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Every picture tells a story. Not only of the subject itself — an animal’s behaviour or a beautiful scene — but also of the skill, patience and understanding of the photographer. Photography continues to break new ground, and although we see thousands of images of Africa each year, we cherish those moments when a photograph [...] The post Nature’s Best Photography Africa 2017 Portfolio appeared first on Travel Africa Magazine. ...

Nature’s Best Photography Africa 2017 Portfolio

Every picture tells a story. Not only of the subject itself — an animal’s behaviour or a beautiful scene — but also of the skill, patience and understanding of the photographer. Photography continues to break new ground, and although we see thousands of images of Africa each year, we cherish those moments when a photograph makes you stop, and learn or appreciate more about our natural world.

Which is why we value our partnership with the Nature’s Best Photography Africa competition. The 2017 competition saw a 92% increase in entries from around the world, ensuring a greater depth of photography than ever before.

This gallery showcases a selection of the winning, runner-up and highly commended images from the 2017 competition, with the photographers themselves describing how they achieved the shots. (Opening image by Paul Goldstein.)

More have been published in the January-March issue of Travel Africa magazine, and the official winners’ coffee table book is available to order here. If you are in Cape Town before 4 March 2018, visit the NBPA 2017 Exhibition at the Iziko SA Museum, and information on the 2018 competition can be found at www.naturesbestphotographyafrica.com.

AFRICAN WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR

Winner: Brendon Cremer

Brendon was born and raised in Zimbabwe, where his passion for wildlife was fueled by visits to Matusadona National Park. Later, as a professional guide, he worked in most of the prominent parks in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana before managing a lodge in the Sabi Sand game reserve in South Africa, where a fascination for big cats fuelled his photography.

“The intricate biomes of the natural world around us are so beautiful that it is often difficult to describe them in words, says Cremer. “For me, photography has always gone hand in hand with my love of wildlife and nature, offering me a medium through which to share the beauties of nature with people less fortunate than I am and who do not have the means to encounter all the natural wonders our world has to offer.

“What I love most about wildlife photography is the ability to capture a single moment in time that can never be repeated in exactly the same way. That moment in time may evaporate before one’s eyes, but it can be immortalised in the single frame of a camera image, to be shared and appreciated for generations to come.”

‘The Face in the Moon’, Highly honoured, Wild Cats of Africa Portraits
Nikon D3S, 200-400mm f/4 @ 400mm, ISO 2500, Aperture f/4.5, Shutter Speed 1/125s, EV 0.0

“Early one evening we were on a game drive in the Londolozi game reserve when we came across this female leopard. She had secured the remains of her recent impala kill in a large marula tree. Since such encounters are not common, we spent considerable time watching her feed. By the time she had eaten her fill, the sun had set and the rocky outcrop near the base of the tree had started to cool off sufficiently to encourage her to seek the comfort of its latent warmth.

“We noticed that the moon was rising slowly behind her and realised that it would take some time to reach the level where we could photograph her head silhouetted against its light. We nevertheless elected to wait and after a tense 45 minutes, she and the moon were in the classic, photographic harmony of an earth creature set in outline against an icon from outer space.

“This was a greater gift than we could have anticipated. Engineering the correct balance of light in such situations can be quite a challenge, but when it works, the result provides photographers with that sense of reward and satisfaction that entices them to pursue even more vigorously the ever-elusive, perfect image.”

‘Head to Head’, First Runner-up, Mammals of Africa Behavioural
Nikon D810, 400mm f/2.8 @ 400mm, ISO 1800, Aperture f/4, Shutter Speed 1/2000s, EV 0.0

‘The Dash to Water’, First Runner-up, Art in African Wildlife
Nikon D3S, 200-400mm f/4 @ 220mm, ISO 200, Aperture f4.5, Shutter Speed 1/10s, EV 0.0

“During the winter months when water and food are scarce, elephants often travel great distances to find food. However, because of their need for a daily intake of water, they are often compelled to make long journeys back to their permanent sources. At such times either raging thirst or the excitement at the prospect of quenching it often propels them into a headlong dash when they come within a hundred yards or so of a water source. I wanted to capture this final dash in a way that would portray their tremendous urgency and apparent desperation.

“After sitting at a waterhole for some considerable time and watching several herds arrive from different directions, I could anticipate their movements sufficiently to capture this image when yet another herd made its appearance.”

