Posts from the ‘Tutorial’ category

Masai Mara Cheetah Hunt

Speed, Balance and Skill – Masai Mara Cheetah hunt

Three words that you may think relates to you as a photographer … Not in this case !

During my time experiencing this years great migration , I was very fortunate to witness an incredible 7 seconds of wildlife action. A female Cheetah with a sub adult cub hunt a Thomson’s gazelle from start to finish.


A8R7494 WE Speed , Balance and Skill   The Story Behind a Cheetah Hunt in the Masai Mara


What does this image have to do with the story ? Well this is what we were doing prior to our legend guide Joseph spotting the Cheetah perched on a termite mound on the plains below or position of this “Leopard Tree ” ( thats another story in itself). Yes there was a mild panic as the golden hour was approaching and what better than a Cheetah on a mound in golden light.


A8R7500 WE Speed , Balance and Skill   The Story Behind a Cheetah Hunt in the Masai Mara


We managed to calmly drive down the hill to where the cheetah was positioned. To our disappointment she had started to move off with her son . The area (only a few km from Camp) was designated “high use” and therefore no off-roading so we could not follow or reposition to get some golden light shots of the two of them .


A8R7502 WE Speed , Balance and Skill   The Story Behind a Cheetah Hunt in the Masai Mara


With no where else to be, we decided to enjoy a cold Tusker while they wandered off into the distance. As I was watching her cross through a small shrub area, she went into a low crouch and stopped… she then walked forward with her son in tow. My hear rate shot through the roof and I thought, could this be… I immediately said to Stefan, Kirsty and Gerhard what I thought was going on. In a flash all eyes and lenses were trained on the moving cheetah.

This is what happened next…



So, some technical specs !

  • Canon 1 DX with 200-400 F4 L and 1.4 Convertor engaged.
  • AV mode , Aperture F5.6
  • Shutter speed 1/2000
  • 25 % Crop for documentary use images
  • ISO 1000 (to keep shutter speed up due to overhead conditions and freeze the actions)
  • Panning Plated attached to lens foot on bean bag
  • Wild Eye vehicle platform (shooting through the pop top area with all three photographers and long lenses)


When tracking a subject some distance away, I tend to use the centre focus point and using a slight crop adjustment for composition later. On a prime lens and the incredible tracking system of the new canon bodies, it becomes far more practical for me. I also decide to keep the cheetah as my focus point as this is where the story will come from. I had a split second to decide on this and used the incredible frame rate of the 1DX to capture this sequence. (the buffer did not fill up). By slowly moving in a level plain thanks to the bean bag and panning plate.

I look forward to sharing more from this epic destination soon…

Peace and Light – AA


More than an Image – The Sable

More than an image – The Sable

You hear many times people say, ‘know your subject’. In this series I share a few interesting facts about a specific wildlife photographic subject.

The Sable

Scientific Name: hippotragus niger

Identification : This is a large antelope relative to the size of a Kudu and sometimes confused with a Roan (close family). Large males are easily identified by the long curving horns that can reach up to 165cm



Habitat : This antelope is known as an “edge” habitant as it lives on woodland and savannah fringes. Generally occur through out major national parks in from Kruger National Park to Northern Tanzania on the eastern side of Africa . Below is a screen shot of the IUCN population estimates in 2008 from there interactive webpage.



Behaviour : These antelope are extremely skittish and shy but are both nocturnal and diurnal, although they prefer to feed just until dark, because of a high risk of predation at night . They will often remain in the thick Woodland area’s.




They remain in the same area as feed is available and will only move a small distance. They are a herd animal with small numbers of 15-25 females and young together. They are never far from a constant water source.You can often see them drinking in the mid to late mornings



Photographic Tip : With it being an elusive subject in the wild , it will appear with out warning and may only give you a few seconds to get a shot off in normally very thick vegetation or crossing a track.  Focus and composition become important . If you can grab  record shot , then concentrate on a portrait or just head and horns .Also think of the depth of field to blur out any objects in the fore and backgrounds




IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern of Extinction Globally

Reasons for this are that the total population through out Africa is on average managed . In some areas however it is extinct or on the verge of extinction . reasons for the decline include decimation of grassland habitats and human reclamation . As this is a target species of hunters due to the trophy horns etc , large numbers are bred and ‘farmed’ with in South Africa. They fetch huge prices at auctions so reintroduction in the wild can be an extremely expensive exercise .

Conservation : There are populations of animals in major reserves that are self sustaining and on th increase . Others have had number decline horrible and are slowly re-introducing animals where possible. As mentioned , the ‘farming’ of this species is massive and numbers are stable.

All information gathered has been sourced from public articles, the web and personal knowledge of various Wild Eye ambassadors and our guests.


IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. <>.

Roger Machin | Caroline Aveley | Brendon Jennings

Peace and Light – AA