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Kong

David Yarrow

Kong

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KONG
Rwanda - 2019

I have traveled north from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda six times over the last eight years and I have generally failed to come home with anything that does Africa’s “Jurassic Park” justice. There are many reasons, including, of course, my own inept... show more
KONG
Rwanda - 2019

I have traveled north from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda six times over the last eight years and I have generally failed to come home with anything that does Africa’s “Jurassic Park” justice. There are many reasons, including, of course, my own ineptitude.

The first big issue is that these magnificent mountain gorillas are only accessible in midmorning, and if the sun is out, the floor of the rain forest is not an ideal canvas on which to work. It’s a nasty cocktail of overexposed and underexposed.

Second, there are compositional puzzles. It is difficult to have a sense of proximity and a sense of place in the same image; the forest can be exceptionally dense, and this works against offering a wider contextual narrative. In my experience, it does not pay to be visually greedy here.

Third, the encounter is so otherworldly that it takes time to work out what to actually do with the camera, and every cameraman—no matter whom they work for—has only one hour to work. With a troop of 22 or more gorillas, it can be a battle against time to think clearly about what to do.

So before arriving, I had already made a few decisions. I would go when the chance of cloud cover was best and focus only on the lead silverbacks. Most importantly, I knew there was no point in deciding prior to the hike what lenses to take, as I would have no idea what sort of topography the trackers would find the gorillas in. But I knew I could leave some gear halfway up the mountain and then work with whatever the layout dictated. In other words, this year the goal was to be spontaneous and not prescriptive.
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