‘Swimming to Safety’, Highly honoured, Mammals of Africa Portraits
Nikon D810, 400mm f/2.8 @ 400mm, ISO 360, Aperture f/7.1, Shutter Speed 1/2000s, EV -0.7

“Red lechwe are a common sight along the banks and islands of the Chobe River. These antelope, whose habitat often consists of large soaked and swampish areas, are no strangers to water. And even though they must quite often cross the channels and waterways that separate the islands of land from one another in the region, such aquatic adventures are not an everyday occurrence.

“For me, witnessing this episode was a first. We spotted this large male leaping into the water from a nearby island some distance down the river. By the time our discreet approach had brought us closer, it had already reached that area where the river was shallow enough for it to get a foothold. Its swimming action changed to a series of leaps and bounds through the water and since the bank was still some 40 metres away, we wondered whether the turbulence it was generating would attract the crocodiles. In this case, however, the lechwe negotiated a safe passage and in doing so gave me the opportunity for some action photography.”


‘Chasing tails’
Nikon D810, 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm, ISO 125, Aperture f6.3, Shutter Speed 1/200s, EV 0.0

AFRICAN LANDSCAPES

 

Winner:  ‘Different Ways’, by Panos Laskarakis, Ioannina, Greece
Canon EOS 7D, 400mm f/2.8 + 2x Converter @ 800mm, ISO 200, Aperture f/8, Shutter Speed 1/1000s, EV 0.0

“This image was taken on a winter morning in one of the most remote and deserted areas on the planet. It is in the north-western corner of Namibia, where the Kunene River meets the Kaokoland. I chose a position and time of day that I felt certain would reward me with a parade of the iconic oryx; I had previously scouted the area and knew the animals usually followed this path to quench their thirst in the Kunene River. My expectations were rewarded when a group of them moved gracefully across the dunes like a team of explorers, perfectly spaced from one another in a line across the sand.”

WILD CATS OF AFRICA: BEHAVIOURAL

Winner: ‘Lion Kings Fighting’, by Zhengze Xu, Shanghai, China
Canon EOS 5D MkIII, 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 285mm, ISO 400, Aperture f/5.6, Shutter Speed 1/2000s, EV +0.3

“I took this photo in the northern Mara at a place called the Musiara Marsh. The subject of the BBC documentary The Big Cat Diary, the Marsh Pride is undoubtably the most famous pride of lions in Africa. In 2011 four young male siblings took over the whole pride, and progressively asserted their influence to several other prides in the region. They spend about four months of the year with the Marsh Pride, and I was lucky one morning to see all four brothers making such a visit.

“The whole group had been drinking at the river when two big males suddenly started roaring at each other for no apparent reason. Within minutes this had erupted into a full-scale fight. Thunderous roars reverberated through the bush, accompanied by clouds of dust and sporadic squeals of pain in a total confusion of aggressive display. The action lasted for only about 40 seconds and when all the fury subsided, none of the participants appeared to be injured. The local guides explained that the entire performance had been little more than an expression of strength to demonstrate dominance.”

Runner-up: ‘Cat flap’, by Paul Goldstein, London, United Kingdom
Canon EOS 1D-X MkII, 500mm f/4 @ 500mm, ISO 500, Aperture f/4, Shutter Speed 1/6400, EV -0.3

“This image was captured in the Olare Conservancy of the Masai Mara in Kenya. The female here is known as Fig, one of the rare gift leopards that tolerate the proximity of vehicles. On this morning she and her yearling son were performing the last rites on a Thomson’s gazelle. They then swaggered across the plains into the conservancy, where there were just three vehicles. For an hour or so they followed several narrow, dry luggas (river valleys), giving us spectacular displays and flashes of brilliance that explained why a sustained encounter with these dappled magicians of the bush will instantly raise the pulse rate of any wildlife enthusiast.

“After losing them for a few minutes, they suddenly exploded out of a clump of nearby croton bushes. I had no time to do anything other than try to fit them into the frame of my camera. This was a play-fight moment and lasted hardly a second in duration. After this they truffle up a dikdik deep in the bush and toyed with it for a while before falling asleep for most of the day.”

