New Zealand D-Photo - - PROFILE CHRIS VAN RYN -

Chris van Ryn ex­plored Madagascar by bike, stum­bling across myr­iad can­did mo­ments, which he cap­tured with his lim­ited pho­to­graphic kit

“There’s a chameleon!” came the call from our guide. I cy­cled up to the bushes, dis­mounted, swung my bag around to the front and reached for my cam­era. “Where?” I queried, peer­ing closely. “There,” he replied, point­ing. “Looks like a branch.” Then I saw it — mov­ing slowly, ten­ta­tively reach­ing out its front ‘fingers’ like an el­derly man reach­ing for a cof­fee mug, be­fore it fi­nally gripped the branch, pulled it­self for­ward, then re­peated the mo­tion with the other leg. De­spite the slow­ness, it dis­ap­peared from view much quicker than I an­tic­i­pated, its head be­com­ing ob­scured by leaves. Damn, I thought. I sprinted around to the other side of the bush, push­ing in be­tween the branches. I zoomed right in, checked the depth of field, set the aper­ture to f/2.8, then took a shot. I ad­justed the cam­era, set the aper­ture to f/3.5, then took an­other. I wanted to make sure there was enough in fo­cus, but I still wanted some bokeh. I de­cided to play it safe. I set the aper­ture to f/4.5, and then I had my money shot. Set­ting off again, we headed fur­ther into the re­mote coun­try­side. The trip con­sisted of 500km of cy­cling in just over seven days, and 56km of hik­ing. Trav­el­ling in this way puts you in­side a scene as a par­tic­i­pant; you are no longer just an ob­server.

We’d de­parted from the cap­i­tal, An­tana­narivo — a chaos of peo­ple; dust; diesel­puff­ing trucks, Re­naults, and Citroëns from the ’50s; humped zebu; squawk­ing roost­ers; and road­side mar­kets where blue­bot­tles swarmed over meat, along­side veg­eta­bles and fruits of as­sorted reds and greens ­— a Mecca for street pho­tog­ra­phy. From there, we had rid­den south into the high­lands, over the moun­tain­ous ver­te­brae that sep­a­rates east from west along the length of Madagascar, forg­ing po­lar­ized ge­o­graphic per­son­al­i­ties. In the east, a sweep­ing moist wind had spawned a green belt. In the west, dry, arid air had turned land into sand that sup­ported spiny forests with cacti bear­ing

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