Monday, July 11, 2011

Mugging for the camera

British wildlife photographer David J. Slater was visiting one of the 8 national parks in Sulawesi, Indonesia. The island is home to 4,000-6,000 of the critically endangered crested black macaque. With the help of a local guide, Slater got to know the inquisitive Old World monkeys over 3 days. "They befriended us and showed absolutely no aggression – they were just interested in the things I was carrying," he said. He set up his camera on a tripod, and when he returned after a few minutes, the reflection in the lens had captured the attention of the monkeys. "They were quite mischievous, jumping all over my equipment. One hit the button. The sound got his attention and he kept pressing it. At first it scared the rest of them away but they soon came back – it was amazing to watch. At first there was a lot of grimacing with their teeth showing. He must have taken hundreds of pictures by the time I got my camera back." Though many of the images were fuzzy on the focus, the monkeys seem to have mastered the art of portraiture. While some have suggested that the photos were faked, Slater assures us that they aren't, and his mission statement backs this up: "We live in times when wildlife documentaries and newspapers present us with manipulated and fake imagery, and now we see a large percentage of wildlife photographers following in their footsteps. This I believe is detrimental to truth, to education, and to the integrity of nature itself. I strive to present work that is unmanipulated and to show the true conditions under which the photo was taken....You can rest assured that the images...have been captured ethically, presented honestly, and with the welfare of the subject maintained."

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