Today I came across a fascinating story by National Geographic photographer Charlie Hamilton James. While most wildlife photographers are interested in well-loved animals such as lions, elephants and giraffes, Charlie is passionate about one of Africa’s most reviled creatures – the vulture. As he explains as the beginning of his article:
I love vultures, and not just because they’re charismatic, intelligent, and physiologically incredible. No, I love vultures in a really sick way too. What they do when they feed on a carcass is repulsive but—let’s face it—it makes for fascinating viewing.
On a recent assignment for National Geographic, Charlie and his friend Simon Thomsett decided to document the vulture’s feeding habits to raise awareness about their endangered status and their importance in controlling the spread of disease. Though it was easy to take photographs of them from afar with a telephoto lens, they had much more difficulty taking the wide-angle close-ups they needed because vultures are extremely camera shy.
After many attempts, they figured out that the best way to get up close and personal with the vultures was to speed by a carcass at the height of a feeding frenzy, drop the camera right inside the carcass so that they were less likely to notice it, and drive off.
The cameras they used for the close-up shots were a few GoPros and a Panasonic Lumix GX7, all of which were battered, bruised and extremely bloody by the end of the assignment. The reason they chose the GX7 is because it has a silent mode, shoots Raw and has a remote cable release.
To see Charlie’s incredible images and find out more about this endangered species, you can visit the full article on National Geographic’s website.