Photographing big mountain gorillas aint easy either !

3 Feb

Mountain Gorillas are primarily vegitarians . Visual courtesy Cheryl Mares

By now we all know that the Shelley’s crimsonwing finch is almost impossible to photograph, but don’t for a minute think that big black hairy mountain gorillas are easy pickings. For a start you are only allowed one hour with these great apes when you go gorilla tracking . You are not allowed to take any flash photographs and nor are you allowed to get closer than within 5 meters of these magnificent specimens. Meeting these great apes face to face is without doubt the ultimate wildlife experience

Gorilla Rules from a Guide to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. An excellent little booklet with lots of valuable info

Before the digital age of photography it was always recommended that you use a fast film ( 400-800 ASA ) over expose if possible ,because the odds are that you are taking a photograph of a very hairy animal that is pitch black in fairly low light . Nowadays with the advent of stills and video cameras you have to decide what comes first . One hour of stills ..or one hour of video ..or is it a bit of both ?  Not to mention that you are losing your balance and slipping and sliding on the muddy mountain slopes …sometimes into the odd hornets nest if you are not careful .

By the time you eventually locate the habituated group you are often exhausted , but at the same time pumped up with adrenalin .There is no dress rehearsel. This is it , it’s now or never . You have paid megabucks for this once in a lifetime experience .

Greed prevails...doing stills and video work for the RFCG fundraising DVD Searching for Shelley's finches amongst Africa's Mountain Gorillas

It is either stills or video and there is no time to check back on footage . Greed prevails and you try and do both at the same time. You give your guide, who has never held a video camera in his life, a quick two minute lesson. You hold thumbs and hope to hell that something great will come of it .

The RFCG is truly grateful to Cheryl Mares, from Brisbane Australia ,who has very kindly allowed us to use all her superb mountain gorilla photographs that she took on a recent trip to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in South West Uganda

Proud RFCG supporter Cheryl Mares from Brisbane Australia

Gorilla baby photographed by Cheryl Mares

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