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Unexpected Hippo Yawn

Unexpected Hippo Yawn
Photo Information
Copyright: Anna Eksteen (Miss_Piggy) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2285 W: 5 N: 5300] (18714)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2009-10-22
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC H9, Digital ISO 100
Exposure: f/3.2, 1/80 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Travelogue: Kruger NP 2009
Theme(s): Loot's Favourites 1, CeltickRanger's favorite African animal photos 2, Kruger National Park 3 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2009-12-17 7:49
Viewed: 6927
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 68
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Hippopotamus amphibius / Landscape

The Kruger National Park is one of the most unspoilt natural eco-systems left in Southern Africa. It is always exciting to view the Big 5, which I shared with you the last couple of weeks. Elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo (which incidentally got this title as the five most dangerous species to hunt). But, don't overlook the other Big 5 namely the giraffe, hippo, cheetah, wild dog and hyena, which make up our Big 10.

Kruger National Park also has the most striking landscapes, and one cannot visit the park and return without a few beautiful scenic shots on your camera. The rock formations, dried river beds, huge trees (especially the seemingly ancient Baobab), the diversity of plant life and the variety of dams and rivers are just a few to mention, but all worthy to photograph and appreciate.

Kruger is actually a mosaic of colour at the time we normally visit in October. There is a great contrast between the tall yellow grass from the previous season, the recently burned and blackened areas, and the bright green areas showing the new growth of the season. Sometimes the burnt grass looks as black as charcoal and those areas where the early rains have nourished the earth the veld is a lush verdant green. That is what Kruger is all about – the cycle of life with all its contrasts. It's just amazing what we don't see when we live in our own concrete jungle.

What makes Kruger so special is its vastness. This is not a 5000 hectare land; it is 2000 square kilometre wilderness!

One of my personal favourite spots in the game reserve is the Sunset Dam, and many others feel the same way as I do, as this dam is the centre of attraction for most visitors to the Lower Sabie and surrounding area. Sunset Dam is situated only one kilometre from the camp and it is the local "theme park" for many birds, crocodiles, hippos and various other species that can be seen there. It is always wonderful to see the animals on the river banks coming in to drink water, or to observe as a hovering kingfisher does its dive and then emerging with a small fish clenched in its powerful beak. Other birds that visit the dam include cormorants, herons, various storks and many other water birds.

The hippos are always present and stopping at the dam one always want to use the opportunity to try and capture the gigantic hippos while they are yawning. I have tried on many occasions, but never had the fortunate timing to get one yawning for me. This particular day I photographed this scene, we were sitting waiting patiently for the hippo to make its appearance from under the water. We heard the grunting, saw the movement in the water and followed the ripples of the water to see where they were going to come up for a breather. Both Loot and I was geared, up in arms, just waiting to press the button, but these guys were playing with our patience. Later on I decided to take some pictures of the dried trees filled with weaver nests, because it really made a beautiful picture. Just as I was about to press the release button Mr Hippo suddenly appeared next to the tree with a wide open mouth and by luck the timing worked for me and you can see the result.

I was chuffed, because I got what I wanted + extra. Although this is not an image at close range, as I would have like it, I think this is rather a great scene. This is just once again proof what wildlife is all about. Always expect the unexpected. Now you see them, now you don’t; then you don't expect them and next you are bowled over when they suddenly appear without any warning.

Please see the workshop to show you this same hippo after the image was cropped to try and show a little more detail of the big yawn.

I hope you enjoy looking at this photo as much as I took pleasure in taking it.

nasokoun, uleko, horias, zulfu, fiyo, roges, eng55, bedri, loot, boreocypriensis, jaycee, Luis52, Heaven, Rehanna, Jamesp, Argus, marhowie, Abyta, albert, meyerd, KOMSIS, PaulH, CeltickRanger, Dis. Ac., maurydv, SelenE has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
Animal Behaviouringridshaul 1 12-21 07:59
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi Anna.
Interesting capture and funny title.

hello Anna
the scene is exceptional, as moment as landscape, very fine photo output!
keep photographing! TFS

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2009-12-17 8:28]

Hello Anna,
This is wonderful and really funny!! Fantastic observation! I expect this Hippo was hungry watching the Wevers' grassy nests up in the tree! :-)) A really fine composition showing interesting details and great depth. Lovely colours too!
Many thanks and cheers, Ulla

Wow, Anna, I think we took a photo of the same hippo at the same tree at Sunset Dam. We have a special parking spot right at the waters edge and I took my photo with my 70-300 zoom lens. Well done on the photo of "our" hippo :-)

  • Great 
  • horias Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 837 W: 58 N: 2084] (11033)
  • [2009-12-17 10:30]

Waw...what a beauty!
Great capture!
The hippo is fantastic!

