trickery, possibly because I am a terrible liar. But ultimately I will judge a photo by the result not the story behind it.

Doisneau's staged kiss remains a great photo. Greg du Toit's hard earned photos on the other hand, like all wildlife photography, leave me cold. They are obviously good, just not my thing.

"Meh. Shooting fish in a barrel."

Geoff,
And that expression is uncomfortably close to another uncomfortable truth--there are "hunting preserves" that breed and keep animals to be shot. I recall reading a story about a terrified mountain lion hiding underneath a truck that had to be dragged out into the open so the "hunter" who had paid for the privilege could shoot and kill it. That makes photographing animal models seem a little more innocent, especially in cases where the animals are well cared for, as they reportedly are at Triple D.

Mike

Erlik - I wish I could remember where I have seen the bit about that Bosnian camp - my hole-ridden memory doesn't help though. I *think* the problems were that the fence was mostly chicken wire, only one or two people were scarily thin, and also that the concrete posts were facing the wrong way - not sure about that one.

I think I saw this as part of a doc film about images and how they can mislead, probably on Arte, but again, it's been awhile I can't be sure. (It's not the Israel/Makara thing I'm talking about, for sure, however.)

Now - if I remember wrongly, or if I remember rightly but the film author(s) got it wrong, I sincerely apologize.

But, even if they're right, it does *not* change the simple fact that even if *this* one image was not what people were told it was - thousands of others were, and documented the horrors beyond any argument.

Even if they're right, does that make them any less victims of the war? Most certainly not, and I'd *never* say that. Were they any less in danger? Again, not. Were they any less worthy of our attention, empathy, and help? Obviously, not either. What I only meant was they *may* not have been prisoners. But I never said they were not victims. I turned 30 the day of the Srebrenica massacre, so while I was safe in my little home, the conflict is quite present in my mind.

I truly meant no offense, and I apologize if I did.

(Sorry, Mike.)

"If ever there were a good application for a placebo, it would be fake magic rhino-horn powder."

With all due respect for the seriousness of the issue, I find the idea of a placebo for a fake medicine (essentially a placebo) very amusing.

Interesting that while much of the criticism (and just plain opinionating) focuses on how the photograph was taken, such criticisms/opinions in turn rely on contextualizing the purpose of the image (e.g., for the sake of "art", the risk and effort is silly), and we are once again in Erroll Morris land.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/09/thought-experiment-no-1-and-more-inappropriate-alarm-clocks/

Notwithstanding the fact that crazier, riskier and obscenely expensive efforts are made routinely for the sake of art, entertainment and profit, about which we not only don't make a fuss, but fork over billions of dollars a year to enjoy the results over popcorn.

David Bostedo, thanks for the remote control example. It's very helpful for someone unfamiliar with the field to see what everyone is talking about.

You have to admire Greg du Toit's dedication to his craft, but I can't help but think he went overboard in recklessly endangering his own life. Having just gotten back from that part of the world myself, I know the golden rule is Never Get In The Water. Or like Greg you will also get the chance to play peek-a-boo with the parasites in your foot. That's just a creepy image. Ugh.

At the very least, wear a drysuit next time, that $50 investment will save you $5000 in medical bills and, who knows, death. You might still get eaten by lions but I think the insects are worse.

VERY interesting. I didn't have a chance to comment on this post when it first appeared. I was going to congratulate Greg for his perseverance and the "die for your arts" attitude which I think distinguish certain artist types than others and is a trait I admire very much.

So it was surprising to me that there are so many negative comments.

Greg, you did well and I admired your effort. Good job!

Forget about the bugs and diseases--the guy used FILM!

Next Christmas present to myself? A Greg du Toit print of the lionesses. Back story or not, these photographs are outstanding.

"Maybe we should work on stopping poaching and black market trade in endangered species and their pelts, feathers, and other "bio-products" before we get all punitive about photography."

Well hell, Mike. That's a good argument for captial punishment in this ole dog's opinion.

I read an article a few years ago (might even have been in "Audubon"...can't remember) concerning how poaching was stopped in one of the African national parks. The park cops simply killed the poachers. Wasn't very politically correct but it sure was efficient.

Whoa, Evil Sheep! Where can I get a dry suit for $50?! That sounds like the deal of a lifetime!

I'm late to the dance on this one, but I stumbled across an article in Black and White Phototography (February 2007) "Upside down in a Tiger Moth" that describes Jackie Ranken's unique technique of aerial photography. Her technique; hanging upside down held in by the seatbelts in a inverted Tiger Moth biplane piloted by her Father. Dad threw the plane into loop-the-loops which allowed Ranken to get two seconds of unobstructed view with which to take the photos. I find her photos well worth a look. Ranken didn't catch any parasites, but I think that her work reflects Greg du Toit's spirit of "What I did for Love."

Mike might remember this article, because he wrote a very worthy piece on "The Decisive Moment" in the same issue.

Gotta love TOP.

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