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The first cut is the deepest

The first cut is the deepest
Photo Information
Copyright: Gerhard Theron (gerhardt) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1936 W: 244 N: 4106] (11620)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2005-01-29
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon EOS 300D, Canon EF 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6L IS USM, Digital ISO 200, Hoya UV-Guard (77mm)
Exposure: f/8, 1/125 seconds
Details: (Fill) Flash: Yes
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Photos with titles of songs, Birds of Southern Africa, 50 points or more - 50 puntos o más, Interacting birds, The predator with the Prey [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2005-01-30 13:02
Viewed: 6303
Favorites: 3 [view]
Points: 74
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Southern Yellowbilled Hornbill
Tockus leucamelas

Also know as: Afrikaans: Geelbekneushoringvoël, German: Gelbschnabeltoko, French: Calao leucomčle

leucomelas: Greek leykos, white or bright; melas, black
tockus: French le tock, a hornbill, a name supposedly derived by Buffon (1770) from an onomatopoeic Senegalese name.

They can be found from South Africa to North-east Africa. In RSA in Northern Cape, West Free State, Northen KwaZulu-Natal, Central Transvaal and from North-east Namibia northwards.

They normally prey on Rodents, insects, scorpions, solifugids, centipedes, seeds, fruit. But not this one! It decided that the smaller chicks are to his liking. I think this chick featured in the photo is a Helmeted Guinea fowl. I was a witness to the whole spectacle. The Hornbill gave the chick a peck on the head which knocked it out. Slowly he started to eat the chick. Though I consider myself lucky to see this spectacle I can’t help to feel sorry for the defenceless chick. As I progressed through the aviary I noticed two other carcasses. There were a lot of Guinea fowl and most of them had chicks. I guess that nature will always take it’s course and that a bird who is used to a balanced diet of meat, fruit and seeds will not revert its way easily. Once a hunter…

I do hope you find this fascinating as I did. I took more that 50 photos of the macabre scene and might post a more gruesome one later. As I was not at home during the weekend and am therefore a bit behind in my critiques but will catch up shortly.

Technical data
Time of day: 9:28 AM
Weather conditions: Slightly overcast
Focal length: 160mm
Flash: Canon Speedlight 550, Patterned
Tripod: None, handheld
Camera mode: Aperture priority
Photoshop CS: Cropped, USM (300,0.8,0), adjusted levels, saturation +10. NeatImage.

willie, PDP, ellis49, elroyie, miqra, liquidsunshine, pompey, livios, scottevers7, Signal-Womb, thiagobr, rlortie, radz, red45, mogens-j, carper, europhoto, extramundi, Luc, deud has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To deud: Distance from subject...gerhardt 1 02-03 09:20
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Critiques [Translate]

Great shot!
First of all amazing situation. We don't see many photos like this on TN.
Great pose of the Hornbill. Great composition and POV.
I really like it.
Well done!!!

  • Great 
  • willie Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1023 W: 61 N: 648] (2083)
  • [2005-01-30 13:14]

At the top of the pile Gerhard. Absolutely stunning.
great work

  • Great 
  • PDP Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor [C: 2821 W: 344 N: 3779] (11769)
  • [2005-01-30 13:20]

Ouch! I've said it before and I'll day it again; these birds is ugly but I also see they are ugly in soul too. Seriously, it's a great capture Gerhard, very well seen and I love shots like this that show the animal 'living'. Very good.

Great shot Gerhard, you catch a real moment of nature.
Very good sharpness, composition and note.
Great work

  • Great 
  • Callie Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1101 W: 95 N: 2610] (7555)
  • [2005-01-30 14:20]

Dis goed as jy so 'n bietjie groen is, ek moes al baie mugshots van jou swaar afsluk, EN nog 'n tiek maak vir nog 'n wishlist foto.
En nou het ek jou nota gelees, en is alweer groen dat jy dit gesien het - Pietta sę woedend!
Pragtige foto. maar wat jy gesien het is nog beter! Baie ggoed gedoen. Ek is so af van my trollie dat ek alles Afr skryf!

  • Great 
  • puffy Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 289 W: 0 N: 339] (1351)
  • [2005-01-30 15:08]

HI Gerhard, good capture, sharp detail.. I agree with thistle, not many photos like this on TN.
When I first saw it, "yurk" is my first word, but after looking at the photo with "photographer" mood, this photo is very nicely taken, it is not only you have capture a photo, but also capture a real life cycle, living and dead. Well done, Gerhard. Thanks for sharing.

Yami :)

Great picture with very good timing, Excellent quality.

  • Great 
  • miqra Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Note Writer [C: 140 W: 3 N: 23] (151)
  • [2005-01-30 15:30]

This shot is perfection personified, the work of an artist, detail and colors flow perfectly with the rest of the composition, well done!

