Day 62/100

Peace on Pastel

If you’ve never been at water level next to a humpback whale slipping beneath the waves, it goes something like this …

A deep resonant draw of breath, an inhalation of air.

A little lift of its head, then a sinuous pulse of energy down it’ spine.

Bending, then arching, it’s head now pointed down.

Now for the magic, the final stroke, a 15ft foil emerges dripping with colour, held aloft for the briefest of moments. 

With purpose and meaning all slips beneath, silent, save for the gurgling of vortices spinning delighted by touch.

You stare, you wonder. you question it all.

How can such a great beast vanish with so peaceful a passing?

Day 63/100

Of Might and Magnitude

The Humpback whale,17m long and weighing up to 40 tons, these great mammals swim from tropics to pole, and back again in the space of a year.

The term giant generally reflects size, but in this case it is a word that covers many facets. They are amongst the largest creatures alive, but they are also endurance athletes of incredible capability. They endure water temperatures from 1C -30C in their migrations that may be up to 16,000km per year.

Coupled to this, they are brave and deeply caring creatures who have strong bonds with their young that often involve protecting them from formidable adversaries like orcas.

Day 64/100

After the Fall, the Rise

Teetering on the knife edge of extinction in the 1960’s, the humpback whale population was all but extirpated. From many 100’s of thousands, down to just 5000 worldwide.

In my early years as a photographer working offshore on the South African coast during the early 1990’s we hardly saw them, and it was an amazing sighting when we irregularly stumbled across one.

Today that has changed with estimates putting the population at somewhere near 135,000.

In my lifetime on the ocean I have personally witnessed and photographed this resurgence to the point that in the past half decade, Monique and I have been surrounded by feeding groups numbering nearly 200.

These ballerinas of the sea are indeed the poster child of what can be achieved when we collectively decide to respect, consider and avail ourselves to the notion that the planet belongs to, and is dependent upon, all creatures and not just our own kind.

Limited Edition Print – After the Fall, the Rise

Day 65/100


One of my main objectives as a photographer interacting with wildlife at close quarters, is to do my utmost to be respectful.

It is easy to forget this when an incredible opportunity avails itself, and I too have got caught up in the moment where the photograph becomes everything, losing sight of the fact that I am a guest in their world.

At times like this it is easy to create imagery that misrepresents an animal, and whilst a charging elephant or snarling lion may well garner more eye balls, that it not what I am after capturing.

For me the greatest reward of my time with an animal is when it behaves like I am no longer even there, and if I can at the same time take a photograph that has a sense of artistry in it, then I feel I have optimised the privileged moment of their tolerance.

Day 66/100

Shafts of Enlightenment

There are but a few female elephants that remain with tusks that hanker to touch the ground. This female is one I have photographed many times. She is bold, beautiful and proud, powerfully and defiantly carrying her poisoned chalice aloft.

On this wonderful evening, she approached to within a few meters of where I lay. She had many alternate paths that she could have walked, but she chose the one that involved trust.

With beams of sun caressing her rapiers, I photographed not a trophy, but rather a teacher of tolerance.

Day 67/100

March of the Matriarch

When I conceptualise an image, I look for mood, engaging composition and iconic representatives of a species.

Whilst the mood and composition can to a certain extent be planned for by knowing various habitats, backgrounds and climatic conditions that lend to the look and feel of what I am after, finding a truly iconic individual wild animal that stands head and shoulders above it’s conspecific compatriots, is never easy.

I am trying to tell the story of something exceptional, and thus finding such an animal should be difficult.

This female is an example of such a truly rare individual.

She is one of two exceptional sisters in the same herd we have encountered over recent years that have huge crisscrossing tusks. She is magnificent, and the epitome of a species.

The fact that she is caring, unwavering and proud in her duty of leading her herd, elevates her even more in the pantheon of natural icons.

Day 68/100

A part of their world if only for an instant

Yes, my aim is to try and create exceptional artistic imagery that tells the story of our planet’s icons.

