The Brazilian-born photojournalist and Canon Ambassador Carolina Arantes was documenting genetically-modified cattle at a farm in her homeland for her project Holy Cow when she caught an image of a cow attempting to flee from slaughter. Here, Carolina talks us through how she managed to capture the shocking image.
"One in four steaks eaten worldwide is Brazilian, making Brazil the biggest meat exporter in the world. My project, Holy Cow, is about how genetic cloning and engineering allows Brazil to be in such a competitive position. The Zebu, a breed of cow that originated in India, has become very commercialised here, with some animals fetching up to one million dollars in auctions. People are aware that this is happening, but they laugh about it. They don't have the full facts about the business. This is because the story is quite hidden.
"I shot the picture on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens at 42mm. The exposure was ISO100, shutter speed 350, aperture f/6.7. In this particular photo, it was a lucky situation. I was in the perfect moment at the perfect time. Technically, because it's reportage, I usually have my camera on shutter speed priority and autofocus tracking and choose the dot precisely where I want it. I could not wait or expect that the bull could jump the fence, so those two things are what helped most with this photo.
"I've always worked with Canon because it guarantees quality, even in low light. I prefer one body with the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens because I'm wary of being weighed down by equipment and missing a photo opportunity due to a lens change.
"I do very few things in post-production. I add a little toning and white balance but I try to get the natural light as best I can. I use the Canon equipment to read the light. In the photo of the cow in the auction [below], I played with the low light. I found that when I lowered the exposure, I could find the texture. You have to catch where the light is in situations, and I saw the light coming from the sparkling papers to capture this image. Again, I have no flash. I just used my body, my lens, and the autofocus.
"This picture [top] is interesting because of the repetition of triangle shapes of both the cow and the buildings in the background. To me, it contrasts the natural force of the animal with the artificial architecture. In India, cows symbolise the magnificence of nature. Here in Brazil, they symbolise money.
"One of the most successful farms in Brazil is a family-owned business with 30,000 animals. Access wasn't easy and I had to prove I was really interested in doing this story before they would let me come and shoot. The trip to the farm in Pontes e Lacerda, Mato Grosso, was long and difficult, which is why I don't think they expected me to actually come. I drove there by myself on a tough road and spent five days staying nearby and visiting the farm every day.
"The day I took this picture the cows were due to go to the slaughterhouse. It was like they sensed their doom because they were very agitated and anxious. I found myself watching one cow in particular who suddenly tried to jump the fence and I was in the perfect place to get the shot. The cow didn't make it over the fence. In fact, it broke its leg in its attempt to escape, but they put it in the truck anyway."