NORTHUMBERLAND CAMERA CLUB: Try taking a different view

An elephant striding across a water holeAn elephant striding across a water hole
An elephant striding across a water hole
During the mid 1990s, I was part of the leadership team on an expedition to Namibia.

We took around 30 young people from a mixture of backgrounds to camp in a remote semi-desert area and provided leadership training to adults there.

I had my Olympus SLR with me. Most of the others carried compact cameras, every one of which failed because of airborne dust getting into the motorised parts.

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During the camp someone received a scorpion sting, a lad got a chicken bone stuck in his throat, there was a close encounter with a poisonous zebra snake, a gas bottle caught fire and our water supply ran out.

But it was a successful two weeks, with a lot of hard work in intense heat. We recruited and trained a lot of new leaders.

Afterwards, we visited the Etosha National Park. Camping near a waterhole, it was an amazing experience sitting in silence and watching incredible creatures coming to drink.

I fell in love with Africa and later went to live in Tanzania.

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I keep the negatives of that trip in a drawer. I was searching through them earlier when I saw one that made me laugh out loud.

I was sitting with a couple of other leaders when an enormous elephant came striding across the water hole. I took a couple of shots as it walked towards us and then zoomed in on its face.

One of my friends started shaking with laughter. Looking through the long lens, I wasn’t sure what she was laughing at. When you are supposed to be quiet, laughing becomes contagious and that’s not conducive to holding a camera steady. I started to giggle too, and then shake with laughter.

Though determined to get some more images of this magnificent beast, I had to stop because I knew I had already accidentally photographed its knees.

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When I took the camera away from my eye, I could see what my friend was laughing at. The elephant was demonstrating that it was, very obviously, a bull elephant. When I got home and had the prints developed, the picture of the elephant’s knees showed much more than just its trunk, legs and tail.

A few weeks later another friend from the expedition – a kind and gentle woman who had previously been a novice nun – told me that her camera had failed. She asked me if she could get a set of prints. She was heading into town that morning so I let her take the negatives with her.

It wasn’t until she handed them back with a strange look that I remembered that she would now have a print of the offending elephant’s lower half. Oops!

I’m not suggesting shooting similar photos to that, but the best often occur when they look at the world quite differently from how we usually view it.

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So for this month we are going to shoot at different heights and angles.

Get down to shoot that worm’s-eye view. Climb up high, or hold your camera over your head. Try tilting the camera or moving it during the exposure.

This week’s key words are Tall and Dee

For more tips from Ivor, check out his website:

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