Simone Sbaraglia spent three weeks at 14,000 feet in the Semien Mountains of Ethiopia photographing the gelada monkeys, a species that feeds only on grass. “They come out at sunrise to begin foraging for food, and they search and feed all day long,” he says.
The monkeys sleep on rock cliffs for protection from predators, and at sunset Simone climbed to a precipice above the cliffs and waited for them to return. When they descended to their sleeping places and huddled together for warmth—it can go below zero at that height—he took this image with a D800, AF-S VR Zoom-NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED and SB-900 Speedlight. The settings were 1/125 second, f/13, ISO 6400, manual exposure and Matrix metering. In post processing he cropped to a square format “to better give a sense of density to the monkeys. The space to their sides didn’t fit [with] my idea of this composition.”
Simone camped at the nearby research station of the University of Michigan Gelada Research Project. “Early in the morning I’d go out and wait for the monkeys to come off the cliffs; then I’d follow them for the day. During the first week it was hard to get close, but after a while they became used to me, and in the third week I could get very close. They were not aggressive toward me.”
A freelance nature and wildlife photographer, Simone is most often interested in places and species that are unique—”animals that are indigenous to certain areas only, or have a special behavior; and endangered species.”