News and Blog

ZEBRAS – HOW THE PICTURE WAS TAKEN

You may have seen the picture of zebras on the Macbook Pro and in the windows of the Apple stores recently. Here is the story behind the making of the picture.

The raw smell of the earth and a lingering sense of primeval energy draw me back to the Africa of my birth. There remain some wildernesses on our planet that are especially captivating. A jewel in the desert, Botswana’s Okavango Delta is perhaps the finest of them all.

I was in the small town of Maun in Botswana, gathering photographs for my books Untamed, Spirit of the Wild and Living Africa. Light is delicate and fickle when photographing from the air, so the helicopter was booked for an early morning shoot to maximise the chances of good visibility.

I arrived at the offices of pilot Peter Perlstein for a briefing and a cup of coffee, but I already knew when I walked in that we couldn’t fly that day. Local farmers had been burning grass to prepare the soil for the planting of new crops and smoke had spread into the wilder areas of the Okavango Delta, hampering visibility. There were dark and heavy clouds in the air.

Only three days remained before I was committed to fly back home to England, so I knew we would just have to wait it out. Peter is among the most experienced of helicopter pilots, a specialist in working with photographers and film makers such as the BBC Natural History Unit.

The next two mornings came and went while visibility continued to deteriorate. There was no point in attempting to fly then because, even if I’d had the most spectacular sightings, the photographs would have looked flat and indistinct.

I had almost given up when the day of my long-haul flight home came. I knew it was my last chance to get aerial wildlife images. Miraculously, the light improved slightly and we decided to take a chance and fly. But the air traffic control centre was not due to open for another couple for hours, by which time the light may have become too harsh. So we prepared everything, went to the helicopter and waited for permission to take off.

We removed the door from the helicopter, as it was essential to get sharp pictures. The thick glass on aircraft adds a layer which has the effect of softening the image. Peter was in the front of the helicopter and I took up the entire back seat, but leaned out from the opposite side of him to give the helicopter as much balance as possible.

We took off as soon as Air Traffic Control allowed us to and headed for the Delta. The clouds momentarily parted to let the morning light in and we found the zebras moving in the swamp. The encounter was brief. The diaphanous light faded quickly; the weather closed in behind us. The picture shows how the strong herd instinct protects each individual against predators.  After we landed, I managed to catch my flight home in the nick of time.

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London Festival of Photogaphy

The London Festival of Photography is now running, with numerous talks, exhibitions and workshops, inclduing Steve Bloom’s Beneath the Surface: South Africa in the 1970′s is at London’s Guardian Gallery from 1-28 June.

This exhibition has received the kind support of The Guardian and Observer. Hear Steve Bloom talk about photography during the apartheid era on Monday June 11th. Other Festival highlights include Jodi Bieber’s talk on 7th June.

Watch the BBC Audio Slideshow Film , read Steve’s account in The Observer and see a slide show in The Guardian.

London Festival of Photography – South Africa in the Seventies

Beneath the Surface – Steve BloomBeneath the Surface exhibition by Steve Bloom

Dates: 01 June to 28 June 2012
Venue: Guardian Gallery (Kings Place)
Address: Guardian News & Media, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9GU
Map: View
Opening Times: 10am-6pm, 7 days per week. OPEN bank holidays 4 & 5 June.
Price: FREE

An exhibition of Steve Bloom’s photographs from the mid 1970’s, capturing a critical moment in the history of apartheid-era South Africa. Some of these images are being shown for the first time, while others have not been seen since they were first exhibited internationally three decades ago.

 

DON’T MISS THE TALK IN LONDON ON MONDAY 11 JUNE

Spirit of the Wild Outdoor Exhibition in Abbeville

Our giant outdoor exhibition, Spirit of the Wild, comes to Abbeville, France, at the Festival de Oiseau Nature from 21st-29th April 2012. This will be the twelfth giant outdoor exhibition, and we’re delighted and honoured to be part of the Festival.

Big Cats Night – Waterstones Canterbury

My Big Cats Journal at WaterstonesTo celebrate the publication of My Big Cats Journal, Steve’s latest book for children, there will be an evening event at Waterstones, Canterbury on Thursday 19th April at 6.30pm. Steve’s talk will be followed by a discussion and book signing. Come along and meet some of the team from Thames & Hudson who worked on the book.  Though the book is for children, other books by Steve will be available and the event will appeal to all ages.

 

 

Talks

Steve Bloom Talks

Sunday 1 April 2.00 PM with Gill Lewis, Wildlife Tales- OXFORD LITERATURE FESTIVAL

Thursday 19 April 6.30 pm My Big Cats Journal Launch – WATERSTONES ST MARG. CANTERURY

Saunday 29 April World Photo Day Seminar – THE BUSINESS OF PHOTOGRAPHY

Saturday 6 October Wildlife Journals – BATH FESTIVAL FOR CHILDREN’S LITERATURE

June  Beneath the Surface – Photography in Apartheid South Africa LONDON FESTIVAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY

June My Photographic Journey – YORK FESTIVAL OF IDEAS – TBA

MORE ABOUT STEVE’S TALKS.

New Book in April: My Big Cats Journal

Big Cats Jacket_Steve Bloom

Follow Steve Bloom as he travels across continents taking photographs. Find out how big-cat predators survive in tough conditions; how they live, grow up, hunt and have babies. Blooms in-the-field account makes a compelling narrative in the same way that the voiceover on a natural-history television programme is both informative and pacy. The photographs are full of drama. They are sharp and clear, and bring the subject to life for children. At the back of the book there is a brief section on how to take photographs of animals in the wild. Here, children will also find helpful tips about taking photographs of animals at home.

Publisher
Thames & Hudson Ltd

ISBN
9780500650028

TALKS

 

Sunday 25 September 11.00 amTravelling Wild - ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY

Sunday 16 October 1130 am – A Cultural Journey through Africa – ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY

Wednesday 5 October – Shooting the World – KENT CREATIVE ARTS

Wednesday 9 November - A Cultural Journey through Africa – WATERSTONES ST MARG. CANTERURY

Saturday 19 November – Capturing the World - BJP VISION - OLYMPIA, LONDON

Wednesday 30 November 6.30 pm – Living Africa – IPC PHOTO MAGAZINES LONDON

 

MORE ABOUT STEVE’S TALKS.

Talk at Chichester Festivities

Waterstones temporary bookshop selling Steve Bloom's Books

Waterstones temporary bookshop selling Steve Bloom's Books

I am back from Chichester Festivities and am happy to say there was a good crowd and the event sold out. Waterstones set up a great temporary shop in the Cathedral grounds. Future talks include Edinburgh Book Festival, Kent Creative Arts, Royal Geographic Society and Waterstones Canterbury. Details on our talks page here, but I will update again closer to each event.

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Tattoo Elephant

Here is an example of a more unusual usage of my images. A client of the great tattoo artist Anil Gupta bought the right to have one of  my swimming elephant pictures tattooed. Here’s the original, and the back!

Steve Bloom's swimming elephant as a tattoo

Steve Bloom's swimming elephant as a tattoo