Giraffe Photo Pack – Just a Click Away

Giraffe image from Giraffe Photo PackGiraffe male and female in acacia thornveld, Weenen Nature Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. (One of the 15 photos included in the Giraffe Pack, shown here at reduced size).

If you’re looking for some free wildlife photos, I’m offering a range of Wildlife Photo Packs, including this Giraffe Pack, at no cost. They were previously available on my website for $10 each but now you can get them in return for a simple click – see below.

Each pack contains 15 images plus an index sheet and text file with captions. Images are between 1200-1500 pixels on the long side and of decent quality, so can be used for a variety of purposes, including art reference, digital presentations, crafts, and on websites or print publications.

To find out more about the full range of packages, and how images may and may not be used, please see Wildlife and Nature Photo Packs.

To download the zip file with giraffe images included, please see >Giraffe Photo Pack.

Giraffe Straddling its Legs to Drink

Giraffe straddling forelegs to drink Caption: Male giraffe, with forelegs straddled wide, lifts its head while drinking from waterhole, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe.

Camera: Canon EOS 50D; Lens Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM; Focal length 400mm; Shutter speed: 1/1600; Aperture: f/5.6; ISO 400; Exposure compensation: +0.7

Giraffe, when drinking, will either straddle the forelegs, bend the forelegs at the knees, or a combination of the two. Where there is a downhill slope to the water, a giraffe will often splay the front legs slightly and then bend them for better balance.

This straddling, splaying and bending of the legs is essential for the giraffe’s head to reach the water as the forelegs are longer than the neck.

Giraffes drinking with legs straddled and bent

Two giraffe drinking, one with forelegs bent (left) and the other with forelegs straddled or splayed.

In this position, giraffe are very vulnerable to attack so will not adopt the stance lightly. Before drinking, they check their surroundings carefully, often pausing, hesitating, and backing away before committing themselves.

While drinking, they also lift their heads frequently, leaving a trail of spray and agitated oxpeckers, which can provide good photo opportunities.

Giraffe Using its Tongue to Pluck Green Leaves

Giraffe using tongue to pluck leaves

Photo Details: Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) at full stretch, using its long tongue to pluck choice green leaves from upper branches, Kruger National Park, South Africa.
Camera: Canon EOS 450D (Canon Rebel XSi 12.2MP); Lens: Canon 70-200 F2.8L IS USM; Focal Length: 200mm; Shutter speed: 1/400; Aperture: f/8; ISO: 400; Exposure compensation: +2/3; Date: 28 Oct 2009, 8.49am.

Additional Info: The giraffe has a long, prehensile tongue (i.e. adapted for grasping, especially by wrapping around an object) that can be up to 45cm (18″) long. This, combined with a dextrous upper lip, allows the giraffe to manipulate the branches so it can get its tongue in between thorns or twigs and strip only the succulent leaves. In this way it can feed selectively while still consuming the quantity of foliage needed to sustain its massive bulk.

In the above image, the sky is totally washed out with no detail as I over-exposed by 2/3 of a stop. It was overcast yet reasonably bright, conditions in which the camera’s meter can easily be fooled when aiming up at a subject with plenty of sky in the background. In these circumstances, the meter can be unduly influenced by the bright area, expsosing for the sky and under-exposing the subject — so you end up with a nicely exposed sky and a giraffe in silhouette.

But I wanted the giraffe correctly exposed, showing detail in its face, and to achieve this I was happy to let the sky blow out. Although our eyes can adjust to see both the detail in the foreground subject and in the backround (or in the shadows and highlights), digital sensors (and film) don’t have sufficient latitude to show both correctly, so compromises have to be made.

Exposure compensation, where a degree of over-exposure is selected (the + side of the indicator), is usually necessary when aiming the camera upwards where there’s bright sky in the backgroud, as when photographing a giraffe’s head or, more commonly, a bird in the upper branches of a tree. In the same way, you may need to under-expose slightly ( – side of the indicator) if you want to make your subject darker, as when photographing a wet elephant.

Young Male Giraffe, Head and Neck View

Young male giraffe, close-up of head and neck

Photo Details: Head and neck view of a young male giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) against a backdrop of typical winter bushveld vegetation, Weenen Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Camera: Canon EOS 450D (Canon Rebel XSi 12.2MP); Lens: Canon EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM; Focal Length: 300mm; Shutter speed: 1/320; Aperture: f8; ISO: 200; 12 August 2009, 11.50am.

Young Male Giraffes

Young male giraffes

Photo Details: A pair of young male giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) pause briefly during a browsing session, Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana.

Camera: Canon EOS 450D (Canon Rebel XSi 12.2MP); Lens: Canon EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM; Focal Length: 300mm; Shutter speed: 1/40; Aperture: f8; ISO: 400; 30 May 2009, 5.15pm.

Additional Info: Giraffes are the tallest of all land animals, with adult males growing to around 5m (16ft) from head to toe. This exceptional height means they are perfectly suited to browsing leaves from the upper branches of trees, thus utilising a food source not available to any other browsers. The downside is that giraffes can only live in areas where there are trees and tall bushes to provide essential food. They use their long tongues to pluck green leaves and shoots from between the thorns of acacia trees, one of their favorite food sources (see also Giraffe Adds Tasty Morsels to its Daily Diet)

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