Larry Treadwell  

Stealth by Larry Treadwell

December 2019 - Stealth

About the Image(s)

My objective was to capture alligator behavior in a unique manner. I am so tired of seeing the typical alligator photo lying on a bank or swimming in a marsh in lovely sunshine. I was searching for something that would show the true character of this top of the food chain predator. The alligator hunts by stealth and carefully stalks his prey until he is within 5-6 feet it is then he makes his move with a charge that rivals the speed of a striking snake. With all this in mind I set out to obtain my dream photo during the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian when the outer rain bands of the storm were drenching south Florida. My goal was simple; I wanted to find an alligator stalking his prey in the rain. I was looking for four specific things: a extremely heavy rain downpour, a gator actually stalking his prey, the gator had to be close enough for a headshot ( this is nearly a full frame shot to preserve quality so I had to do a bit of stalking myself), the gator had to be swimming in a nearly parallel angle to the camera, and lastly I wanted a big bull gator (the one in the photo is about 12 feet). In short, I was looking for the exact photo I am posting this month. Because the storm had just abated I knew the gators would be hungry since they would not have been feeding during the storm so my first concern was finding a heavy downpour. Therefore I was in my car driving northward and following the passing bans of rain from water hole to water hole. I would only stop at lake or pond if the rain was literally falling in a deluge. When the rain passed on, I headed northward following the storm track on my GPS. At the waterhole I first had to find a gator and then he/she had to be close to the water edge area and it had to be swimming in the right direction. I started my hunt in early morning and chased the gators and storm for nearly 11 hours. Over the course of the day I located 19 different gators (not counting the little 2-3 footers) only this particular one was really what I wanted. Due to the heavy rain it was dark, thus the 1600 ISO. While I usually shoot wildlife at shallow fstops, I needed DOF because I wanted the water and the raindrops to be in focus. I had to settle for 1/350 to freeze the gator and the rain although I would have liked a faster shutter to really catch the rain drops, but it was just too dark. For me, this shot is really all about the rain. Without the rain hitting the water this is just another alligator photo. I like this particular shot because of the yellow eyelashes, and the green leaf between his eyes. I wanted to show how the rain actually added to the camouflage of the gator. I feel the dark sinister feeling contributes to the power of this photo. I hope this will keep you out of the swamps, or at least more than 6 feel from the water’s edge. By the way, after I took this shot, I knew I had wanted and so I packed up and dried off everything. I then did a GPS search and headed for the nearest B-B-Q spot. I drove almost 400 miles over 11 hours.

3 comments posted

Wayne Stelk   Wayne Stelk
Larry, you've posted some incredible images, but this one tops them all. This shot is truly amazing - and your story of the hunt is no less remarkable. And your BBQ self-reward is the icing on the cake! Your image is dark and your subject is stealth-for-survival. The raindrops add to the aura of lurking danger, from which the alligator emerges as the victor. The raindrop-ripples look like targets that surround the alligator, apropos of the alligator's mission.

I marvel at the image that you envisioned in your head, your pursuit, and your capture. Your camera technique and post-processing are equally outstanding.

Your image has a strong resemblance to a newly published photo-book that I read about in the Washington Post this morning. The book is by Aapo Huhta. The title is "Omatandangole," which, in the language of Namibia, means a kind of mirage that appears in the heated air. When you look at his photos posted in the article, you will find a kindred spirit. Here is the link to the article:   Posted: 12/02/2019 10:29:38
Isaac Vaisman M.D.   Isaac Vaisman M.D.
(Groups 4 & 58 & 72)
Wayne, indeed very unusual images in this article   Posted: 12/05/2019 08:39:23

Isaac Vaisman M.D.   Isaac Vaisman M.D.
(Groups 4 & 58 & 72)
Larry, nothing to add. Master piece !!!   Posted: 12/05/2019 08:40:01


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