I do this so that we can remember what we have lost, celebrate what we still have, and work towards a future of sharing, rather than conquering our planet.

In this pursuit I look at each of my images and am reminded of a moment of my life which seemed so fleeting at the time.

I am reminded of a split second, a minute, an hour perhaps, where I was humbly one with them.

I was a part of their wonderful world that the power of a photograph allows to be frozen, and serves as an inspiration to wish for more.

Day 69/100


Is it more important to get the line of the sea, or the line of the land straight? Or perhaps even more crucially, that of my subject?

 I don’t know the answer, and would you have even questioned if I hadn’t asked?

Sometimes in life we can look too much for perfection and get caught up in missing out on the bigger picture.

Day 70/100

A Tail above Tranquility

I lift my tail into the air before crashing it down upon the sea to call my kind who are deep below.

Sometimes I slap my fluke, whilst other times I flap my flipper.

To you, it may seem nothing other than a curious passing gesture, but to our kind it signals romance, food and stature.

Day 71/100

Seeds of Change

A fruit today, a seed tomorrow, a shade and sustenance for generations to come.

It is now you who is tall, as I stretch to reach your gift, because you have grown so high in your quest to reach the sun.

And it is from your fruit that I will pass the seeds that once again will close the circles embrace.

Day 72/100

The Night Shift

A company of South Luangwa bulls move nervously through their wooded embrace, a cloak of stem and leafy guise. Raiders of the night, on their way to seek mango and maize in surrounding fields. A spear, a chilli bomb or worse await, but what choice do they have in their shrinking world?

Day 73/100

The Red Carpet

And Oscar for lifetime achievement award goes to … Loxodonta Africana!

Awarded for their role in shaping a continent’s identity, giving meaning to all that is wild, and setting an extraordinary example of how to look after family in the face of overwhelming adversary.

Day 74/100


There are minute details when you capture an image from water level that the eye fails in the moment of capture to see. The beautiful mottled pattern on the outer edge of the fluke, the goose barnacles trailing off the tail being a couple.

But perhaps most engaging is the entrancing stream of water drops falling as though in a different time warp to the whale.

The droplets appear to have a life of their own, continuing to fall whilst the whale stands still, like glistening pearls diving to get back to their shells.

Day 75/100

Ocean Ebony

Diffused shafts of light break through a cloud of contrast, highlighting the magnificence below.

There is such a strong architectural strength to this moment, where so many elements combine and compliment – the light, the clouds, the mercurial visage of the ocean, but above all, the unmistakable signature of the sea polished like ebony. 

Day 76/100

Far from the maddening crowd

In their world, there is also a hustle and bustle, with surfacing bodies like popping corks, bellowing blows, cascades of spray, arching backs and troubled waters.

It is an organised chaos, a frenzy of coordinated energy with a single focus. That of which to find food. 

But amongst this chaos, there is an exhilaration that is difficult to describe. All around you, it is intense.

To hear the deep bellow-like blows and exhalations of over one hundred whales, to feel their breath, and to watch their huge flukes lift above the ocean, is breath taking.

Around me many dozens of 50ft foot-long glistening bodies work in unison, catching their breath before their next assault on the larder below.

And then, silence. Ripples become the only reminder of what once rush hour.

Day 77/100


This elephant is known to the Masai and researchers in Amboseli National Park in Kenya, as Able.

He is an emerging tusker. An elephant who one day, if he is able to avoid the trophy hunters’ gun or poachers snare, may carry 100lbs of ivory on each side of his head.

Forgetting, forgiving or being completely unaware of why my kind have made him such a rare anomaly, he reaches out to me, gentle, without a bone or suggestion of malice or ill intent in his body.

Day 78/100

A Train of Thought

When you see elephants up close you realise how huge they are, but it is only when you learn their virtues that you realise their true size.

For me, every close encounter with an elephant is special. It’s like spending time with a soul wizened by years, whose mere presence imbues you with a sense of calm, and a deep sense of introspection.

