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.