  • Great 
  • zulfu Gold Star Critiquer [C: 685 W: 0 N: 2] (43)
  • [2009-12-17 11:24]

Hello Anna, wonderful scene shot of fantastic tree and hippopotamus with nice composition and POV.
TFS and G's,

  • Great 
  • fiyo Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1053 W: 5 N: 3475] (15161)
  • [2009-12-17 13:01]

Merhaba Anna,
çok ilginç ve güzel bir fotoğraf.
Tebrik ederim.

  • Great 
  • roges Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 957 W: 0 N: 1329] (6264)
  • [2009-12-17 13:21]

Hallo Anna,
Super capture. Beautiful details and colors.
What funny way, great!

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  • eng55 Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1256 W: 42 N: 1976] (5892)
  • [2009-12-17 13:26]

Hi Anna,
Very nice post.I liked moment you caught,POV,large DOF and composition a lot.Excellent work!
Thanks for posting..

  • Great 
  • bedri Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 111 W: 0 N: 237] (1284)
  • [2009-12-17 15:04]

Hi Anna,
Excellent composition, nice capture. Congratulations and thanks for sharing..
Best regards,

Hi Anna,

Brilliant moment of my three favorite things - a river horse:), tree and absolutely river.
Very clever idea to compose the tree in right side of the frame, looks like it has worked effectively.
This would make an awesome postcard, well seen.
TFS and have anice night!


  • Great 
  • loot Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
  • [2009-12-17 15:48]

Hi Miss Piggy

I am filled with the same blue hue of this shot as my envy knows no bounds (chuckle).
I must have had my lens focused on this guy for easily a ½ hour or maybe more and
the moment I dropped my camera from shear exhaustion you managed to shoot this
image. But hey, who said life is fair?

This scene is still vivid in my mind. What the other viewers cannot see, as it is just a
little speck in the background, is the Blue Heron that was busy "surfing" on the back
of one of the other hippos (just below the shore line ±20mm from the left). Anyway, it
is a fabulous shot. A landscape scene of the "Sunset Dam" with a wonderful bit of live
and unexpected action provided by Mr. Hippopotamus. The composition is great with
the dead tree placed near the 2/3 vertical line. Actually, it just came to me, I wondered
how many years this remnant of a tree will still survive the elements. The day it falls
over this dam will loose a valuable piece of attraction. You captured the mood of the
heavily overcast conditions very well. The details are as sharp as ever thanks to the
Carl Zeiss lens on your little Sony and your steady hands. The colours are natural and
well presented and yes, I do like it, as I'm not completely blinded by my envy.

Well done and TFS.

PS. The workshop is "cool" too.

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2009-12-17 16:18]

Hi Anna,

The fates were with you! You took full advantage of the opportunity given to you. This is nothing short of amazing. The yawning Hippo looking up at the tree is superb. The lovely blues of the sky and water enhance the picture even more. A marvelous vertical composition.


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  • Luis52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1175 W: 8 N: 4240] (15809)
  • [2009-12-17 17:04]

Hola Anna.
Muchas gracias por Tus comentarios en mis fotos, son siempre agradables y me impusan a seguir publicando mas fotos aqui, aun cuando en ocaciones no tengo el suficiente tiempo para hacerlo.
Hermosa foto de este bello ejemplar de Hipopotamo, en su pose y ambiente natural. El arbol en primer plano le da un fino toque de elegancia y a la vez valor adicional a la fotografia.
Ps siempre hay algo nuevo que aprender aqui en TN.
Saludos Anna.

  • Great 
  • Heaven Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 996 W: 123 N: 2341] (7912)
  • [2009-12-17 19:05]

Hi Anna!

So I wish this fine fellow a good siesta and hope that nothing will disturb it. While he's going to sleep I take the opportunity to read your notes. They are so well elaborated and such a fine mix of narration and information. The picture is superb, although - as you say in your notes - it isn't a close-up. The funny tree in the water, the yawning hippo and the wideness of the spot create a particular atmosphere and give an idea of the dimensions and the vastness of the place.

Kind regards


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  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2009-12-18 0:54]

Hello Anna

I have been to this waterhole a couple of times - the nest encrusted tree is superb - but your timing with the hippo is amazing!

Best wishes


  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2009-12-18 3:49]

Hello Anna,
What a well-timed capture!
Though at a distance, the sharpness and clarity of this yawning Hippo are outstanding and the POV great. I also like the composition with the dead tree with weaver bird colonies hanging from it. As this tree is dead it looks like the lake was created to supply an additional waterhole.
A great, well composed image to view!
Thanks and best regards,

Ciao Anna, fantastic capture of Hippo with open mouth, beautiful composition with tree and lovely landscape, wonderful light and colors, very well done, have a good week end, ciao Silvio

Wonderful shot Anna..Now you see them, now you don't says it all. Especially for that occasional hippo yawn :)
Nice job on the exposure under dark skies, and you've combined water, tree, sky, and landscape in an interesting comp.
Sunset dam sounds like a great place, all that water must attract a great many species..You both are blessed to experience this place of such great diversity & beauty.
Well done & Merry Christmas!

