A Fight with Light, photographing Giraffes fighting at sunset. This favorite moment comes from my year and a bit guiding and managing Samara Game reserve in the Camdeboo region of the Karoo, South Africa.
We all grew up being told Giraffes have long necks because they have to stretch their necks high into the trees to feed on leaves, well no one can really dispute that. I d0 however think there is more to it thou, Sex has always been the driving force of natural selection, or rather the ability to pass on ones own genes through to the next generation. So fighting is central to most male animals keeping competitors away from suitable females, in this regard Giraffe are no different.
What makes Giraffe is different from every other animals is the manner in which it fights, bulls will stand shoulder to shoulder (to start with) and swing the necks in an attempt to knock an opponent over.
Now central to this fighting behaviour is the size and length of the neck, the giraffe bull with a longer and thicker neck is generally able to make harder and more telling impacts onto an opponent. As such much more likely to win a fight, so that bulls gene’s (longer neck) will be passed on to the next generation.
I decided on the title “A fight with Light” purely because we (I was guiding clients at the time) were struggling to find a suitable angle to photograph these bulls fighting, bit play fighting. The recent rains had cleared up and the light was very intense, now typically I would try get my clients into a situation that we shooting with the harsh bright light. Fortunately because we were in a valley, the sun was going to set much quicker and mode of transport (feet) prohibited us from getting around onto the other side in time. We eventually position our selves about 45 degree into the light and removed a very bright sky by shooting into a distant mountain. These mountains (Sneeuberg, in Graaff-Reinet) were far enough away to give our images plenty of depth. Moments after this the sun dipped behind the mountains and the moment was gone …