The Mad African Buffalo

What makes this image expressive?

I was cruising along the Chobe in Botswana when i saw this buffalo hurriedly trying to get out of the water - apparently didnt like our presence there, as can be seen on its face here, immediately after getting up onto the bank

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Again, harsh midday light - hence the option of eliminating color to better emphasize expression. I dont usually attempt high key images . What are your suggestions when attempting this type of images ?


Thanks for posting some wildlife Karl, always good to see.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the emotional impact of images (an awful lot really!) The subject itself is important of course, but perhaps less so than the overall tonality in terms of its expressive nature.

Think of all the genres of photography that do not have subjects; abstracts for example. We still feel an emotional connection even when we do not know what we are looking at.

With wildlife, especially with eye contact, it is easier for us to relate. The eyes are the window to the soul, and this one is looking right down the barrel.

My recent conclusion is it is all in the Mid Tones.

In this case, the water buffalo is black and its shape stands out starkly against the very bright background. Because all the mid tones in this image are closer to highlights, the overall energy of the image is high. Add to that the challenging stance, and the sharp horns; then everything is magnified and complimentary.

Had the mid tones in the image been darker, the energy of the image would be reduced, the animal would stand out less against the background and the impact reduced.

Of course, a low key image could also work, but would be more mysterious and definitely more threatening.

An excellent portrait of this powerful animal and a great opportunity for me to raise that point. Thanks very much.

Many thanks for your prompt responses Alister. The buffalo was back lit - hence this high key option

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Your re most welcome. Trying to keep on top of the posts.