Excellent shot Gerhard,
The sharpness and details are amazing.
Great notes. I'm looking forward to seeing part 2.
Thanks for posting

  • Great 
  • pompey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 144 W: 4 N: 746] (2774)
  • [2005-01-30 15:53]

Great shot Gerhard, pin sharp image with great texture.
He really stands out against the background.
Good note also.
Well captured!

I thought them hornbills to be quite funny birds. Seems that this one aquired a bloody taste though...
The picture itself is outstanding - the theme very interesting... you sould get 4 point for this one !

Composed by Cat Stevens, but I love Rod Stewart's cover :-) Added to the related theme. Very good title for this cruel shot, and wonderful close up of the hornbill. I like very much the fact that your DOF just covers the predator, leaving the victim a bit oof. Splendid sharpness on feathers, revealing their beautiful texture and color. Great shot, Gerhard.

  • Great 
  • livios Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2150 W: 319 N: 4263] (16942)
  • [2005-01-30 16:48]

Gerhard, another brilliant work of yours with a great title - I enjoy this song.

Excellent sharpness, POV, DOF and background. The expression in the eye of the bird is amazing.

Dramatic and strong picture.



Great capture. It is nature taking its course. Well composed, with great color and detail.

A moment in time perfectly captured...an excellent photo.

Not only is the quality of this shot excellent but you have caught a great moment here. This is just brilliant. Well done.

What an action shot Gerhard. I like it. Good DOF and POV. Unusual on TN and very interesting. Looking forward for more of this series.

  • Great 
  • azulu Gold Star Critiquer [C: 111 W: 0 N: 75] (374)
  • [2005-01-30 22:02]

Very nice composition Gerhard. Great moment. Colours and sharpness are excellent. POV too. Very interesting shot.



  • Great 
  • jossim Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1538 W: 5 N: 2240] (12636)
  • [2005-01-30 22:55]

Super ! Je n'ai encore plus rien ŕ rajouter. Fantastique fhoto et FÉLICITATIONS !

  • Great 
  • radz Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 598 W: 11 N: 72] (436)
  • [2005-01-30 22:58]

What a catch,got nice moment to capture.Fantastic shot.

  • Great 
  • Nico Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 199 W: 1 N: 335] (1321)
  • [2005-01-31 1:12]

Excellent! Good POV and detail. Somehow you also managed to get a devilish look in the eye... Nice work!

It looks like a cruel. savage murder :-(((
Brrrr, I'm affraid of him.
But... picture very well done.

Die details is fantasties, die scene is yuck.. :) It is a beautiful photo, details are amazing.. Well done !!!


  • Great 
  • red45 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2636 W: 74 N: 9091] (31094)
  • [2005-01-31 4:48]

Looks Jurrasick :-) Or maybe sick for someone :-) Great action photo. Death is sad in all forms but if one bird didn't kill, die itself. Superb quality.

Pose, sharpness and POV are perfect. focus is not exactly on the eye but it doesn't disturb.
Well done.

  • Great 
  • japie Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1814 W: 100 N: 1904] (5187)
  • [2005-01-31 9:48]

Hierdie is ongelooflik, en soos ek gisteraand vir jou gesę het, ek dink hierdie is jou beste skoot nog!

The sharpness and composition is superb! This is a great moment, caught incredibly well.


Very interesting capture Gerhard - fascinating to see a capture of the every-day life, even when it gets rough. Details are great and the soft colours works great here. Great composition/cropping.

  • Great 
  • carper Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1973 W: 119 N: 2582] (8439)
  • [2005-01-31 12:58]

He thats Callies Birdy,
Very good capture you made here, I did not know that the hornbills are meat eaters, very good composing shot with an exelent dof, very good job Gerhardt.

Great light and composition here, congratulations Gerhard! Colors are also amazingly natural. thanks.

All depends on the food available... I have seen seagulls predating doves here. Very, very good shot, very nice DOF and composition.

Gerhard, you have captured an impressive moment in time. POV and composition are ecxcellent. Note is great. Sharpness and detail is unbelievable.
I think this is your best shot so far.

  • Great 
  • Luc Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1835 W: 301 N: 4287] (14767)
  • [2005-02-01 19:21]

A real Trek Nature capture, Gerhard.

  • Great 
  • edji Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Note Writer [C: 83 W: 8 N: 22] (426)
  • [2005-02-02 9:25]

Very great shot. That bird seems to be very angry.... and hungry.

  • Great 
  • deud Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 438 W: 11 N: 534] (2540)
  • [2005-02-03 2:59]
  • [+]

amazing shot! i see the focal length is only 160! this bird is not scared? you are so near from her!

The big guy looks vicious........ poor baby, but I eat meat too, so what can I say?

İts very very angry bird
Thats a wild live
Great picture
Excellent POV, DOF
Great composition

  • Great 
  • fthsm Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 172 W: 56 N: 512] (3689)
  • [2006-09-26 17:59]

Very lucky for you but also tragic composition. Excellent photograph.

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