WILD CATS OF AFRICA: PORTRAITS

Winner: ‘Male Lion in the Night’, by Arnfinn Johansen, Lillehammer, Norway
Nikon D5, 16-35mm f/4 @ 18mm, ISO 12800, Aperture f/8, Shutter Speed 1/10s, EV 0.0

“I am constantly driven to explore and discover innovations that will bring a fresh approach to my images. Technically, the challenges are demanding because they involve a great deal of trial and error, which brings with it a rollercoaster of hope, frustration, achievement and disaster. But when one’s experiments climax in a measure of success, the results deliver some rare and interesting images.

“This wide-angle image was taken in the Masai Mara, Kenya. I used a Nikon D5 fitted with a Nikkor 16-35mm lens set at 18mm. This equipment was then placed in a sound-proof and bite-proof Aquatech Sound Blimp. The housing was mounted on a radio-controlled 4WD buggy.

“Based on previous experience, I had modified the car body, the regulator and the electric motor to achieve optimal functioning levels with a capacity for extremely slow, soundless and accurate operating ranges. All the essential camera functions, including aperture, shutterspeed, ISO and mode, as well as Live View and focus, I could control with an app on my iPad working via CamRanger WiFi. For this image, which was taken in the late evening, I used two LED Lenser torches as an extra source of light.”

Runner-up: ‘Young Lions Playing’, by Ann Toon, Hexham, United Kingdom
Canon EOS 1D-X, 500mm f/4 + 1.4x Converter @ 700mm, ISO 320, Aperture f/8, Shutter Speed 1/800s, EV 0.0

“One of the many reasons I love photographing in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is the fact that one can often follow the same animals for days on end, learning about their routes of travel and routines of behaviour. The Kalahari’s famous lions are a case in point. Excitement begins with just a handful of paw-prints in the sand. From there, the vastness of the terrain makes the challenge of finding and following the animals a daunting one. If one succeeds, it’s possible to document the subjects’ behaviour quite intimately, creating compositions in which both static and mobile animals can be set off to great effect against a stunning background-wash of semi-desert hues.

“In this instance, we had been following one pride with five playful and mischievous sub-adult cubs for several days. The adult members of the pride favoured a dune at the edge of the Nossob riverbed and that was where we found them on several successive mornings. On this particular day the males of the pride appeared from one side of the dune while the females and cubs arrived from another. The pride was clearly enjoying a reunion and the ritual of refreshing family ties. The younger members were the liveliest ; their fascinating antics and comical play-fights were all part of their instinctive preparation for survival in the harsh, unforgiving eco-system of the Kgalagadi.”

BIRDS OF AFRICA: BEHAVIOURAL

Second Runner-up: ‘Lapwing Bombing Fish Eagle’, by Margaret Olivier, Johannesburg, South Africa
Nikon D3S, 600mm f/4 + 1.4x Converter @ 840mm, ISO 800, Aperture f/8, Shutter Speed 1/5000s, EV -1.3

“While cruising down the Chobe River one morning, we saw a fish eagle lift a huge fish out of the water. Carrying its prize to the shore, it landed on the river bank close to the water’s edge. Almost immediately a lapwing appeared and, with the loud screeching common to these birds when they are in an aggressive mood, it started to attack the eagle. It flew several sorties over the larger bird, which was unable to respond because it was pinning its catch down on the ground. Such was the sustained ferocity of its harassment that we presumed it must have a nest nearby and regarded the eagle as a threat to either its eggs or hatchlings.

“Capturing an image like this presents the multiple challenges of timing, shutterspeed and adequate depth of field settings. Since it is difficult to look through the lens of the camera and with that limited view anticipate exactly when the two subjects will be in perfect proximity to each other, an alternative technique can be used. This involves fixed-focusing the camera on the static bird and watching the impending action over the top of the camera. This allows one the maximum time to anticipate exactly when to trigger the shutter.”

Highly honoured: ‘Feeding the Kids’, by Andrew Schoeman, Sabi Sand, South Africa
Nikon D500, 16-28mm f/2.8 @ 16mm, ISO 800, Aperture f/18, Shutter Speed 1/500s, EV -1.3

“I was visiting a spotted hyena den in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve when I noticed the nest of a yellow-billed hornbill. As is customary with hornbills, the male would deliver food to both the female and her chicks in the nest. Since this meals-on-wings ritual appeared to be repeated approximately every 10 to 15 minutes, I decided to try to photograph it from a different perspective. So I camouflaged my equipment, using bark and leaves, and slowly introduced the bird to the camera setup.

