Photography is as much about the experience as the photograph. Many images have ‘baggage' attached to them that sometimes inflates the success of the image.
The baggage attached to this image is a little different. It brings back fond memories of a practical joke, albeit childish.
Epupa Falls is on the Angolan border of Namibia and indeed this tree might be in Angola. It is - or was - an amazing place where some 17 small waterfalls tipped over the edge, cascading through deep clefts in a dry land. It was absolutely beautiful and photographing it in a meaningful way was very difficult.
One of the challenges was the bright light above the clefts and the deep shadows within. The contrast was too great for film to capture detail in both areas at the one time and, this being pre-digital, the thought of two exposures hadn't occurred to me.
The solution was to wait for the sun to set. I was standing there with fellow photographer John Bazzano, discussing nothing in particular, whiling away the time. Our tripods were set at the ready, cameras poised, waiting for just the right time.
John excused himself as nature called, and he politely walked a discreet distance away. Now I'm not quite sure what possessed me, but I walked over to his camera which was fitted with a fine zoom lens, checked the angle he had set so I could return the camera to this position afterwards, released the tripod head and swung the camera towards John.
The zoom worked remarkably well and I captured him from a three-quarter rear view, mid-stream.
I returned the camera to its correct position and zoom setting and nonchalantly wandered back to my own camera. John returned and appeared none the wiser.
I said nothing more and promptly forgot the incident.
Our trip continued for another couple of weeks and a couple of months passed. Back in Sydney, I'm sitting in my office at the magazine when I receive a call. It's John.
"Hello, Peter", he began, his words very carefully annunciated. "How are you?"
"Fine", I replied.
"I've been very busy", continued John, "so I asked my new lady friend if she would like to help me edit my photos from our African trip. There was one photograph taken at Epupa Falls she wondered if you could provide an explanation for..."
Now I like John a lot, but I've never been brave enough to go on another trip with him.