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The Road Is Long

The Road Is Long
Photo Information
Copyright: Loot Eksteen (loot) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2006-10-10
Categories: Mammals, Savannah
Camera: Canon EOS 350D, Sigma 170-500mm f/5-6.3 AF APO Ultra DG, Digital ISO 100, UV 86mm Kenko
Exposure: f/5.0, 1/320 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Travelogue: Kruger National Park - 2006
Theme(s): Wildlife of Africa, Mammals of Africa, 60-69 points (Chapter 3), jmp *1, Mammals of Southern Africa II, Baby Animals 6, A study in Mammalogy (mammals) 1, Kruger National Park 1, Song Lyrics, Family Matters 1, Juveniles [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-06-21 13:32
Viewed: 8800
Favorites: 2 [view]
Points: 70
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Savanna elephant - Loxodonta africana africana

During previous trips to the Kruger National Park we rarely saw elephants in the Pretorius Kop / Berg-en-Dal area, but this time was quite different as we encountered an amazing number of elephants in these areas. What were also rather interesting were the many baby elephants we saw. Mid afternoon while travelling towards Pretorius Kop we met up with this cow and her baby while they were crossing the S7 road next to the Shabeni loop. This loop runs around Shabeni koppie or hill which is really nothing else but a gigantic granite boulder that rises to 760m above sea level. The koppie itself is ±120m high and has a circumference of ±2.5km and believe you me; this is really a big piece of solid rock.

I had very little time to shoot this scene as the elephants were already crossing the road by the time I got close enough. I only managed to take 3 photos and then had to watch them disappear into the sourveld bush. Although it was cloudy I still managed to capture this shot at ISO100 and with the focal length at 170mm I was pretty pleased with the shutter speed at 1/320 seconds

Since it fit so well with this shot I borrowed the words for the song "He ain't heavy, he's my brother" written by "Bobby Scott & Bobby Russell" and made famous by "The Hollies" in 1969. I modified the words a little bit by replacing all the references to "brother" with "baby" to relate to this posting.

He Ain't Heavy, He's my "Baby".

The road is long, with many of winding turns
That lead us to (who knows) where, who knows where?
But I'm strong, strong enough to carry him – yeah
He ain't heavy - he's my baby.

So long we go, his welfare is my concern
no burden is he to bear, we'll get there
But I know he would not encumber me
He ain't heavy - he's my baby.

If I'm leaving at all, if I'm leaving with sadness
that everyone's heart isn't filled with the gladness
of love for one another.

It's a long, long road, from which there is no return
While we're on the way to there, why not share?
And the long doesn't way me down at all
He ain't heavy - he's my baby.

He's my baby - he ain't heavy - he's my baby...

Interesting Facts About Elephants
A baby elephant is totally dependent on its mother for at least 4 years - weaning takes place for ±10 years and if it is taken away sooner it will not learn how to cope by itself, will suffer from malnutrition, loneliness, stress and disease and will inevitably die young.

When compared to its weight the elephant’s brain is relatively small and smaller than a human brain, yet it is the largest of all land mammals. Large areas are devoted to memory and scent. Plenty of curves and notches in the brain indicate high intelligence and a capacity for learning greater than many animals.

Elephants have 6 or 7 new sets of 4 grinding teeth during a lifetime. These teeth are huge by any standard, weighing ±4kg each and are ±30cm long! When the last of these teeth wear out, the elephant will die because it will starve to death. Tusks are an elephant’s incisor teeth, which grow from the upper jaw and become visible when an elephant is 2-5 years old.

Elephants have small eyes when compared to their large size, yet they can see things clearly at a considerable distance.

The trunk is an incredible organ with multiple uses. There are no bones in the trunk but it contains 40,000 muscle groups (compared to about 60,000 muscle groups in the entire body of a human being). This flexibility enables the elephant to have very sensitive touch. The trunk can be used to pick up tiny objects as well as weights up to 100kg, as a pipe for sucking water (an adult can hold 10 litres), for smelling, trumpeting (calling), or to grab a smaller opponent (before stamping on it or stabbing it with its tusks). Interestingly, the trunk is not used for drinking, but as a tool for sucking up water and then blowing into the mouth.