I believe that for me, capturing these images of elephants is an intense privilege, not just in the creative experience, but also in the emotional one.

Day 79/100

The Three Mustheteers

For the majority of the time, a bull elephant’s life is characterised, not by anger, but rather by calm.

Undeniably there are those moments of hormonal revolt where testosterone surges through the veins, but as these souls get older, they, like a fine whisky, mellow with age.

I remember as a boy always being warned of the danger of bull elephants. The truth however is that for the majority of time, and provide they are not tormented, these old men are calm, often curious and incredibly tolerant.

Day 80/100

Shackle breaker

My style is artistic wildlife photography, and as such, I stay away from taking what are considered typical wildlife photographs with deeply saturated colours, tight composition and competing backgrounds that sometimes steal from the subject.

I focus more on creating works with mood, uncomplicated composition, different shooting angles, and a strong artistic feel.

I use a variety of techniques and locations to try and achieve this look, and meticulously plan each expedition with a shot in mind.

When working with whales, my goal is to artistically photograph them in ways that are different, and accentuate certain elements that we associate with them, most notably their flukes which are such a universal symbol of the sea.

Having said that, there are certain moments on the ocean or in the bush that quite frankly are impossible to ignore with camera in hand.

Whilst I still try to do things in an artistic way, when these moments do arise, paying attention to the elements I can control, it is unapologetically about capturing the moment itself.

For the following three posts I will share with you a few “wildlife moments” with whales where perhaps I was unable to ignore my roots of shooting action imagery, albeit still trying to include a few elements and techniques that I believe helps take an image to another level.

This peachy, but windy morning, is one of those moments where beautiful soft light, a bit of breeze for effect, and low shooting angle combine to accentuate a truly incredible natural wonder, that of a 40 Ton whale athletically launching itself out of the water, well above the horizon line, just before first light.

Day 81/100

The Benguela Ballerina

With soft pastel pinks, oranges and blues, the dawn morning broke after Monique and I had spent the calm night aboard our 28ft boat drifting at sea.

It is always raw and wonderful to do this, you are alone at sea in one of the worlds’ most productive systems, the cold Benguela current.

It is a truly wild place filled with mystery, wonder and awe, and there is an incredible beauty here watching the night give way to day.

In the distance we saw a group of humpback whales, and I was especially keen to try to capture a scene of these great creatures in this beautiful light.

Suddenly, very close to where we drifted, and with us still watching the whales in the distance, an as yet unseen humpback blasted clear of the cold Benguela’s grip.

Knowing that the humpbacks often breach again, I quickly got into a position that would really allow me to accentuate the moment against this soft light, that by now was being competed with by the first rays of sun peeping over the horizon.

Then it happened where everything came together, and this huge adult whale soared into the air, resplendent in the pink and gold colours blazing out of the water that rushed off it.

Almost completely clear of the horizon, this is probably as close as I will come to capturing a ‘beautiful’ shot of a whale breach.

It may not necessarily tick what I strive for when separating fine art from wildlife photography, but irrespective, is a reflection of the wonderful art of nature itself.

Day 82/100

The Rim Dancer

An argument over passage of light, for the sky is still black, yet the dawn is golden. From the depths, the arbitrator arises.

A golden veil upon an ebony skin, a graceful arch to marry them both. She leaps, she flies, an accord to dark and to light.

A splash, a ripple, discord diverted.

Day 83/100

One hundred steps alike

Twenty-five elephants follow each other across Namibia’s chalky Etosha plain.

Dust and heat, drought and famine, all constant companions in their daily commute to find water and sustenance at the end of the dry season.

Yet despite these hardships, they seem happy, one following the next, a flap of ears here, a nuzzle of a calf’s trunk to their mom over there.

One hundred feet march together as one, a line of elephants, a line of descendants, all with the common goal of seeing what the next step brings.

Day 84/100

March through Mirage

Water a wish, a shimmer, a foil, a deceptive veil.

Mirages dance over the parched arid landscape as a herd of resilient elephants vibrate as they appear through the veneer of deception.

Day 85/100

Oltome – a symbol or reverence and resistance

The giants who stride across the plain have had a relationship with the earth, as well as its people, for thousands and thousands of years.

Today in Southern Kenya, elephants share the landscape with many tribes, perhaps none more so than the Maasai with whom they share and compete for both food and water with the Maasai’s cattle.

It is a relationship as contrasting as the seasons, in good years they ignore each other, in dry years they compete, in future years … who knows, as Kili’s white crown shrinks ever faster …

Day 86/100

Talk within Torrents

Explosion like a flexed foil collides with the water, and yet in an instant, it is aloft once more discharging hundreds of agitated litres of seawater.

To me it is a spectacle of strength and treat for the lens. A powerful display that can be matched in scale by no other.

Yet below the surface, the sound rushes, a signal from one to the next, come visit, come play, come see what’s to eat.

Day 87/100

Purpose within Pastel

In a scene that appears dream-like, a hoisted fluke salutes the coming of the dawn.

Soft and entrancing, yet with purpose and poise, the great whale readies itself for another journey below.

Swopping sight for sonar it slips into the inky recess, minutes pass and a few more in between as shrimps and small fish are devoured in haste.

With lungs hungry, she surfaces again. The pinks and purples having faded just some in their anguished wait.

Day 88/100

Flukes and Formation

Near the Southern terminus of Africa, it is not every day you are on a perfectly calm sea. It is thus special when you get conditions such as this to photograph. But, it is so much more unique when you get a group of whales that synchronously hoist their huge tails high above the sea in salute to its mercury-like surface, and the bounty that lies beneath.

Day 89/100

Perception of self

Do elephants know how big they are, I wonder?

Many times, I have seen these giants brought to stop by creatures small and innocuous, hundreds of times their lessor.

Perhaps this is because elephants, unlike us, see themselves as not bigger than another, but rather as just another part of a whole.

A whole that is made up of many that are each treated with respect, until deemed otherwise.

Day 90/100

African Dream

I dream not of wealth, but of fortune.

A fortune where I was borne upon a continent that from Cape to Cairo bore the weight of the elephant, echoed to the roar of the lion, and was tickled by the roots of the baobab upon the savannah.

I dream of space and sentience where jackal heralds the night, and ground hornbill welcomes the dawn, and where man once knew how to live with it all.

Day 91/100

Cursed on Crust

This herd of elephants had been feeding in the surrounding woodlands for a few days, but now with soaring temperatures, they are in a hurry to get to water that was still many kilometres away.

It is a curse for them because this transit takes many hours, with food being far from fluid.

When I look at this work, and remember back to the moment, I feel both an emotional and artistic engagement on many levels.

Perhaps it is the intimacy with which I took it, maybe the low angle. Maybe it is because I know of their angst when covering vast open places to get to water and back to food?

It could also be that the many moving parts are made that much more dramatic by the encrusted soil echoed by the patchy sky above.

Day 92/100

Argument amongst Elements

A sky of contrast cloaks a mountain top, and through its ruffled veneer, shafts of light bear down to a tortured sea below.

Both Thor and Poseidon grab at their prize, a great whale, willing servant to them both.

Sun and Sea, using combatants of wind and spray to shackle their restless captive between air and water, each reluctant to let their prize be owned by the other.   

Day 94/100


There are certain individuals that define their herd, pride or pack.

These individuals determine the destiny of their group. In Amboseli National Park in Kenya, the big herds of elephants have home ranges that differ greatly from each other. These home ranges are determined in part through lineage, in other words the leaders do what their leaders did before.

But, on occasion there are outliers, individual leaders that determine where a herd goes and when, and that sometimes means radical change. It is the most successful combination of both that lead to the strongest and most formidable of herds during tough times, when flexibility under stress can lead to survival.

