We are always on the lookout for original, technically challenging projects. Last year we photographed caiman at night with star trails above. When we returned to the Pantanal earlier this year, one of our harebrained schemes was to photograph caiman by the light of the full moon. There were a few fundamental difficulties that we had to overcome to do this… firstly we had to approach to within a couple of meters of a wild caiman, then set up a camera & tripod beside the reptile, compose the shot in the dark, stay totally still for at least 5 minutes and hope the caiman didn’t move. It was going to be a challenge! Below you can see some of the resulting shots. At first glance the images almost look like they were taken during the day but there are subtle signs that the shots aren’t normal; the stars in the sky, the smooth ethereal water, the eerie lighting…
To take these shots, we spent a whole night, from 10pm to 5am patrolling the banks of the Rio Negro in search of suitable caiman. We decided to split up, each of us taking a camera and tripod in order to double our chances of getting some decent shots. Being alone with the caiman on the dark river bank was a spooky experience!
Whenever we spotted a caiman in a good position, we moved painfully slowly to avoid disturbing it. In order to photograph the caiman as a part of their environment, we tried to get close enough so that we could use a wide-angle lens. The long exposures typically took upwards of 5 minutes. During this time, we had fish nibbling on our feet and mosquitoes sucking our blood. We couldn’t stop them for fear of disturbing the caiman! At one point we noticed a caiman chomping on a freshly caught piranha – the last thing you want to see when you are wading in the river with bare legs and feet!
When the Sun’s glow started to light up the sky in the East, we squelched back to our lodge for some breakfast and a flagon of coffee… needless to say, we were totally shattered for the rest of the day!