Why and How Photographing the Ethiopian Wolf from an Artistic Perspective

As described in this article, the Ethiopian wolf, also called the Abyssinian wolf, is a precious dream of many wildlife photographers. Indeed, it is very difficult to observe in its natural habitat. Moreover, photographing it artistically is an additional challenge. This is the challenge that I took on.

Artistic Photograph of an Ethiopian Wolf in the Highlands of Bale in Ethiopia.
Artistic Photograph of an Ethiopian Wolf in the Highlands of Bale in Ethiopia.

An Endangered Species

The Ethiopian Wolf is the rarest canine in the world. Its total population is estimated to be between 400 and 450 individuals. The best place to observe and photograph it is certainly the Bale plateau in southern Ethiopia. Having a knowledgeable guide is essential due to the immense territory that each family claims as their own. Without a solid knowledge of the terrain, it is almost impossible to find them.

Despite everything, the landscapes of the Balé plateau lie in a desert region because the altitude is more than 4000 meters (13,100 feet). The cold and wind prevent large trees and vegetation from growing. With a pair of binoculars, it is easy to spot a loner or a family in the distance, which can then be photographed.

In the Simien Mountains, the observation area is even smaller because the wolves are expelled from their natural territory by farmers who claim land which was once natural grasslands.

Thus, to photograph Ethiopian wolves, one must take great time, patience, an excellent guide, and a stroke of luck.

Avoid Repetitive Photographs

My first trip to the Balé plateau was unfortunate for me. I experienced several challenges, and the photos were not what I had hoped for. However, during my second expedition, luck smiled upon me, even though I experienced the same weather conditions as the first time. However, in the second trip, I was able to observe and photograph wolves less than one hundred meters from my blinds.

Before my trip, I made serious preparations for my photo project dedicated to the wolves of Ethiopia. I analyzed all the photographs taken by other animal photographers. I took note of their successes and tried to interpret what made certain photos stand out from the others. I reached a crucial conclusion. All the pictures looked alike. This was because they were of a naturalistic or descriptive perspective.

Indeed, most photographers were happy to observe and photograph this rare animal. Due to the difficult weather conditions, simply creating photos was an achievement, much less accomplishing my artistic goals.

As far as I was concerned, I chose to be different. My goal was to create artistic photos to showcase this beautiful animal. However, I wanted to accomplish this goal in my style, which is shades of blacks and whites from an ethereal, dreamy approach. This is completely opposite of the images I analyzed, which used color to highlight the beauty of the coat or the color variations of the animal. I recognize that the mix of red and white is beautiful.

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But why would one want to spend time reproducing that which has already been accomplished? As always, I wanted to be different by taking on a challenge.

Black and White is a Perfect Technique for the Ethiopian Wolf

As I have described in this article, black and white is a creative technique. Therefore, it is perfectly adapted to my project concerning the wolves of Ethiopia.

Just like my gelada collection, I wanted to create a timeless series, which cannot be attributed to a specific era. In addition, these black and white photos do not follow any current trends. I think this is an important asset for artistic photographs.

Black and white is synonymous with aesthetics. The pelts of the wolves of Ethiopia are sublimated by the contrasts of lights and their reflections.

I think I have succeeded. Wolves are highly popular and arouse interest, especially since they are an endangered species. I hope that these few photos will inspire people to invest in the preservation of the Ethiopian wolves’ environment.

Some Artistic Photographs of Ethiopian Wolves

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