On Thursdays, we read reviews or news stories about art and study the language used to describe them.  This week’s article is about the best animal photos from National Geographic in 2017. The author, Daniel Stone, talks about how difficult it is to get shots like these. Above photo by Thomas P. Peschak. Below photo by Ami Vitale.

Here is the article from National Geographic:

No one ever said it’s easy to photograph in the wild. On the savannah or under the ocean, nature often gives strikingly little time to make a good frame. And once the moment is gone, it’s gone.


Case in point: an image we published in August from Thomas Peshak on assignment photographing whales in the waters of Baja California. Peshak, who has photographed whales for 20 years, caught a truly unique moment on camera when whales approached his boat and enjoyed being touched by human hands. In another image, Ami Vitale visited an elephant orphanage in Northern Kenya and watched something equally unlikely: a group of human keepers bathing, feeding, and preparing the elephants for adulthood.


National Geographic photo editor Elijah Walker selected some of the top images of the year, some that made it in the magazine or online, and many more that didn’t. “To get such high-quality images, where every detail of the photograph lines up, the light, the composition, and the color, is incredible,” he says. Even more remarkable is to think of doing all that outside of a human’s element—around wild animals or underwater.

In the first paragraph, the author uses the phrase, no one ever said, to make his point that taking photographs in the wild is very difficult. It’s a figure of speech that we use in English; it’s not literal. Next, he gives examples of places that are difficult to take photos in because the photographer has so little time to create a good composition. Then he uses another figure of speech to show that you only have one chance at a good photo: once ______ is gone, it’s gone.

In the second paragraph, the author begins by using the phrase case in point to show that he’s giving an example. Then, he uses the phrase on assignment to mean that the photographer was working for National Geographic at the time he took the photos of the whales. Then Stone goes on to talk about a special scene of baby elephants in Kenya. He talks about the people who take care of the elephants – the keepers.

In the last paragraph, the author quotes the photo editor at National Geographic, Elijah Walker. Walker talks about the top images of the year, which means the best images. Then he talks about how incredibly difficult it is to get these types of images because there are so many things that can go wrong. He uses the phrase where every detail of the photograph lines up, which means that everything looks good at the same time. In the last sentence he says: Even more remarkable is to think of doing all that outside of a human’s element—around wild animals or underwater. This means it’s amazing that someone can take such a great photo when they can’t control the environment in nature.

I’ve chosen 5 words or phrases for you to focus on today. They are in bold. If you don’t know them, look up the meaning, synonyms, antonyms, and other forms of these words. You can find links to Merriam-Webster dictionary sites at the bottom of this page.


What do you think of this article? Which phrases do you like best? Do you have questions about the vocabulary? Do you want to suggest an article or review for me to discuss next week? Leave a comment below!

To see the original article, written by Daniel Stone on December 7, 2017, click the link below: