In the winter months the Chobe River is the main source of water for up to 180000 elephants. So instead of trying to photograph them in the dense bushes of the Chobe National Park they came to us, drinking right in front and next to us, swimming through the river, supporting their babies so that they do not drown mere meters away from us. The fact that we were amongst the prolific number of bird species of the Chobe River allowed for intimate behavioural images that were way beyond our wildest imaginations from before. In short the envelope of my own wildlife photography was pushed beyond recognition in a few days. There was one big problem though. Our sink bath, with the aspiration of being called a boat, was very unstable and when one of my clients that earned himself the nick name Fish Eagle Serfontein rushed from the one side of the boat to the other with his Canon 600mm F4.0 lens. Determined not to lose any Fish Eagle shots he nearly capsized our sink bath every time! My moment of genius had finally arrived. We needed a stable flat bottom boat to photograph from, with a 360 degree revolving chair equipped with gimbal support and without a roof.
A image rating system was created whereby my photographs would be rated from 1-5 stars – colour rating of photographs never seemed to work. Trying to explain to people that I have actually taken 5 purple images on my last Chobe safari just never caught on. There were a few fundamental considerations in the way I constructed my photographic rating system.
The second pillar that my rating system was based on was the fact that a 1 Star photograph is considered to be a great image and worthy of being part of any professional portfolio. The difference between a 1 Star and a 5 Star image would only be content. The 1 Star will be a stationary portrait well taken and presented and the 5 Star will be a very dramatic image depicting action, interaction and story telling with most likely more than one specie or more than one of the same specie involved. From the beginning I guarded against some pitfalls. Great action and inter action photographs against busy fore and back grounds were never rated. Cute was nothing but cute and good was great. Endangered never improved the rating unless it was on the same technical and story telling level than a photograph of a common species etc.
INTEGRATING TOWARDS SYNERGY INTO AN ACADEMIC CURRICULUM