Sporting Some Junk in the Trunk

How’s the new year treating ya’ out there?  I’ve been busy as hell thanks in large part to my wife.. which will, of course,  ultimately become a future project post.  The good new is some of my time has been spent doing processing work for this month’s posts… and the next month’ s and the next and th.. you get the point.  Damn thee convictions, damn thee.  As a result of going back through last year’s posts for the year end summary it became very apparent that my photography outings were significantly outpacing my posts.  This backlog tends to weigh on me heavily.  With the new year comes a renewed emphasis to get this back under control  First on the platter is the Indy Zoo trip we took back … uh hmm July 2011.  I hope you like animal pictures, because you are going to get a healthy dose in the upcoming months.  I’ll try to sprinkle in some other topics as  relief.

Let’s start with the mammals – laaaarrrggge mammals.  Interesting enough, I’ve never really had an affinity towards these creatures and after years and years of analysis it suddenly clicked “why” while prepping these pictures.  How about I leave some suspense there.   This happened to be one of those posts where the title came before the content!  I thought it was clever but that left the challenge of finding something that made it cohesive to the subject layout (again, probably goes unnoticed but we do think about the presentation around here).  Luck would have it, we have a winner.

This folks is the one and only picture in the shoot that actually showed junk in the elephant’s trunk.  Redeemed!  We had the Beast with us on this shoot which was quite handy for some of the animals, but there is a downside to the Beast.  It does a great job of pulling the smaller animals into the frame, but on the huge animals, you have to start picking and choosing what you want in the composition.  I guess the other option is to foot zoom half  way across the zoo but forcing that many people to keep out of your shooting angle is quite the chore.  With the exception of some helpful angles on the little ones, all of these pictures only have a portion of the animal in the frame.   On a pure guess, the following specimen looked the oldest of the group.

It is also the only one that had the more brown coloring but not sure that really plays into the identification game.  Based on what I can tell from our friends over at Wikipedia, there are really only two types of elephants.  There are the Asian elephants an the African elephants.  The Asian ones have a more of a crown above their heads where the African species have more of a gradual slope.  Survey says… this is an African elephant.  In fact, all of my pictures turned out to be of African elephants.  Note, these also appear to have longer trunks than their Asian brothers – come for the pictures, stay for the gray matter filler.  Check out the caps on the tusks.  I have no idea if that was a result of poachers before it made its way to the zoo, a result of age or a safety precaution.  Let’s not rule out the option of just elephant bling – they’re not exactly the prettiest things to look at.

The next picture is probably  my favorite of the group.  Sure, everyone has seen the standard ham shots of elephants – looking all cool-like with their trunk, tusks and floppy ears.  What you don’t see much of is the camera shy shots.

On second thought, that might actually be elephant sign language for “Hey you with the obnoxiously big glass, take a hike or I’ll call my big shoe’d friends”  Harsh!

Hit the jump to see more pictures read the rest of the post!

How about some shots that don’t have a security fence in them (sorry, I didn’t take the time yet to shop those out of the shots above).  Since this one was a little smaller I was able to get some of the legs in.  There is something about the overall composition that intrigues me.  They were actually standing on a slope, yet the head tilt seems to balance it out nicely.  Granted it would have been better if I could have separated it from the other specimen.

If you look close you will notice the elephant above does not have any metal tips but they were definitely blunted intentionally like the one in the first shot.  Okay, now for some audience participation.  I am pretty comfortable photographing small birds and animal.  The advantage there is you can usually get the entire subject in the shot (if you want to).  There was a pretty heavy dose of digital darkroom done on these photos which included various cropping options.   Do you prefer the option where only the head is include as in the shot below..

or do you prefer the cropping option where some of the feet are included in the shot as well (see the shots above)?  I have been going back and forth on this myself.  It could be argued that the head only shot above looks like it was decapitated – ready for the wall mount.  Second question.  If the feet are included in the composition does it impact you either way if the entire foot is left in or just a fraction of the leg?  I’m leaning to the option with the legs in and a full foot… or at least a good portion of the foot – the third shot seems to work quite well.  I ask this because this will play out in a number of the upcoming mammal posts.  In the future I can take your feedback into the field and be a little more conscious of the in-camera composition.

There was actually a baby in the exhibit.  I say baby, only in the sense that it was significantly smaller than the other animals in the group – nothing like a 1 ton baby!    This little guy (or gal) kept pacing back and forth along the same path the entire time we were shooting.  Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.  With that scenario, you would think you would have ample opportunities to get a decent shot.  Reality is not so much.  Clearly I was not keeping track of the composition as it moved.  One would have the trunk out, one would have a leg cut off, and one.. who knows what happened.  The following two shots were the best of the grouping.

We have the slightly off angle shot..

and the head on shot.

I will say, the ear positioning changes the look significantly – almost cuddly in a way, almost!

I always like doing posts on animals because I learn a great deal in the process.  In this case two things caught my attention while perusing the Wikipedia article.  First off, their tusk are actually considered their incisors – in essence a tooth.  For some reason I never ever looked at them as extended teeth, but rather just conveniently located horns like a rhino.  On the topic of teeth, they also have 6 sets of chewing teeth that come in over their lifetime (unlike us puny humans that have two).  Rather than coming up from below (an event every teenager looks back on in dread) they rotate forward from the back pushing the old tooth out the front.  How cool is that?  It was not entirely clear what the impact was on the tusks (whether those fall out or not), but it did mention they grow about 17cm a year.  Now for the second thing that intrigued me.  Somewhere along my education path I picked up that the word elephant was originally a Latin term for ivory – Wikipedia cleaned that up a bit saying it was a Latin derivative of a Greek word that references the ivory.  Along with that I was aware that Oliphant was another name for these creatures.  Guessing Tolkien had a little something to do with that having taken it from the Old French.  However, there was another name I always used for elephants and that was pachyderms.  Origin of that for me is unknown, but likely some museum or zoo.  The problem is my use was a little off.  Pachyderm simply refers to hoofed mammals with really thick skin.  Therefore, it is not just another name for elephants but rather a grouping of animal types which includes rhinos and hippos.   Something new every day.

Okay, time to end this post.  Any chance you caught on to my aversion to these animals?  hint… where would someone encounter these creatures outside of a zoo?

6 thoughts on “Sporting Some Junk in the Trunk”

  1. Heavy stuff, thanks a ton. Here’s a cool elephant: http://tinyurl.com/a7deqpk

    I think I prefer the legs without the head. Just kidding! I do prefer having the full front legs shown unless it is a front-on head shot.

    I thought pachyderm meant elephant–live and learn. Neither of the Chicago area zoos have elephants anymore, which is a shame.

    Thanks for the post!

    Ron

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  2. WOW THAT WAS LOW!!!! my revenge will be swift and sharp!

    So I am not the only one confused by pachyderm – that makes me feel a little better but without the lies that were taught to me in my early education (think brontosaurus and Pluto although I’m still resisting that one) it wouldn’t surprise me if I learned that from school and not an error on my/our part.

    now back to plotting my revenge..

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  3. Omigosh! I only saw the cute elephant in that picture. I guess you’re right about where you see elephants other than at the zoo. Never occurred to me for a moment. I’m flabbergasted by this development and can only wonder why my browser’s filter allowed this to happen. D**n filter.

    Ron

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  4. Don’t even try to weasel your way out of this one. I don’t think I ever even saw an elephant in that picture and it took Linda an hour to get be down from the ceiling. In the meantime I’ve been calling up every mime I can find in the yellow pages and telling them there’s a silent movie marathon playing at your house this weekend.

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  5. Seriously?!? You are living on the edge my friend THE EDGE…. and apparently Google Image Search. You forget my high level of patience that compliments my high degree of conviction. I can wait as long as need me to get my paybacks. Will it be a mouse that will be trained to run across you when you are sleeping (we already know the impact that has on you don’t we!?!). Maybe unleash the hounds the next time you are over? or an anonymous membership to AARP – what shall it be.. what shall it be ..

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