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The River Monster - Petra Gut Contemporary AG

David Yarrow

The River Monster

Photography |

THE RIVER MONSTER
Zambezi, Zambia - 2018

The land on either side of the Zambezi River is not, in my opinion, the easiest location from which to photograph wildlife. The backdrops are messy and opportunities do not come along as frequently as in some parks in Kenya. I believe there a... show more
THE RIVER MONSTER
Zambezi, Zambia - 2018

The land on either side of the Zambezi River is not, in my opinion, the easiest location from which to photograph wildlife. The backdrops are messy and opportunities do not come along as frequently as in some parks in Kenya. I believe there are better places to garner content of most of the iconic fauna of Africa. But the river itself and its tributaries have the potential to deliver, especially at dawn and dusk, and it is my favorite location in the world to work with hippos.

The entrance of a narrow creek on the Zambian side of the Zambezi is controlled by an enormous hippopotamus that locals have named Dexter. The water levels can be low here before the rains come, and that means Dexter’s enormous bulk is more on show than the thousands of his fellow species that hang out in the Zambezi itself. This is his home, and he is most proprietorial.

In the months of June and July, the temperature can move from around freezing to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) between dawn and midday. I’ve never known that speed of temperature change anywhere else in the world, and the steam that rises off the warm water during a freezing sunrise offers great potential for artists.

The creek in early morning reminds me somewhat of a mythical Scooby Doo set. Either side is heavily wooded, and this draws the eye back to the water, which, in the minutes before sunrise, can look ethereal to the point of downright creepy. I needed content for this image, which meant many things had to be right in addition to Dexter himself. He is, of course, not a river monster, but I don’t think Shaggy would be taking a boat up this creek in a hurry.
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