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  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2009-12-18 9:03]

Hello Anna,
You were very lucky to see this hippo in this pose: Right place, right time. Very beautiful landscape with this tree. Great photo in natural colours. Good sharpness and excellent composition.

  • Great 
  • Abyta Silver Star Critiquer [C: 20 W: 0 N: 34] (130)
  • [2009-12-18 22:47]

Hello Anna,
What a funny shot, may be this Hippo praying to it's God to drop something in it's mouth...
I like the tree also, very exotic landscape.
Thank you for sharing,

Hello Anna,
Right time at the right place and excellent timing for this hippo photo
Excellent and interesting note as well
Kind regards and have a nice W-E

Hi Anna,

first my thanks to your always soughtful and appreciative remarks on my pictures. It is not given that a nice Lady from South Africa should be interested in one of the minuscule critters approaching my window, but you were.

You talk about bigger game here. Very unusual picture this, the weaver bird nests in the middle of a lake together with the Hippo in a dentist's office pose. You two must have gooten quite worked up in that fantastic Kruger park judging by your encounters you had. Well seen, well captured, the right moment, the right light, all is in the picture.

My best regards to you

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  • KOMSIS Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 820 W: 0 N: 2419] (10674)
  • [2009-12-20 9:22]

Hi Anna,
Interesting and unusual composition more ...
Nice timing.Sharp detail and beauty of the blue color ...
Best wishes,

Hi Anna,

This is indeed a great shot with Hippo opening his mouth up in the air. Very nice tree and blue water. Lovely background. Very well done


  • Great 
  • PaulH Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1137 W: 26 N: 3879] (13882)
  • [2009-12-21 7:37]

Hi Anna,
wow what an awesome shot! I seem to have missed quite a few of your photos recently. The photographer was in the right place at the right time for this one. The tree, standing isolated in the submerged water, helps give this scene that something extra special - and then of course, the big wide mouth at the bottom! A beautiful natural history shot from you, in a well chosen portrait frame...well done!
Merry christmas to you and your family,

hello Anna

an excellent photo of the the Hippopotame that in French we would say
« photo prise sur le vif », excellent timing from you to shoot the photo
the the Hippopotame at that pose in the water, fine POV & appropriate framing,



Dear Anna,
This photo - as you say in your notes - is a double "coup" concerning Animal behaviour showing the interesting nests as well as THE Hippo yawn.

I am in the process of reading a book about Nature's Secrets and I quote "THREAT OR INVITATION: Male Hippopotamuses display their huge tusks to intimidate each other. But the vast yawn sends quite a different message to a female - it is a gesture of playfulness that leads to courtship."

Actually, I notice on the left hand side of the image, at 8 o'clock a dark spot, which could very well be a female waiting for an invitation...

The fresh green tree tops add colour to the brown ground and the grey clouds add interest to the photo! Talking of clouds, we had LOTS of rain since you were in the park end of October, and the bush is lovely green!

I like the way you cropped the foreground, giving the viewer the impression, you were in the water WITH the Hippo :))

One TN member (in his critique to my Hippo Photo) described his horror and fright, when he had an early morning swim in some Lodge's pool, heard a loud splash, and found a Hippo sharing the pool with him...

All in all in, this photo is a beautiful African Scene, beautifully presented and supported by very interesting Notes.

Best Wishes and
Warm regards

Hello Anna,

very nice image from this tree with the hippo.
Good pov and good note.
Fine natural colours.


Hello Anna,
a fantastic capture of this hippo, great timing in a wonderful landscape, very good sharpness and very beautiful natural colours, very well done.
Best regards

That's a fantastic moment captured, at the right time the hippo was with its open mouth. The tree makes a good composition. Congratulations!

Hello there Anna,

What a fantastic shot! Nice scenery, the hippo yawning at the water looks like singing while it was swimming, it seems he enjoyed taking a bath. :-) such a nice view to look at, i also like the dead tree branch as it blends with surroundings and the cloudy skies. Thank you so much for sharing!

Have prosperous New year! :-)
Besh regards,

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  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2009-12-29 12:05]

Hi Anna,
What an interesting scene... I liked it a lot. Very nice composition and POV.
All the best,

  • Great 
  • rommel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 446 W: 0 N: 287] (3628)
  • [2010-01-06 19:44]

Hellow Anna,
Firstly I wish you a speedy recovery.Great composition with this tall tree next to the sleepy " small" hippo - ha ha.I see some of his friends are also in the near proximitry. Plenty of depth in this image.Well done and TFS.

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