Rick Taft  

Chimpanzee by Rick Taft

June 2022 - Chimpanzee

About the Image(s)

This shot was taken at a surprisingly diverse zoo in south-central MA. This shot is a zoom-and-crop close-up of an adult chimpanzee who had chosen to isolate himself from the other 3 chimps in this cageless habitat and perch himself up in this tree away from distractions to contemplate whatever it is that chimps in this situation contemplate. I did not have a large zoom lens, so this shot is also a fairly extreme crop, and even with a 42-megapixel sensor in my camera there is a subtle softness to this shot, especially if you blow it up from this size. That said, I have made a 12 x 18 inch print from the RAW file and it looks quite good. All in all, I think in this case the little bit of extra softness actually adds to the subtlety of Mr. Chimp’s intelligence in ways that would be lost in a tack-sharp glossy shot.

Intent: I wanted to capture the chimp in a way that gives the viewer at least a hint of how darn intelligent these creatures are. Personal side note: I studied animal behavior in colleges decades ago with a professor who was very involved with zoo design and the effect zoo captivity has on animals as displayed in their outward behavior. He made clear the difference between well designed and poorly designed zoos, and how dramatically captivity can affect the overt behavior of the animals. This is especially noticeable with the large and highly intelligent apes (like chimps and gorillas) and also with the large cats (lions, tigers, etc.). To this day, I find zoos troubling places when it comes to these specific animals, so with this particular chimp I wanted to capture a more nuanced and interesting side of him through his expression and how he was using his hands.

Tech details: Camera/lens: Sony A7Riii with Sony 24 “ 105mm f/4 zoom, Focal length 105 mm. ISO: 800; f/8; 1/1000 sec. Hand-held.

Editing software: Capture One 22. Crop, some shadow recovery, tweaked clarity and contrast slightly.

4 comments posted

Pauline Jaffe   Pauline Jaffe
This quite a lovely and endearing image. The image is well composed, focused, and sharp. It is so interesting the way he seems to be looking at his fingers. My first thought was that he was playing air guitar. The only thought I have is that when I look at an animal or person/ what ever photo it is, the first thing I look at is: the eyes. What is the saying? The eyes are the key to the soul. And in this image I don't see this fellow's eyes at all unfortunately.

Nice job!
And thank you for sharing a little bit about your background with us regarding what you did in college.
  Posted: 06/15/2022 19:38:44

Zina Mirsky   Zina Mirsky
I would have captioned this "Looking for my contact lens", as the posture is so very evocative of that same gesture for humans, when a lens is lost in the eye. However, as Pauline notes, the eyes are not visible, due to either the softness of the image or the possible closure of the eyelids.

I have spent much time as an animal management volunteer in zoos and fully appreciate the very troubling aspect of captivity for such an engaged and intelligent species. Your portrait is a sensitive one.   Posted: 06/19/2022 19:12:00

Alec Chester   Alec Chester
Rick, Nicely done capturing the chimps intelligent look. I thought it could be a bit brighter since the extremities and body seem to merge. Here's one brightened using Viveza which can add exposure gently.   Posted: 06/20/2022 14:27:43
Comment Image

Matt Moses   Matt Moses
I think you did a good job capturing the expression and hands. I'm torn as part of me would like a tighter crop and the other part stepping back a bit and putting the chimp more in the context of the environment. Sharpness is there with a little bit of noise but that doesn't take away anything. Being a crop as you mentioned I don't feel like you lost that much quality so be happy with how it is.   Posted: 06/22/2022 14:37:57


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