Making light work
Issue 4 (May 2009) Steve Bloom grew up in Cape Town, emigrating to the UK when he was 24 years old. In 1990 he returned to southern Africa and has built a collection of pictures which trace his love affair with the continent. His inventive use of light in photography is particularly apparent in his animal portraits, and we’ve chosen some of our favourites to profile over the following pages. He says, “Africa for me is like a love lost, but always re-found. It brings joy and pain that remain forever within me. Each time I return, my senses rediscover this land – the tingle of dust in my nostrils and the raw smell of earth when the first rains fall. The warm glowing light of the morning and the vast open spaces draw me back again and again to try to capture, in photographic image, the spirit of the land and the many people and animals who live in it”.

 

ImageOstrich, Namib Desert
A male ostrich crosses the seemingly barren dunes of the Namib Desert in the first light of day. Rain is exceedingly rare in the desert, but precipitation from fog which rolls in from the cold Atlantic supports a surprising range of plants and animals. Steve says, “This was photographed in the early morning from a light aircraft. I spotted the ostrich and took this picture, then asked the pilot to go back and look for it again, but by the time we turned the plane it had disappeared in the desert terrain”.

 

 

ImageBlack rhinoceros, Etosha National Park.
Three black rhinos drink in the stillness of the African night, faint ripples on the water reflecting back as stripes on their grey bodies. Thick-skinned and short-sighted, black rhinos are highly endangered due to rampant poaching and the illegal trade in rhino horn. Made of compressed keratin fibres, the same material that forms finger nails and hooves, rhino horn is prized by some cultures for dagger handles and traditional medicine. 

 

 

 

ImageGiraffe, Etosha National Park
Drinking nervously, a giraffe repeatedly lifts his head to check his surroundings, each time spraying a similar curve of water into the air which catches the early morning light. 

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