Some things you may not known about Elephants
- Elephants sweat only at their toenails.
- Elephants have very advanced listening capabilities and can communicate over vast distances (as far as 4km in normal conditions) using infrasound, sound waves which humans are incapable of hearing.
- An elephant smells by placing the tip of its trunk inside its mouth after touching an object.
- Elephants live to about 55 to 60 years old, though the oldest known is 82 years.
- Elephants can run up to 20km an hour.
- Elephants sleep 3-5 hours a night.
- Females become fertile at age 15-16 up to 50 years old.
- Females can give birth to as many as 11-12 calves during their lifetime.
- Male elephants reach puberty at about age 14 years.
- Pregnancy lasts 17.5-24 months, with male infants (21-24 months) taking slightly longer than females (17.5-23 months).
- A newborn baby elephant weighs 80-100kg and will stand up and be able to walk within two hours.
- A newborn baby may drink more than 10 litres of mother’s milk a day. Source

Post Processing was done with Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0.

ddg, pvs, anel, Necipp, nglen, Matt-Bird, blakitan, dew77, Aaltjie, SelenE, marhowie, Janice, peter_stoeckl, rkailas, scottevers7, manyee, Proframe, betsie, Dyker, jcoowanitwong, SkyF, Alex99, pilonm, Debz, Argus, JPlumb, Leace, CeltickRanger, Miss_Piggy, Rehanna, Ingrid1 has marked this note useful
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To Janice: Oh, the PAIN!loot 1 06-23 01:17
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • ddg Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 867 W: 24 N: 1008] (5507)
  • [2007-06-21 13:36]

Bonjour Loot, great shot with a perfect timing!! This is an other wondderful work from you. I like the 3 D effect on the skin of animals.The position of feet for the baby is amazing!! congratulations, Didier.

  • Great 
  • pvs Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1127 W: 254 N: 3161] (14464)
  • [2007-06-21 14:18]

Hi Loot,

A nice posting,it was the same area where we had our first roadblock (perhaps even the same family),always nice to see this kind of action for real,the note is a pleasure to read,well done and tfs


  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2007-06-21 14:33]

hello Loot,
That's a marvellous picture from nature with a whole story behind. I just love the way the baby is following its mother. It looks like the mother would have had an eye on the photographer!
Excellent vivid picture
Best regards

Hello Loot this is a beautifull shot very well composed lovely detail and light, nice skin textures, lovely DOF and you were so close to the action, excellent write up tfs rgds Necip

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2007-06-21 16:09]

Hi Loot. before i forget the notes are very interesting thanks for all the info. I have never seen a elephant in the wild as yet.your shot shows their power yet also what good mothers they are. a good compostion and deatil.very well done and thanks for showing us this shot.

Hello Loot.

Excellent image, nicecomposition and colors.

Jose Luis.

  • Great 
  • Nilson Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 488 W: 0 N: 566] (4423)
  • [2007-06-21 19:02]

Exelente foto muito bem composta e de qualidade ótima meus parabéns.

Hi Loot,
Very informative and comprehensive note!
Nice to view this elephant with its baby in their natural habitat. The baby is very cute.
Great shot.
Thanks for sharing [picture and knowledge]


  • Great 
  • dew77 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4432 W: 248 N: 4028] (13270)
  • [2007-06-22 2:50]

Hello Loot,
Beautiful scane.Nicely exposed and composed.POV,timing,details and visual impact are also excellent.

Hi Loot,
I like your notes and the twist on the song lyrics, it goes nicely with the photo.
Good shot,

  • Great 
  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2007-06-22 5:24]

Hi Loot,
The scene you captured is so lovely and natural. And the baby is so cute :o) Composition, colors, contrast and the exposure handling is very good. Well done and TFS
Have a nice weekend

Hallo my friend

Rather late than never. I would not embarrass you and express myself like I really would. This darn computer! Since last night as soon as I want to post my critique it gives me the same message: “You will be directed to another server. Do you want to continue?” And that is how far I got. What load of %$*&^#@!!.
Anyway........Let me share my thoughts and appreciation for this photo.
The scene you have captured here is priceless, and as you mention in your notes away again so soon. I think you have done a splendid job and have outdone yourself like before. Need I say that with each posting? It is just a fact.
The photo (I think more the baby) received a lot of attention from fellow family members and a lot of ooh’s, aah’s, siestog, dierbare ding and shame were heard from all over.
I saw a very interesting book the other day, and your photos immediately came to mind. It is a book of the paintings of Lisa Halstead, a wildlife artist.She does a wonderful job and if I did not see the photographer’s name I could have thought is was your photos she is working from. To come back to your posting………….
I really enjoyed reading your notes and the bend of the song. What an attention-grabbing and fascinating composition of facts and information. That alone is worth 10 out of 10.
Thanks for sharing your wonderful talent once again.
Looking forward for the next.
Enjoy the weekend.

