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Final Edit
December 2004

The image we rescued from the cutting room floor.

Final Edit Editor Photo editor Bert Fox talks about choosing unexpected behavior over an unusual image.

Cut It?
"The grouping of pictures showing the elephant experiencing weightlessness in the water [pages 55-7] really defined the scene," says photo editor Bert Fox. "She even drove her tusks into the sandy river bottom, not once but many times. That's something none of us working on the story had ever seen before, and we wanted to share it with the readers. Bringing in the photo of the elephant's and the mahout's legs underwater just didn't fit into the sequence. And with no room left in the layout, we decided not to use it in the article."

Or Keep It?
"All of us saw the humor in the juxtaposition of the huge elephant legs next to the slender legs of the mahout," Fox continues. "They played off each other so well. The image was clearly our favorite among those that wouldn't get published in the story. At one point we all looked at each other collectively as if to say, 'We can't put it in the story, so where should it go?' The answer was easy: Final Edit."

December Final Edit
Photograph by David Doubilet Send this image as a postcard

Africa's Miracle Delta
Shall We Dance?

After months of diving among crocodiles as he explored the aquatic jungle of Botswana's Okavango Delta, photographer David Doubilet found himself swimming with much friendlier companions: a small herd of safari elephants and their mahouts. Doubilet snapped frame after frame of the elephants frolicking in the water, when suddenly a pair of skinny legs caught his eye.

"If you start with the golden light and white sand," says Doubilet, "and add something as incongruous as the biggest legs on the planet next to the graceful legs of the mahout, it becomes  quite funny."
The editors loved the quirky juxtaposition of limbs but were more drawn to the energy and movement of other images depicting the world's largest land mammal delighting in watery weightlessness (pages 55-7). "We exhausted the elephant underwater look," says photo editor Bert Fox, adding with a straight face, "we felt the legs would have to stand alone."

—Samara Schwartz

Check out Africa's Miracle Delta, the feature story for which this photo was originally taken.
Final Edit Photographer Zoom In on more images by David Doubilet.

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