“After a few days the hornbill appeared to be completely habituated to my discreet technological invasion. Having pre-focused my camera on the nest, I used my Camranger to trigger the shutter from a vehicle parked about 20 metres away. Through a process of trial and error exposures, I worked out the most favourable light and depth-of-field settings for the circumstances.

“After four days of experimentation and habituating the hornbill to the camera, I felt ready to consummate the challenge I had set myself. I would be at the nest before dawn, set up the camera and then wait for the sun to rise. Every morning the hornbill would appear with Swiss-clock precision at first light and I would have a window of approximately two hours while the light was perfect before the sun got too high. On average I would be able to take between six and eight images in this time. On the last morning of my vigil, I managed to capture this image.”

BIRDS OF AFRICA: PORTRAITS

Highly honoured: ‘Darter Bath’, by Geo Jooste, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Canon EOS 5D MkIV, 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 @ 180mm, ISO 400, Aperture f/5, Shutter Speed 1/320s, EV -0.3

“The image was taken in the Botanical Gardens of the Free State, South Africa, near Bloemfontein. I had been testing a telephoto lens when this darter suddenly emerged from the water. It lifted itself with a powerful flapping of the wings, before steadying itself and choosing to perch on the single branch of a dead tree. On such occasions, darters tend to shake themselves vigorously, dislodging all the residual water from their feathers. The next step is to stretch both wings out in maximum exposure to the sun to dry away any remaining dampness.

“On this occasion, I was already packing away my gear but instinctively retrieved the camera and started shooting. There was no time to adjust the settings and because it was late in the afternoon with light already quite low, my shutterspeed was slower than I might have chosen had there been time to debate a variety of options. However, the fortuitous result was an interesting display of the water drops shaken off the darter’s wings.”

MAMMALS OF AFRICA: BEHAVIOURAL

Winner: ‘Kudu vs Hyena’, by Maureen Gibson, Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa
Canon EOS 5D MkIV, 500mm f/4 @ 500mm, ISO 800, Aperture f/8, Shutter Speed 1/2000s, EV 0.0

“At 7.30 we arrived at the Chudob waterhole in Etosha National Park, where we saw a large kudu bull lying on the ground as if resting, with some 25 hyenas scattered around in the veld, keeping a close eye on the kudu. We presumed there must have been an encounter between them or some other adversary during the night, because it appeared the antelope had suffered some minor injuries.

“When one of the hyenas approached the kudu, it rose in a defensive stance, lunging at the hyena with its massive set of horns before retreating to the water for protection. Eventually a large female hyena ventured into the water, harassing the kudu for some time before a second hyena joined her. Their persistent snapping with powerful jaws opened a large wound on its back and once the flow of blood quickened, they were joined by other members of the pack and eventually the outnumbered and exhausted kudu succumbed to its injuries and loss of blood.

“It had put up a brave fight and had survived for four hours of torment as we watched another inevitable drama of life and death unfold in the wild. Witnessing such sustained brutality and suffering is emotionally disturbing. Inevitably one is torn between immense sympathy for the victim and a rational acceptance of the pursuers’ need to hunt for survival. Somehow the intensity of the trauma is never effectively erased when people simply shrug their shoulders and say dismissively: ‘Well, that’s nature, you know’.”

Highly honoured: ‘And then there was one’, by Julie Steelman, California, United States of America
Nikon D810, 400mm f/2.8 + 2.0x Converter @ 800mm, ISO 800, Aperture f/8, Shutter Speed 1/8000s, EV -1.3

“The sun was beginning to set in the Kalahari Desert as the time to head back to camp drew near. We decided to pull into one last watering hole and push the limits of our curfew. It was obvious that two springbok had been sparring before we had arrived and one of them was already dead.

“The winner of the battle had inverted horns and they had become stuck around his opponent’s neck, breaking it. The living springbok was trying desperately to free himself, but only succeeded in dragging the other animal around. The weight of the dead springbok on his neck must have been massive. He was becoming fatigued and was wobbling as he walked around, straining from the weight of carrying the dead springbok. He was losing strength quickly and frothing at the mouth.

“You could feel his tension mounting, knowing that he was at risk of losing his life if he didn’t break free. He gave one last tug, and was eventually able to free himself. He stumbled around a bit and shook his neck, needing some time to recover his strength. As soon as he left, two black-backed jackals began to nervously eat their dinner. When we returned to the scene the following morning, there was no sign that anything had happened the night before.”

