Moonlighting

I spent two more nights on the roof of the little hut by the water. The weather improved and I slept very well the second night because there were no elephants (aside from a group of 20 which walked by like ghosts after the sun had set and before the moon had risen). Last night, however, the elephants were quite active. I had expected large numbers to converge on western Banzena after nightfall because I traced the tracks of 100+ which had been grazing by day in the dry forest at Balu, some 20 km to the south of Banzena, going without water for 2 days. But as to when the elephants would arrive, I had no idea. The first wave began splashing and breaking branches at midnight, just a few hundred meters to my east. I could not see them until a group of 20 passed along the rim of the lake below me. They moved with purpose and did not give me much of a chance to make pictures. I squeezed of a few framed from my remotes, but as 30 second exposures with moving subjects and without flash, my expectations are not high. The next wave woke me with splashing at 3:00 am, this time in plain view. The circle of around 30 bathers moved directly offshore to an island. They were out of range of my flashes, which were set for the water's edge, but I did make a few long moonlit exposures with some potential. There were also a few giants munching trees behind me. This heightened my awareness. At ten feet in the air the ground seemed far below, but I acknowledged that I would be eye to eye with a passing adult, and easily within trunk reach. All along the photos I really wanted involved a mixture of moonlight and flash, but the elephants never stopped to wallow below me where my equipment was set. They had apparently wallowed there before, but with miles of shoreline to choose from and only two nights of useable moonlight, it was really a shot in the dark. Around 4:30 am, one elephant did walk through the zone and I lit him up. There was no splashing or interesting behavior to document, but at least I will have a single frame of film as a souvenir from the 3-night effort. The next morning, as if testing my stamina, many elephants remained close to the water. I called camp and the others came to watch as a large group waded from the island to the distant shoreline in silver light.View new photography at www.carltonward.com