The Insignificant

We often drive around looking without really observing and that is when we miss out on the beauty around us. When last did you stop to have a close look at the beautiful structure of a snowflake or when last did you take the time to see how a bee loads pollen from flowers onto its legs? Look down while you walk and take note of the little flower pushing itself through the cracks between the bricks of the sidewalk. Tuning into the less obvious, the insignificant, sometimes creates the best photographic opportunities.


I had already enjoyed a few game drives together with the guests on my vehicle and our quest for the morning was to try and find some giraffes. These tall creatures are loved far and wide and are often high on the ‘to see’ list. We came around a corner and there she stood. It’s unbelievable how such a tall creature can blend in so well. She stopped feeding as we got closer and had a look at us before she continued to feed. We sat and watched how she slowly moved from one tree to another with an oxpecker on her back combing through her fur.

The oxpecker had now made its way to her head, which in itself might make for a good picture. The giraffe stopped feeding and gave us a glance when the oxpecker seized the opportunity. It got hold of her lower lip, hanging upside down, searching the nasal area for food. The giraffe was not too flattered by this and shook her head to get the bird off.

Oxpeckers can be very persistent and will often try again after being chased off by their host. I grabbed my Canon EOS 30D with the 100 – 400mm f5.6 lens and quickly changed my f-stop to 7.1 which would give me the depth of field I needed to capture both animals. I set my shutter speed to 1/640 with an ISO of 250, which was sufficient to freeze the movement of the oxpecker in flight. The oxpecker again made its way to the nasal area and I was ready to capture that small insignificant moment when it would fly off to loop back again in search of a good landing spot on the giraffe.

Patience is the key.

Jaap van Dijk

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