MAMMALS OF AFRICA: PORTRAITS

Winner: ‘Jumping for Joy’, by Caron Steele, Worcestershire, United Kingdom
Canon EOS 1D-X MkII, 500mm f/4 @ 500mm, ISO 400, Aperture f/5, Shutter Speed 1/5000s, EV -0.7

“One morning, while heading towards the Mara River, we encountered a journey of giraffes. A young female in the family group was cavorting on the track through the bush. She would repeatedly bend down, mimicking drinking behaviour at an imaginary waterhole in the sand. Then, almost theatrically, she would wobble and appear to lose her balance before suddenly jumping up as if startled by some unseen threat to her performance.

“While she might have been performing the slapstick ritual for our amusement, the greater likelihood is that she was learning how to manage her long limbs at a waterhole. Giraffes’ inordinately long legs compel them to assume ungainly and vulnerable postures during their drinking routines. Instinct was perhaps encouraging her to rehearse a quick recovery-and-escape manoeuvre just in case she was ever ambushed by a predator at a waterhole. Whatever excited her performance will remain a mystery, but the entire show was a delight to watch.”

Highly honoured: ‘Trunked for Life’, by Julie Steelman, California, United States of America
Nikon D810, 400mm f/2.8 + 2.0x Converter @ 800mm, ISO 1000, Aperture f/6.3, Shutter Speed 1/3200s, EV -1.7

“Nothing matches being on the Chobe River when the sun sets on Elephant Valley. On this occasion, a large herd of elephant had come to the riverbank to drink, covering the last hundred yards in that stumbling run they generally break into when the smell of immediate water promises to relieve their thirst.

“A young elephant ran around on the river bank, churning up dust and chasing baboons, before it elected to join its mother at the water’s edge. When it did so, it lifted its trunk as if asking the mother to connect with it. There was perhaps an exchange of water, since elephants can use their trunks in the same way that humans use a drinking straw. But if that were the case, the connection between the two went on a little longer than one might have expected, and seemed to enter the realms of a tangible gesture of affection. The slightly tilted head of the youngster and the way it seemed to lean comfortably against its mother’s trunk speaks of an immense sense of security. The look of contentment in its eyes as it stares unfazed at the lens of my camera further endorses the love that binds the two so indivisibly together.

“The warm afternoon light revealed the detail in the skin of both animals. The smooth texture of the calf’s legs is in stark contrast to the mother’s worn skin, that shows all the signs of wear and tear from years of trekking through rough terrain.

“Elephants tend to be demonstrably frank in expressing their feelings among one another and the tenderness of this particular interaction makes it one of my favourite images.”

REPTILES AND AMPHIBIANS OF AFRICA

First Runner-up: ‘Engulfed’, by Jaco Marx, Bethlehem, South Africa
Canon EOS 1D-X, 500mm f/4 @ 500mm, ISO 400, Aperture f/7.1, Shutter Speed 1/2000s, EV 0.0

“During our ten-day stay in the Mara Triangle, we were fortunate to witness a few river crossings, often comprising between 2000 and 5000 wildebeest. What we were not fully prepared to endure, however, was the Nile crocodile activity that is an inevitable factor in the migration equation. The brutality of that component was far beyond what we had bargained for.

“On our first day, we encountered a crossing and watched a large contingent of crocodiles congregating in an area of the river below a bank where the wildebeest were gathering in their numbers. The evident menace of the reptiles did not deter the wildebeest. It is almost as if a reckless, collective death-wish grips the herd and nothing will stop them from plunging into the muddy waters of the river. Driven by their seemingly demented mob psychology, they unleash chaos as they descend the banks in waves and the gigantic crocodiles launch their feeding frenzy.

“As we watched the crossing unfold, other animals joined in, including the ubiquitous zebra, Thompson’s gazelle and topi. I kept my eyes on one particular gazelle, fairly slight in stature, and saw how an enormous crocodile engulfed it in a single snap of its huge jaws. The frantic eyes of this gazelle are indelibly etched into my mind. The image reminds me of the inexorable cycle of birth, life and death in the ironic world of nature’s beauty and brutality. This image was my first ever of a crocodile kill and the moment will stay with me forever.”

