Photologue: Australian Crocodiles E-mail

Photo of Australian Sunset - Click for larger versionAustralia is a land of many wonders.  You could be resting on the beach, looking at a wonderful sunset over the coral sea, dreaming of the way life should always be, and while you're sitting there contemplating, along comes a prehistoric predator for it's final meal of the day...

 

Photo of Sunset - Click for larger version

The prehistoric animal I'm talking about is of course the crocodile which is reported to have been around for as long as 200 million years, which puts them in relation to dinosaurs and the likes.  I wonder what they think of our own feeble few thousand years of history.

 

If there's one place on earth you'll find them, it's in Queensland Australia.  And while you will be warned by encouraging signs promising dangerous crocodiles on almost every single beach along the way (along with all other manner of deadly creatures), you're more likely to find one in a zoo or crocodile park, in particular in Hartley's Crocodile Adventure park.  So, indeed, these specimens, a bit disappointingly perhaps, are from enclosed spaces, yet I still think i's possible to get some nice shots, even under such circumstance.  Photo of Crocodile - Click for larger version

 

While I've clearly proven that I'm no biologist, some quick facts are in order.  There are two kinds of crocodile in Australia, the Estuarine type which can live in salt water, and the Johnsons which live in freshwater.  So, in general, there's no body of water that is safe.  The saltwater crocodiles grow to some 4-7m while the freshwaters are generally somewat smaller at 2-3m.  If you have more details on crocs please feel free to add it in the comments below.

 

Now over to immortalizing them.  Obviously you don't want to get too close if you find your gear and limbs worthy attachments.  While you'll be able to get pretty close to them in zoos etc. (a couple of meters) you really do need a tele- og telezoom lens.  These pictures were all taken with a 100-300mm zoom lens.Photo of Crocodile - Click for larger version

 

Usually you'll be in fairly bright daylight, perhaps with some shadows, but nothing spectacular when taking pictures of crocodiles.  This is primarily because they are cold-blooded, relying on the direct heat of the sun to get warm.  Have you noticed how they may lie around with their mouths wide open in the sun as if catching flies?  Well, that's how they relax, sunbathe if you wish.  In particular the open mouth is not an aggressive pose, it's just practical to warm themselves faster.  But don't forget, they also open their mouths to feed...just a friendly warning, in case you forgot.Photo of Crocodile - Click for larger version

 

Crocodiles are greenish/brownish/grayish so don'r really pose any paritcular challenge when it comes to measuring exposure, but since they are often surrounded by water you might want to have a polarizer filter available, this will reduce reflections from the water surface and give you deeper greens/blues, the bottom picture shows this obviously, but the "floating log" to the right would also look very different without a polarizer.

 

From a composition point of view you often have the challenge of being positioned above them, i.e. looking down.  So my suggestion is to beware of this and try to get pictures of them at the same hight.  Often this is just a matter crouching on your knees when taking the pictures.  While you will occassionally want to include the whole croc, a closeup can be very effective indeed, especially if you get a good eye shot.  See the composition tutorial for more on setting up the picture.

 

So next time you're in the vicinity of Queensland, Australia pop into somewhere like Hartley's Crocodile Adventure and enjoy some close encounters of your own with this photogenic little cuddler.  And remember: Crocodiles are not dangerous as long as you don't get too close (yupp, that's the official local policy).

 

 

 

Photo of crocodile

Photo of Crocodile - Click for larger version

 

 

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