Whew, six weeks after my South African Safari to Singita Sabi Sands, and I'm still not done processing all the photos. I will now work sequentially through the trip, sharing photos and tips and technique along the way. Our first afternoon's game drive set the standard for the 8 days to follow! After seeing elephant, rhino, giraffe, many kinds of antelopes and more, it was nearly sunset time. We then heard over the radio that others in our group had spotted a leopard - so we headed straight to it. Now I've always said we get close, but we were seriously close! I'm talking 70-200mm close.
A beautiful male leopard sitting in the road. And then the female approaches! Keep in mind that by this time it is about 20-25 minutes past sunset, getting dark and what remaining light was very red, so we're all scrambling with fast glass and high ISOs. I shot all of these with the Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS II at ISO 6400. As I posted before, I went "bi-cameral" on this safari, shooting both Canon 5D III and Nikon D800. It's a fascinating scene to watch unfold, the female presents herself to the male in a way that he can't mistake that she's "ready".
And they proceed. This is not something out of a romance novel, it's raw, fierce, intense and over before you know it.
The male proceeds to give her a little love-bite... just after letting out the loudest growl I've ever heard.
And at this point, she's had enough and tells him how she really feels. The time elapsed from when she presented, to when she says "get off" was 11 seconds. Oh and we saw this scene repeat 5 times!
Just before leaving the scene for the evening, the male leopard struck a contented pose. I processed this one in black and white, it seemed fitting for the subject and mood.
Some key takeaways: Be ready for anything! You have to have long glass and short glass ready in an instant. Be able to keep your shutter speed up! Even at 1/400th of a second, I was wishing for more - but I really wanted to stay at ISO 6400. The animals are moving and the shots are hand-held, speed matters.
We have room for you on our next African Safari, in February 2013!
Enjoy (doing it in the road) photography,