“In photography there is a reality so subtle, that it becomes more real than reality.” – Ansel Adams

As guides we have the rare privilege of going out into pristine wilderness on a daily basis to observe some truly wonderful creatures. Some of us carry cameras to capture moments that we will carry with us forever. I am one of those guides and have become a big fan of close up pictures over the years. I feel that this kind of photograph draws your eye to something you may otherwise overlook completely, such as the length of whiskers, variety of colour in the eye or detail of the coat. There is less distraction in the picture and you start to notice the smaller things. The most powerful of these details has to be an animal’s eye in my opinion. Each and every one of them is different and when you look into the eye of an animal it holds your attention. Spending time with these animals, we’re privileged enough to start noticing the varying personalities and quirks of these individual animals and for me, the eye is one of the first windows into this.

Enjoy this collection of images, which attempt to take you a little deeper into the lives of these wonderful creatures and encourages you to look at wildlife photography from a slightly different angle.

This half-faced shot of the Nkoveni female’s cub draws attention to the incredibly long whiskers that a leopard has. If a leopard is stalking prey through thick brush and their whiskers touch the vegetation, they then know that their shoulders will too. This helps them to move soundlessly.

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Nkoveni 2:2 Female
2012 - present

A young female that lives to the east and south of camp. Easily recognised by her 2:2 spot pattern she is often to be found in Marula trees.

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Nkoveni 2:2 Female

Lineage
Sunsetbend
Identification
markings
Timeline
45 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
2 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist

I had never seen the pupil of a hyena properly until this photograph. I was able to get it as this hyena focused in on a leopard feeding above, hoping to catch a morsel of dropped meat.

This unique angle enhances the eye of this young cub as it looked towards the light.

A leopard cub stalks closer to our vehicle in some dark thickets once again helping to enhance some beautiful eyes through contrast of colour.

Details such as a reflection in this lionesses eye as well as a nick out of her forehead become possible when you remove any surrounding distraction in an image.

A close up shot of a female ostrich. Not only do these creatures have fascinating eyes but also beautiful eyelashes.

An intense stare from the Piva male leopard. This male has been put under a lot of pressure by the Inyatini male of late and has some serious battle scars to show for it.

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This leopard was the first cub of the Nottens female, and therefore inherited the royal blood of the original Mother Leopard.

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Piva 2:2 Female

Lineage
Mother Leopard
Identification
markings
Timeline
4 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
1 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist

One of the Noveni female’s cubs watches her sibling feeding above. The light of the afternoon helping to add light to some incredible eyes.

A close up shot of a young Mhangeni lion. This pride has been on Londolozi for the last week or so, following a large herd of buffalo.

Filed under Wildlife

Involved Leopards

Nkoveni 2:2 Female

Nkoveni 2:2 Female

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Piva 2:2 Female

Piva 2:2 Female

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About the Author

Nick Kleer

Field Guide

Nick joined the Londolozi team from Thornybush Game Reserve, and immediately began revealing his photographic potential, especially in the passion with which he pursued knowledge. An almost fanatical approach to improving his photography has seen him gain a rapid understanding of all the ...

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12 Comments

on Pay Close Attention

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Jeff Rodgers

The favorite images I have taken during almost 20 years of safari (including 8 visits to Londolozi) are of animal faces, particularly the eyes. Thanks for this post, one of my favorites.

Gawie Jordaan

Brilliant perspective so close!! Great Camera work!

Jazz Doc

Wonderful study – intense images. Loved this piece!

Ian Hall

Super photos, we haven’t heard much about the ostrich family of late?
Updates please.

Denise Vouri

Wow! Your photos move me and inspire me. The catch light in their eyes is a window to their souls. Stunning photos, beautiful prose…. question? What length lens are you using? Deep cropping? Keep up your great work.

Mary Beth Wheeler

Love your close-up shots, Nick! My preferred perspective as well. Not not only does personality show through, but the images always get “wows!”

Michael & Terri Klauber

Incredible shots Nick! Love the tight focus on the eyes!

James Tyrrell

Some epic shots here Nick!!
My best has to be the hyena!

Jill Larone

These are all really beautiful close-up photos, Nick, but with the sad news today, it is especially beautiful seeing the closeup of the legendary Piva male. Thank you for capturing this and sharing it with us.

Darlene Knott

Love these photos! The ostrich eye–wow, who would have guessed that? Fantastic information about the leopard and how it uses its whiskers. I just got to this post, so now I look at the photo of the Piva male and am saddened to know that no more photos will be taken of him! Thank you, Nick, for your interesting post!

Irene Nathanson

So difficult to get the eyes in focus like that. Amazing photos. The detail their soul is in there

Callum Evans

Absolutely unbelievable photos!! I really love your close-up photoss of big cats, they really give a different perspective. I’m also fascintaed by the textures in their eyes (which are also some of the best for nocturnal hunting), it’s just incredible!

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