As a photographer , my most sought after subject is a leopard. On a safari last year I was fortunate to experience the beauty of my first young leopard in the bush.The Future Leopard Queen the frame was captured. This young female was estimated to be about 8 months old. She was perched on a fallen tree and we had to approach from with the sun behind us and it was setting fast. I was playing with various settings while we were approaching and watching the sun set………..
Future Leopard Queen the frame
We did not get that elusive golden light as the ranger had to negotiate the bushveld and respect the animal by approaching slowly and as quietly as possible. The vehicle was positioned in such away that we had a clear line of sight through some over hanging branches and much to our delight , the young leopard was relaxed enough to simply remain prone across the tree stump allowing us shoot many a frame. As it was now past twilight, we used two spot lights from the two vehicles that were together in the sighting. Each tracker took turns illuminating for the other vehicles group with much care taken not to shine directly in the eyes of the animal as their eyes are very susceptible to bright lighting after the sun has set and we also did not use it for extensive periods of time. The only issue some have with this technique is that the spotlights used by some vehicles has a very yellow cast to it and requires some editing in colour balance in post. This is easily correct with the advances in software but care should be taken if you are in this situation.
Canon 1 D MK 3 Lens – 70 mm – 200 mm F2.8 L MK 1 + 1.4 conv
Focal length 280 mm 1/100 sec F4 ISO 1250
The advantage of being in a situation where an animal is relaxed and comfortable with your presence is that it will lead to you calming down and enjoying the moment even more. I captured this image about 15 minutes after we had stopped and she yawned and stretched elegantly. She sat upright and peered over my head to view the ever darkening bushveld. She was no doubt waiting for her mother to return and take her to a fresh kill somewhere in the nearby darkness……….We left the sighting just after complete it became completely dark as to respect the animal and leave her be.
If you do go on a safari orientated around photography , it is important not to loose sight of the fact that animals are wild and you need to respect them. Do not get frustrated when having to leave a sighting if the animal is getting stressed, or having to allow another vehicle in to enjoy the beauty of the African bush. Instead , enjoy each moment you are able to spend capturing images and awesome memories – Peace n Light AA