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When Iwago visited the Galapagos Islands in 1970, he was amazed at the overwhelming scale of nature, and this event marked the beginning of his journey as an animal photographer. World-renowned, Iwago is the first Japanese photographer to shoot two cover photos for National Geographic magazine. He has published many photo collections including Animals on Earth and The Natural Order of the African Plain. Lately his collections of cat photos are widely popular.
The Pantanal region in Brazil is home to the largest area of fresh water in the world, and is flooded for half the year. Because it is difficult for people to work with the land in this area, it remains largely undeveloped. The jaguar is the representative of the Pantanal, standing at the top of the food chain.
From dawn at 6:00 a.m. till sunset at 6:00 p.m., I traveled on a small, six-and-a-half meter aluminum boat along the Cuiabá River, one of the several that run through the Pantanal. I waited for jaguars, which often stalk up and down the river, as well as other wildlife, to appear.
The rule when observing jaguars is that one must stay at least 30 meters away in respect of the jaguars’ well being. In this kind of situation, a super telephoto lens is an absolute must. Thanks to compact Olympus design a tripod is unnecessary, and hand-held shooting is comfortable. To zoom in on jaguars on clifftops along the river, I switched to vertical orientation without thinking. Shooting is stress-free even with the teleconverter attached to the 300mm lens. Because I was shooting on the river, I was thankful for the OM-D E-M1 Mark II’s solid grip, image stabilization, and splashproof construction which let me get right down close to the surface of the water, achieving the perfect angle to capture capybara munching on grass. I made good use of the sequential shooting modes on this trip as well. The high-speed sequential shooting and high image quality are superb. This model makes it possible to capture split-second expressions even on typically jittery creatures such as the giant otter.
On this trip I was able to capture the rare sight of a jaguar atop a tree. There is no way to fully express the wonder of wild animals in their natural setting in the Pantanal. I definitely want to return to my beloved Pantanal with my beloved OM-D E-M1 Mark II.