For UK photographer Samuel Cox the Kgalagadi, “a brutally harsh and unforgiving environment”, offers the ideal setting and ample opportunities to create intimate portraits of wildlife. By Arnold Ras

Residing in Gloucestershire in the United Kingdom, Samuel Cox first visited the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in 2003. Since then the Kgalagadi has become his favourite place in South Africa to revisit for its diverse wildlife and vast beauty.

“Whether you’re photographing lions marching down a dried up riverbed or a gemsbok silhouette atop a sand dune in front of a dramatic sky, there are countless ways to photograph everything you see which makes it a breath of fresh air and an exciting challenge. The landscape seems alive; a sudden stormy downpour gives birth to rich green shoots protruding from the sand in no time. What was once dusty and pale quickly gives way to a temporary oasis of green and lush vegetation,” says Samuel.

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Why black and white?

“Black and white photography has a very earnest sensibility and enables me to be more artistic and creative than I feel I can be with colour. For example, an image with high contrast blacks and whites can be very striking whilst the same image with a lower contrast of greys ends up coming across as more soft and gentle.

“It all depends on what you want to convey and I feel that colour, whilst great in its own right, restricts this. I  find that by removing colour I can bring more focus to textures, tones and reflections. Black and white photography often represents my subject in a more raw and honest way.”
When Wild saw his captivating black and white images of the park’s wildlife, we simply had to share a few of his best photos with our readers.

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“My most memorable experience: The sun was setting and out of the distant bushes erupted two young African wildcats. They darted round each other, playfully pawing and darting up in and around trees whilst the setting sun bathed them in the most gloriously golden light. Wildcats are a true privilege to see, let alone two. It was a moment where none of my photography did it any justice. And nor could it.”

“With water being scarce in the desert, waterholes become goldmines for activity and draw in all different types of wildlife. As such, antelopes are often extremely cautious and skittish when drinking.”

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“A high-contrast silhouette of a gemsbok slowly meandering across the desert landscape.”

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“Drinking giraffes often lose their mouthfuls of water as they raise back up. This particular moment happened at dawn and led to the water beautifully glistening in the light of the low sun.”

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“Mother lion taking a moment of personal space away from the pride and her cubs to have a quiet drink.”

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“A young springbok as he stood out from the crowd to look directly down my lens.”

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“Safety in numbers. Springboks jostle for central positions amongst the herd as they take a moment’s rest under the shade of a tree.”

About the photographer

Although Samuel was initially trained in digital filmmaking at the University of Gloucestershire, he has since focused on digital photography to capture and share diverse wildlife, landscapes and cultures. He found inspiration from photographers such as Andy Rouse and Sebastião Salgado, but nothing encourages him more than developing his own style with the tools and skills he acquired over the years. He hopes to utilise his photography to promote wildlife conservation. Follow Samuel’s work on his website.