Day 95/100

Of Dust and Deluge

An elephant’s life is so often lived between extremes, having abundance and having very little. This typically applies to their ability to drink and to eat where the dry season, as in this photograph, brings heat and dust.

But, in the case of these elephants, it also affords the opportunity to cut across a huge dry lake to get to verdant swampland with both food and water.

Conversely in the wet season, the lakes fill up and become treacherous to cross, meaning staying on one side or the other and sustaining yourself on what is available, with little ability to choose.

It is never simple, and it is always a life revolving around decisions based on what the skies above may bring to affect the life below. 

Day 96/100

Boswell under bough

Boswell is Zimbabwe’s most famous elephant. He carries very large ivory and was for a long time one of only two elephants who had learnt to stand on his hind legs to rise up into the tree canopy of Mana Pools to forage for food.

This meant he was seldom alone as he was often accompanied by less adept elephants, hoping to steal his food.

I love this photograph for it shows him in his quiet space, alone in the Albida forests framed under the bough and bow of the trees that are such an integral part of his life and fame.

Day 97/100

Take my breath away

Watching in slow motion as you turn my way and say, my love take my breath away.

The lyrics of the beautiful song by Berlin seem so fitting to this particular image in that behind the breath of the individual, the symbol of something so much more is revealed.

When I listen to the words, and return to the moments in the images, I struggle to stop tears rolling down my cheeks.

It is such a beautiful and powerful permeation of all your senses, it is so pure and so real, and what an unbelievable gift it has been to have experienced and captured these moments in the lives of the icons of our planet’s history.

Day 98/100

Once upon a Time

Before treenail, before cloth, before the span of the oar, we were there.

Across the depths and divide of the great oceans wide, we heard each other, in love and in lust, in hunger and in feast. 

From tropics to pole, and much in between, we varied in fluke and in culture, but in flesh we were one.

And when circumstance united our number so great, our city of breath rose tall and rose proud. And so it once was. And maybe, once more where fluke and where fin will be common from shore. 

Day 99/100

The Egret and Elephant

One of the great upsides about my life is that with experience, I have got to understand and appreciate the incredible relationships that exist in nature.

Standing alongside one of Africa’s great elephants is a lowly cattle egret.

But, it is this egret who helps keep the great bull healthy and free of external parasites.

From a photographic point of view, it symbolises the miniscule and mighty alongside each other, each reliant on the other in the fabric of a vibrant ecosystem, and a reminder of how important it is to conserve not just a species, but more importantly, ecosystems.

Day 100/100

Jouney’s End

For the past 100 days many of you have walked with these elephants, you have seen their hardships, admired their endurance, respected their courage and related to their loyalty to family.

You have seen them cross dry lakes, walk across rocky plains and amble through forests.

You have seen huge herds, tiny calves and also the most magnificent individuals of their species. 

Consistently, throughout, they have shown you a gentle side that epitomises a sentient being, one that has a deep connection to its own kind and to the earth.

Just as the elephants in this image have now found food, I hope in some way this journey together with them has nourished you too.

Final Salute

The loss of the famous breaching great white sharks at Seal Island was an incredibly painful chapter in our lives. This loss set us on our course to use the medium of artistic photography, and accompanying narrative, to showcase the real and authentic side of our planet’s icons as we have uniquely experienced them at the coal face for over three decades.

Elephants and whales are especially close to us, and as with the beloved great whites, we learnt each whale and elephant is a being with a strong personality and depth of character.

Thank you to all of you who, over the past 100 Days of Sentience where we have artistically celebrated these two giants, have provided such meaningful and kind comments about the photographs and narrative, it is humbly appreciated.

This will be my last post for a while as we head off into the wilds of ocean and earth to chase the orange and next horizon.

Please feel free to share this collection of imagery and narrative with those you feel will appreciate the gentle and artistic side of our planet’s giants,

Chris & Monique

Copyrighted by Chris Fallows @2020