What a very special moment to experience Loot.
You have captured it beautifully and your notes are great to go with your image.
Just the best composition of the little fella behind mama, the difference in size, amazing.
Wonderful detail and colour, right down to the wrinkles.

New Zealand

Hello Loot,
Nice action capture with baby in tow, I like it.
You did well to get this one before they were off into the bush..The mom definitely dwarfs the youngster here, interesting to see them this way in comparison..Great detail, exposure, and color. A+ notes :)
Thank you!

Kia ora Loot - Absolutely brilliant! I love this shot with baby following it's mama... Yes, he ain't heavy, he's my baby!!!
Excellent notes too - thanks dear friend

And Now, who's gonna win tonight? AB's I hope!!

Kia ora
Janice - Go the AB's

Hi Loot,
thank you for those rich facts on elephants coming with this iconically well presented image of mother and baby.
Interesting to notice so clearly here that the elephant baby seems to be just a scaled down adult one. It does not seem to have thoses disproportionally large head and feet of most other baby mammals - and nevertheless it is looking just sweet.
Thank you! My best regards,

Hi Loot,
Man, what I would do for an opportunity to photograph those beautiful animals in Africa, I will eventually make it over there, but who knows when? Anyway Awesome shot of this mama cow and her kid, they are amazing creatures as your wonderful picture clearly demonstrates. It's always fun to read your notes Loot,, sometimes I feel i'm on th eadventure with you. :)

Hi Loot,
You got an excellent shot with little time to get set up. Must be those cat like reflexes! The cloudy light eliminates any harsh contrast of shadows. Excellent detail. You hit the focus spot perfectly. A great scene with the little baby in tow! I watched a National Geograpic show on relocations of elephants in Kruger because they are doing so well they needed to spread them out. It is an amazing place!

  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2007-06-25 2:06]
  • [2]

Hi Loot,
It is unbelievable how small that baby elephant is next to his Big Mama!
He has such a cute expression, and you caught him in mid-stride!
Perfect timing as the two cross the road, one following the other in the proverbial elephant line. : )
Your excellent details give the skin of those pachyderms a rich texture.
There is something majestic about these animals, and I think you have captured that sense of dignity perfectly with these two.
TFS. : )

Wonderful shot Loot.
It's great to see how that the baby elephant is looking downwards and is just following mom, while mom herself is watching the photographer closely to see if he has nothing bad in mind :)
Grat image with beautiful details.
Thanks for sharing.
Kind regards, Harry

Hi Loot
Jy kan behoorlik sien hoe grasieus en elegant hierdie grote dame is! Dit is 'n uitstekende foto - jou gevoel vir die natuur is ongelooflik. Kan nie wag vir volgende foto nie. Well done.

  • Great 
  • Dyker Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 136 W: 0 N: 57] (170)
  • [2007-06-25 12:14]
  • [2]

Hello Loot
Normally your notes take me (us) on a mini tour to live through that what you saw and so I (we) can experience the situation via your eyes and your skilful storytelling ability. Usually I first read your notes and only then I would view the photo, but I continue to refer back to the notes as I go along while I enjoy and discover the total picture. Don't you ever dare to stop presenting your postings in this way! Although you did not have much time to ready yourself for this photo you did very well to catch the moment. Mom leading the trusting youngster who does not seem to care much about what's happening around him as his gaze is fixed on her heals and he knows she will not lead him into any danger. The photo has a nice 3D effect and I almost expect a bird to fly out from behind the elephant at any moment. The in focus details on the animals are great and the lighting and colours came out very good considering the fact that photos normally tends to be rather dull and drab. I told you a long time ago that elephants are my favourites so I totally enjoyed this posting on the whole.

Hi Loot,
An excitement to see elephants in the wild. This scene is even more wonderful with little baby following mother. The background is appropriately blurred. Also lovely title to this picture. TFS this fine image and informative note.

  • Great 
  • jmp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1659 W: 95 N: 2273] (8415)
  • [2007-06-25 15:59]

Hi Loot,
Really an excellent photo, with an outstanding composition. Road in one diagonal line crossed with the elephants axis, colours, beautiful background... a perfect photo complemented with a wonderful song:
Hollies - He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother
Thank very much mf for this so complete post!
José Miguel

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2007-06-27 9:30]

Hi Loot.
Wonderful impressive shot of the elephants despite the limit of time. Shot is composed perfectly and reflects the movements very well. DOF is perfect and you managed to reproduce the nice scenery excellently. Your note is superb as well as the heart and exact comments. Thank you for all these. My compliments, sympathy and kind regards.

