Playing with an iPhone, this Japanese macaque could be taking a selfie or keeping in touch with friends.

The picture was taken by wildlife photographer Marsel Van Oouten, which was shortlisted for the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest this year.

The picture shows a monkey playing with a phone at the hot springs in Jigokudani in Japan.

The 500px ISO asked nature photographer Marsel van Oosten to share the full story behind his amazing shot and technique.
500px ISO网站请照片拍摄者马赛尔讲述了照片背后的故事。

“I am a professional nature photographer from The Netherlands who runs photography tours to destinations worldwide. One of the places that my wife and I visit every year is Japan. We go there in the winter to photograph cranes, eagles, swans, and the famous Japanese macaques—also known as snow monkeys. Many years ago, we spent a week in the natural hot springs at Jigokudani to photograph the snow monkeys. We were the only ones there.”

“In order to create a series of snow monkey images that was different from what already existed, I decided to work with off-camera flash, knowing that it would give me a lot of creative lighting possibilities and total control over the look of the picture. In fact, some of those images won me the International Nature Photographer of the Year title at the International Photography Awards.”

“In the following years, the hot springs started getting busier with tourists and other photographers. It was getting more difficult to return with original images every year. Earlier this year, our group was photographing the snow monkeys when tourists from a nearby resortarrived. Suddenly, we were surrounded by people shooting with iPads and iPhones, mostly selfies. We were standing close to the edge of the hot spring, when one of the tourists started taking shots with her iPhone, moving the phone closer to the macaque after each shot.”

“Suddenly, the macaque grabbed the iPhone from her hands—and quickly moved away towards the middle of the hot spring!”

“The owner screamed in agony, but the macaque was too fascinated by its new toy to notice.”

“The minutes that followed were downright hilarious. Monkeys already resemble humans in so many ways, but when they’re holding an iPhone, the similarities are almost scary. At some point, it even managed to let the built-in flash of the iPhone go off. When the macaque decided to do some serious underwater testing, the owner of the phone almost fainted. Meanwhile, I was fully aware that this would result in some of the most original snow monkey shots ever.”

“The moral of both these stories: there are different ways to create original images. In the first case, I pre-visualized the images and worked hard to get the look that I wanted. In the second case, I just happened to be at the right spot at the right time. For me, this is also one of the great things about wildlife photography—you never know what’s going to happen.”