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A Seeing Eye – Penguin casts a Concorde shadow 1999

African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) casts a Concorde like shadow late in day on Boulders Beach, the Cape, South Africa

African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) casts a novel Concorde shadow late in day on Boulders Beach, the Cape, South Africa

Early and late in the day when the sun is low, opportunities arise for lengthy shadows to create a dynamic element to many landscape compositions. This image depicts a bird in its habitat. Unlike a landscape when long shadows can linger – if clouds don’t cover the sun – the opportunity was a fleeting one.

African penguins were coming ashore on Boulders Beach near Cape Town, late in the day. I was shooting verticals of a penguin walking towards me with an 80–200mm lens. Suddenly the penguin turned casting an ephemeral shadow on the flat sandy beach. Fortunately the camera was on a tripod with the lens mounted using a lens collar, so I could speedily change the format from vertical to horizontal and zoom out slightly. Even so, I only managed to take two shots before the penguin turned to resume its walk up the home stretch and the novel Concorde shadow was lost.

I watched several other penguins returning to the beach from the sea, but none paused and turned, and the shot would never have arisen if the beach has not been a flat sandy one. A case of being in the right place at the right time.

200 words

Watch out for this continuing series of images – A Seeing Eye –  in which I descibe in 200 words , or less, how I saw, composed and took the picture.

200 words