Pensive Signed LR

Pensive – Silverback Mountain Gorilla

San Diego, CA, USA

(Click on image to enlarge)

Pensive.  Pensive says it all.  Deep in thought, but what is he thinking?  Am I judging him, or is he judging me?  Which one of us is the fool?  I love these huge creatures—the Mountain Gorilla reigns supreme.  Until the mid 19th-Century they were thought to be a myth, the figment of  some poor explorer’s fever-racked imagination.  This large Silverback resides at the San Diego Wild Animal Park, and I had the opportunity (and privilege) to photograph him in 2009.  I spent quite a bit of time with this gentle giant, and he never once broke character—he was the patriarch, royalty and the ‘biggest mutha’ on the block.  As mentioned before, he is a bucket list item, but first I have to get to Rwanda, Congo or Uganda to see him up close and personal.  Until then this photo will have to suffice.

Photographer’s note:  This image was captured as a ‘fine’ JPEG file (before I started shooting CameraRAW) with my first DSLR:  A Canon EOS Rebel XSi camera with a Canon EF  100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM zoom super telephoto lens.  Originally captured in 2009 I just recently reworked the file in PSE11.  I tightly cropped his interesting face to isolate his pensive look, and threw the background into deep shadow to further isolate his expression.  I converted the original color image to B&W, boosted the contrast to give the image a more retro B&W look, burned the background and dodged the face and then sharpened his face to enhance his wrinkles (1.5 radius @ 80%).  The final image is reminiscent of an old Hollywood studio 8×10 glossy portrait from the 1930’s, 40’s or 50’s (except for the subject matter—unless, of course, you count King Kong).

Camera settings:  1/400s @ f/5.6, ISO 800, FL=400mm/FOV=640mm (with 1.6x XSi crop sensor factor), Manfrotto unipod.   


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