  • Great 
  • pilonm Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 588 W: 90 N: 975] (3321)
  • [2007-06-27 16:59]

Hello Loot,

How lucky you are to see all that great biodiversity in your corner of the universe! Here you did a great composition of this elephants with this baby following confidently his mother (I suppose)... Do you have signs saying "Warning! Elephant can pass: please slow down!"?

Thank you for this nice picture of one of the most impressing mammal on earth!


  • Great 
  • SkyF Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2234 W: 188 N: 1912] (8073)
  • [2007-06-27 18:48]

Hi Loot,
animal babies are so wonderful to look at and this little elephant is not different even though it is much larger than most of the babies... in cuteness itrates on my top list .
How wonderful it must be seeing these animals in the wild.
Very well captured, the details are nice and sharp and the scene is wonderful.

  • Great 
  • Debz Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 505 W: 0 N: 847] (3307)
  • [2007-07-02 1:38]

Hi Loot, this is a fabulous photo, I adore Elephants they are very special creatures. It is wonderful to see parent and baby. The little one looks so small against the adult. I very much like the pov and the details on the elephants is well caught, nice and sharp with great african light.

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2007-07-05 1:24]

Hello Loot,
Considering the restrictive camera settings that you had at your disposal during a stressful moment, you took a great shot in several respects: the composition and timing, the sharpness and colour, and that both Afican Elephant mother and child are in step.
I can almost imagine them disappearing into the bush.
TFS and best wishes, Ivan

  • Great 
  • Ken52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 636 W: 93 N: 1243] (4195)
  • [2007-07-15 9:03]

Hello Loot,
I enjoyed this photo most because of the perfect exposure. The light is nice and even and very natural looking. Outstanding texture on elephants. Your POV and composition give a true appreciation of the enormus size of the elephant. Nice notes.

  • Great 
  • JPlumb Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 618 W: 158 N: 896] (2904)
  • [2007-07-24 18:36]

Hi Loot, this is so cool. I have only seen elephants in zoos or the circus, so I can't imagine seeing two free like this, wandering around. That would be such a thrill. Your shot is incredible, you have done an excellent job of presenting these two to us. The composition, though to some extent it may have been forced on you, you took full advantage of and catured the two while still giving them some room to move. The detail is very good given the conditions. You can very easily see all the wrinkles on the skin. The colour is very good, and the depth of field excellent. Shooting at f5 you have very nicely captured the elephants and toned down (without obliterating) the background. Oh, and excellent notes. Enjoyed!

Thanks, John

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2007-12-01 20:37]

Hello Loot

Well there is something you don't see everyday.I see a lot of animals crossing the road here,but nothing like this!
A beautiful image of these majestic animals.The baby following behind is very cute.
Well focused with lovely detail and composition.
You are blessed to have witnessed this first hand.
Excellent POV and DOF.
terrific camera work.


hello Loot

nice shot of a wonderful animal with his cute baby, i always
liked baby elephants (in tv documentarys) following ther moms,
excellent textured details on the elephants, TFS


Hallo Loot
My best compliments for this great image. A wonderful scene of this elephant couple. Mom and her youngster. Fine details captured, as the animals look so natural in their own environment. They both look relaxed and undisturbed. Very nice composition with mother and calf behind one another. Amazing how big the ears of the little one already are. The texture of the skin of the female is captured with great clarity and is displayed well on the screen. Thanks for the informative note as usual.

My dear friend Loot,
I am absolutely delighted to have found this photo! In the late seventeens we travelled to Etoscha in our panel van and saw in one day more animals than in a month in Kruger.

We had two magnificent weeks there, and on our last day we drove early to the gate. Soon a big herd of elephants blocked the road . When they finally moved on, there was left in the middle of the road a tiny baby. A big, big female tried to push it along. It had difficulties walking, it was very pale grey, nearly pinkish in the early morning sun and had a tuff of heir on the head.
It moved like I did after the stroke, instead of moving the legs forward, they swung sideways.:-)

At the gate, the ranger told us, it must have been born in the night.

We never forgot this experience!

Thank you very much for sharing this little elephant, and I add it to my theme "juveniles."

Warmest greetings and big hug

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