Elephants in Black & White (and a bit of video!)

During the weeks preceding my trip to Kenya I seemed to give a huge and probably disproportionate amount of thought to photographing elephants. Out of all of the mammals I knew I would photograph I had a very specific composition of an elephant which I wished to capture. I also knew it had to be in black and white too!

When you remove the colour from a photograph it gives so much more emphasis towards the shape, composition and texture of the subject. Elephants are naturally a dull colour to start with and the features and texture of their hide can be emphasised so much more with the simplicity of black & white photography.

My first ‘requirement’ was for a head on composition with the eyes and top of the trunk being the key recognisable features. I wanted the frame completely filled by the elephant with no background of foliage or sky. On our last morning out in the conservancy I had just the opportunity. A bull elephant we had seen a couple of days previously came straight towards our vehicle looking right at us!

African elephant on the plains of Naboisho in the Masai Mara, Kenya (Loxodonta africana).

African elephant on the plains of Naboisho in the Masai Mara, Kenya (Loxodonta africana).

We saw this same elephant a few times, quite sadly he was recognisable by a wound to the abdomen on his right hand side. He was quite obliging though and came close enough to let me try a few ‘abstract’ compositions, something out of the ordinary but still with a view to converting the photographs to a black and white or split tone finish.

African elephant on the plains of Naboisho in the Masai Mara, Kenya (Loxodonta africana).

African elephant on the plains of Naboisho in the Masai Mara, Kenya (Loxodonta africana).

African elephant on the plains of Naboisho in the Masai Mara, Kenya (Loxodonta africana).

African elephant on the plains of Naboisho in the Masai Mara, Kenya (Loxodonta africana).