Sunday, 26 August 2012

Window to a Free Soul

Canon 40D, EF 70-200 f/4 IS @ 191mm, 1/125, f/4, ISO 100

The eyes are the windows to the soul, the old saying goes. Well, this soul is a free one, a wild desert horse living on the Garub Plains in the southern Namib desert. They are the descendants of horses that went feral around the time of the First World War. Their range is centred on the artificial Garub Station water hole, on which they rely for survival.

Canon 40D, Tokina 400mm f/5.6, 1/60, f/11, ISO 100, tripod


This was taken during the amazing Aus Workshop, run by Wicus Leeuwner and JJ van Heerden (they're not paying me to advertise, I'm just really enthusiastic), and photographing the horses at first light is one of the main attractions of the workshop, indeed of the whole area.

Canon 40D, Tokina 400mm f/5.6, 1/250, f/8, ISO 400, tripod


What amazed me is that, despite living completely free for many generations, these horses still have their bred-in affinity for humans. After drinking their fill, the horses mill around the water hole and socialise with each other, offering many photo opportunities of sparring stallions and suchlike. They are not bothered by photographers getting too close, and in fact some of them come over and demand attention, like the one in my title photo.

Canon 40D, EF 70-200 f/4 IS @ 200mm, 1/400, f/5.6, ISO 100

What I like about the title picture is that it reflects - literally - the horse's life and environment. Reflected in the perfect optical surface of the eye you can see the bleak desert which is their home, the endless blue sky, as well other members of the herd relaxing nearby. Of course, the image also contains the photographer (so it's also a self-portrait) as well as one other photographer in the background.

Canon 40D, EF 70-200 f/4 IS @ 200mm, 1/400, f/4, ISO 100