July 8, 2013

Caimans at Night, Brazil

Photograph by Luciano Candisani

This Month in Photo of the Day: Animal Pictures

After the caimans emerged at dusk, the photographer was reminded of an earlier encounter. At 15 he went with his dad to look for the crocs by flashlight: “The image of their eyes glowing like stars in a dark sky is something I will never forget.”

See more pictures from the July 2013 feature story "The Comeback Croc."


Watch a video of swimming with caimans »
See pictures of and learn more about freshwater environments »

38 comments
Nathaniel Redman
Nathaniel Redman

What a cool shot ..the stars moved more than the gators ....

Rodrigo Borges
Rodrigo Borges

I believe this is the Pantanal Complex in Brazil's center-west region. My hometown is actually very close to this region. Sights like that are indeed very common! Those Caimans eat mostly fish wich are also very abundant, and are usually harmless to people as they are small and also very well fed. But I said "usually" haha Google Pantanal or Pantanal Caimans and you can see more pictures! It's a trully stunning landscape and worth the visit. There are also some amazing resorts to stay while at the region.

Donald L.
Donald L.

Wouldn't want to go skinny dipping there.  For that matter, would want to go in wearing a swimsuit either.

Carlos Roche
Carlos Roche

YES BUDDY!!!! awesome job! and no photoshop! I love it!!!!!!! =)

Merre Cris Elayon
Merre Cris Elayon

nice ..awesome picture.. how did you come with that photograph?

Luciano Candisani
Luciano Candisani

Thanks for all the comments on my picture. No, it is not photoshop. It comes from a single long exposure frame . When termoregulating, caimans stay as static as a rock. In some of the animals it is possible to see some motion blur but it is very litle. For this shot I've used two different light sources: one  continuos  light (for light painting) and a portable strobe head for the eyes.  Actually the strobe also works to light and freeze the caimans in the foreground . It took me 5 days of trial and error to get this image.  The original is a raw file. 

Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Surgent
Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Surgent

I think it is possibly a slow shutter speed with a flash at the end of the exposure. That's the only explanation I can come up with to explain the star trails AND the caimans, as well as the color discrepancies.   

A I
A I

I don't understand this photo--is it a composite?  The sky shows star trails like the shutter was left open for an hour or two; but the caimans (caimen?) are sharp and without motion blur.  Also seems to have a color mismatch between the amber quality of the lower part of the photo and the more natural appearing color of the upper photo.  Also, it seems like an awful lot of caimans all in one place when they are so territorial.  Just seems odd to me.  Please correct me if I'm off base.

Carol Music
Carol Music

Regardless of exactly this photo occurred, it still extraordinary! Hard to imagine that many caymans in one swamp (?) at one time! WHAT or WHO do they eat to be this prolific? I suspect this will haunt my dreams/nightmares for a few nights!

Brí Béar
Brí Béar

''One, Two, Three O'clock, Four O'clock rock, Five, Six, Seven O'clock, Eight O'clock rock. Nine, Ten, Eleven O'clock, Twelve O'clock rock, We're gonna rock around the clock tonight. '' ( Caiman Crocodile Rock   - with apologies to  Bill Haley and The Comets:-))

Marisa JoKu
Marisa JoKu

I wonder which settings where used?! You can see star trails which indicate that the exposure time is at least longer than one minute (more likely more than 3 or 5 min) and I don't believe that the caimans stayed motionless for that time?! Any explanation? Photoshop?

Nonnie Augustine
Nonnie Augustine

I'm not going to this spot. Not me. Nope. But it is a stunning photo.

DeEp Pandey
DeEp Pandey

beautiful pic  it seems like fire flames .

Jeanette Duurvoort
Jeanette Duurvoort

Two wonderful  themes here. Life of the heavens and of the earth in all their beauty. Its wonderful we have talented photographers to show the world what we miss during our chaotic days

Ryan Shepard
Ryan Shepard

What most people might not notice the amazing part of this photo is that you see star trails which means these alligators did not move an inch during this long exposure. 

C. Hamada
C. Hamada

So amazing, just wondering what kind of other animals can live and survive in this river... 

Rodrigo Borges
Rodrigo Borges

@Luciano Candisani Was this pic taken at the Pantanal complex? If so, was it taken in Mato Grosso or Mato Grosso do Sul? I used to live in a town in Mato Grosso and the sight of so many Caimans is very familiar to me! Beautiful picture by the way

Santiago Belaunzaran
Santiago Belaunzaran

@A I I think its a 5 minutes or maybe a little more exposure with a flash at the end, thats the only thing it ocurred to me. That also expalins the color-light difference between the caimens and the background and the sky. Im not sure though haha, a great shot though.

Rodrigo Borges
Rodrigo Borges

@Carol Music They eat mostly fish and I think they may eat a Capybara once in a while. If this picture was taken in the Pantanal Complex, their numbers are so big due to large disponibility of food! There's many large and small fish for them to eat. And don't worry, they are usually just a little larger than 1 meter in lenght and,as they are also well fed, tend to be harmless to people :)

Shauna Nicole
Shauna Nicole

@Marisa JoKu I can't explain what looks like moving stars, but the perfectly motionless caimans are a give away that this was probably not ridiculously long shutter speed. It could have simply been bulb mode (or settings of the like) with some headlights for illumination in the foreground, which would have taken a grand exposure time of a few seconds.

The sky is a puzzle, though. I wouldn't think that NatGeo would accept that kind of extensive alterations. It would certainly make the shot seem less impressive.

Michael Roterman
Michael Roterman

@Marisa JoKu I think this is done by overlaying several images, otherwise very hard ( if not impossible? ) to accomplish indeed. 

Christina Cygnus
Christina Cygnus

@Ryan Shepard Seems more likely that the camera was setup for a long sky exposure and then flashed at the end to get the foreground details.

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