safari-photographer.com continues with presenting outstanding wildlife photographers, this time: Morkel Erasmus.
What I really enjoy about Morkels approach to wildlife photography is that bush feeling of his images: The guy loves to be in the veld, and it shows in his pictures. These images are hands-on, rugged, and of fine art quality alike. (When I wrote the German text it came to my mind and I found the words: his pictures are rough and tender at the same time: rauh und zärtlich).
Morkel offers as well photographic safaris and photo workshops in 2013, like in Zimbabwe Mana Pools NP and the Masai Mara in Kenya. Find more about his portfolio and workshops with the help of the links on the bottom of this posting.
Read more about Morkel in the following interview!
safari-photographer.com interviewt herausragende Natur- und Tierfotografen, dieses Mal: Morkel Erasmus. Dieser Typ liebt es, im afrikanischen Busch zu sein, und das sieht man seinen Fotos an: Die Tiere respektvoll aus einer wunderbaren Distanz, die auch ihre Umgebung charakterisiert und vice versa. Oder Morkel zeigt uns detailreiche Grossaufnahmen von Löwen, Wildhunden, Leoparden. Jedes Portrait eine Studie in Licht, Komposition, Charakter und Typus eines Tieres.
Ich finde seine Fotos gleichermassen wild, immer dynamisch, rauh und zärtlich zugleich. Morkel bietet Safaris auch als Fotoworkshopsn wer mit ihm z.B. nach Mana Pools oder zur Great Migration in die Masai Mara fahren möchte beachtet bitte die Links auf seine Webseiten zum Ende des Interviews.
Q: What is your photo equipment, and what is the reason for Canon or Nikon?
Morkel Erasmus: I used to use Canon products but switched over wholesale to Nikon in mid-2011. I had wanted to do so for over a year but the opportunity never presented itself (read: cashflow) – what initially swayed me was using the Nikon D3s for low-light wildlife photography coupled with the 200-400mm f4 lens. I am very happy with being part of the Nikon family now, and am actually a Nikon ambassador for South Africa now. The equipment has performed over and above my highest expectations in the most challenging/demanding of situations.
Q: What are your lenses?
A: I currently own 4 Nikkor lenses which suit most of my photographic needs:
500mm f4 VR-II
and the 1.4x teleconverter
Q: What is your favorite lense, and why?
A: For landscape photography I find I’m using the 14-24mm the most as I really love that ultra-wide angle view and the lens is tack sharp corner-to-corner. When I am on safari I always have 2 camera bodies with me, coupled with the 500mm and the 70-200mm respectively. I will use the teleconverter to add some reach to the 500mm depending on the distance to the subject. I do find that I am using the 500mm for the majority of my wildlife photography – and why not? It’s a razor sharp lens with fast focus and great clarity and contrast. I also love shooting shots that are a bit wider and placing the animal in its environment/context and for that the 70-200mm works a treat (if they are really close I’ll use the 24-70mm for an even wider perspective).
Q: What is your favorite place for wildlife photography in Africa/the rest of the world, and why?
A: I have 2 places where I’ll go in a moment’s notice and that is Mana Pools in Zimbabwe and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in South Africa/Botswana. Both are quite different but offer exceptional photographic opportunities and wilderness allure for the discerning photographic traveller. The Kgalagadi (Kalahari) is dry and harsh with wide open spaces and excellent predator viewing. You can self-drive and track an animal for kilometers without it disappearing into/behind foliage (there really is not a lot of flora there).
Mana Pools is iconic – ancient – mystical and just overwhelming. You can spend time on foot with big game in the middle of vast floodplain forests with trees so large the elephants have to stand on their hind legs to reach the succulent leaves. It’s hard to describe these places as they need to be experienced. On my bucket list is South Luangwa and Busanga/Kafue in Zambia as well as Etosha in Namibia. Outside of Africa I am hoping to spend some time photographing grizzly bears and bald eagles in Alaska and tigers in India one day.
Q: What is your current project you are working on?
A: I don’t have a set project at the moment. I am constantly working on a series of fine art monochrome wildlife images and have some portfolio publications appearing soon. I also have a project with local meerkats in mind but have been stalling on that for over a year. Time to get to it, I suppose…
Q: What is a dream project for you in the future?
A: I would love to be able to do a conservation-based photographic project on a highly endangered species like the Black Rhino or the African Wild Dog. At the moment, with me still working a full-time job and with a family to care for, I am just enjoying being able to travel somewhat and share my passion and knowledge with like-minded photographers through the Wild Eye photo safaris I’m guiding (www.wild-eye.co.za
Q: What are your concerns for the future regarding protecting the African wildlife and national parks?
A: Can I write a book about this?? Just kidding, but I will rehash the same concerns that many will voice. Overcrowding. Disrespectful use by tourists (with no mind for the sanctity of the places or the wellbeing of the wildlife). Mismanagement by those in charge. Over-commercialisation by those in charge. Poaching. Corruption. Loss of biodiversity. Destruction of ancient migratory routes for big game. The list goes on…I truly hope that my children and their children can still experience Africa as it is today – but that’s a vain hope as the natural Africa of today is already much more under pressure than the Africa of 5 years ago.
Q: What do you try to achieve with your photography?
A: Someone once told me that photography should evoke more than it describes. I agree, but it should be both. I hope that my photos give others who might not ever make it here the chance to see the natural wonder of Africa for themselves – if only one frame at a time – and that I could somehow evoke the urge to see this heritage conserved in those viewing my work. I hope to share my passion for African passion for photography with others either by sharing on social media or by spending time in the field with like-minded people.
Q: How do you prepare for your landscape pictures?
A: I spend much less time on my landscape photography than I ought to, and it’s one of the areas of my work that I really can see that I need to grow more in. It’s best to scout a location beforehand and come up with some key compositions that you can run to and set up for when the magic light peaks. The really gorgeous sunrise/sunset light really only lasts a minute or 5. Play around with various focal lengths and angles of perspective (set your tripod low or high for a different angle).
Q: Do you consider yourself being an artist?
A: A great quote I read one day said that “artist” is a term you cannot call yourself by, others have to call you an artist. I would definitely say that I’ve got an artistic bent and I think creatively about photography as an art. Whether my work qualifies me as being an “artist” I will leave up to the viewers. Some might think so and other vehemently disagree, and that’s okay. I would like to be seen as someone who can produce artistic visions of natural history – but I don’t think anyone gets that right with every photo they take.
All other interviews from safari-photographer.com with great wildlife photographers you can find here