Highly honoured: ‘Cape Cobra vs Mole Snake’, by Corlette Wessels, Johannesburg, South Africa
Nikon D700, 200-400mm f/4 @ 400mm, ISO 1250, Aperture f/22, Shutter Speed 1/1600s, EV -1.3

“While we were driving to the Kamqua picnic site, we saw something ahead of us in the road. Slowing the car down to walking pace, we realised that it was a large Cape cobra. Our first presumption was that a car had driven over it as its writhing was consistent with injury. However, once we got closer it became evident that the cobra had another snake in its mouth. We identifed the other reptile as a mole snake and I mentioned to my family that the cobra should win the contest very easily because it is highly venomous, whose neurotoxic venom very quickly paralyses its prey.

“But I was wrong about an easy victory! The mole snake was bravely biting back, and at one point it wrapped itself tightly around the cobra’s head in an attempt to strangle it. Then the cobra extracted itself from the strangulation grip and slithered to the verge of the road, dragging the mole snake with it. Miraculously the latter escaped into the grass and quickly sought safety in the branches of a bush. The cobra followed, determined not to let its meal escape, and viciously sank its lethal fangs into the body of its non-venomous prey. Within minutes the mole snake became visibly lethargic and, as its movements ground to a halt, the cobra started to ingest it, head first.

“The incident inspired in me a huge respect for the pluckiness of the mole snake. Not until it was finally conquered by the lethal injection of venom did it capitulate. It fought bravely to the death.”

AFRICA UP CLOSE

Second Runner-up: ‘Mantis Portrait’, by Johann Mader, Pretoria, South Africa
Nikon D750, 105mm f/2.8 @ 105mm, ISO 800, Aperture f/22, Shutter Speed 1/160s, EV -0.7

“It was in the northern area of the Kruger National Park where I saw a praying mantis loitering among some mopane leaves. It was clearly looking for prey, engaging in those slow, measured, back-and-forth movements that make it look like a perpetual-motion toy held together by elastic hinges.

“I positioned myself so that the sun was behind the mantis, creating an enchanting effect of back-lighting that sharply defined the shape of the insect. By waiting until the mantis was transferring from one leaf to another and then timing my shutter release to coincide with its suspension between the two leaves, I hoped to create the portrait composition of an insect framed by the leaves of its habitat.”

AFRICA AT SEA

Highly honoured: ‘Wide Wild Fish’, by Fabrice Guerin, Unay-sous-Auneau, France
Canon EOS 5D MkIII, 16-35mm f/4 @ 20mm, ISO 800, Aperture f/4.5, Shutter Speed 1/200s, EV 0.0

“In winter, whale sharks come to feed in the nutrient-rich waters of the Gulf of Tadjourah, Djibouti. For the past two years, I have been working on Sharky DJ2, studying whale sharks in this area. As a photographer, I help identify each whale shark by its sex and various marks on its body. Using a tracker, we follow them for a few weeks. This enables us to gather information on the biggest fish in the world.

“While little is known about the whale shark’s migration and reproduction habits, they occur seasonally around the east coast of Africa, where the waters are rich in plankton. Our studies show that a few individual whale sharks are recurrent in this Gulf.

“Their average lifespan ranges between 70 and 100 years and the adults can grow as large as 8-12 metres long. Although they don’t have many natural predators, humans pose the greatest threat to whale sharks. Their slow reproductive cycle and low fecundity makes the whale shark vulnerable to overfishing. This concern is further highlighted by their friendly nature, which makes them even more susceptible to human interaction.”

YOUTH AWARD

Winner: ‘Silhouette Cheetah’, by Pradyuman Samant, Maharashtra, India
Canon EOS 1D-X, 300mm f/4 @ 300mm, ISO 800, Aperture f/7.1, Shutter Speed 1/8000s, EV -2.0

“Having already had seven rewarding days in the Masai Mara, on the last day a friend and I braved the icy cold of the morning to take a drive. It was so cold that my hands were numb and I wondered how I would operate the camera settings if we were to encounter something worth photographing. Such had been the good fortunes of our stay and so extensive the catalogue of images we had collected, that we decided to stop only if we came across a very special sighting. Preference was given to an area where the previous evening we had seen a pair of lions mating.

“On our way there our guide suddenly spotted something on a sand dune some distance away. As we came closer I could see two cheetahs. Having had cheetahs at close quarters for some definitive shots the previous day, I decided to try something more creative with this sighting. It offered the option of shooting from some considerable distance and against the light for a silhouette result.”

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