For the past few weeks I have been looking through my recent pictures and noticed that there are quite a few that don’t form part of a greater story, but are still worthy of being posted on the blog. I decided, therefore, to publish another photographic tribute to the world famous leopards of Londolozi using these images.
Many of these are images that I was experimenting with and trying something different from the classic leopard portrait. As such, quite a few of these are slightly abstract, but I am really happy with the end result and I hope that you will all appreciate the artistic angle.
This weeks article features some of the leopards we have come to know so well, including the Nyeleti 4:3 young male, the Mashaba female, the Camp Pan male, the Maxabene 3:2 young male and the Tamboti female.
Take some time out of your busy day, grab a cup of coffee and browse through these images showcasing some of our finest leopards. Enjoy and I hope that you get a couple of photographic ideas for your next safari.
The Nyeleti 4:3 young male watches a clan of hyena from behind a bush. His camouflage works perfectly in the dappled shade and only his piercing eyes give him away.
The afternoon sun reflects off of the Nyeleti 4:3 young male’s eyes as he watches some birds fly out of a nearby tree.
Still being harassed by a clan of young hyena, the Nyeleti young male keeps a close eye on them as he walks across a fallen over Marula tree.
We were driving along the Sand River just before sunrise hoping to bump into a leopard. As if on cue, as we rounded a bend in the road, we noticed the Mashaba female. As the sun was rising, she decided to pose for us. I really wanted to capture all of the colours of the sunrise as well as the beauty of the leopard in the foreground. Unfortunately it isn’t possible to expose different parts of the picture differently, so I had to expose for the sky. I had to then increase the brightness of the leopard using Adobe Lightroom. The end result was this surreal image which I actually quite like.
After the sunrise, the Mashaba female carried on walking downstream towards Plaque rock. I have always wanted to see a leopard perched on these beautiful granite boulders and battled to contain my excitement as we raced to try and get into position. She jumped onto the rocks, allowing for an amazing picture with the granite boulders as a background. As she jumped onto the rocks, the sun caught her golden coat making her really stand out in front of the rocks.
The Ravenscourt female was lying in the afternoon sun, allowing the light to catch her head. I positioned the vehicle so that the rest of her body was in a shadow and then used spot metering to expose for her head. The effect I was wanting was that her head would be correctly exposed, while the rest of her would be quite dark. I exaggerated this effect by using a vignette during processing.
The Maxabene 3:2 young male sporting the wounds of his interaction with the Tamboti female. I’ve included this picture because I liked the effect of the rim of light around his head produced by the backlighting. I felt that it made the image slightly different from a normal portrait and a bit more dramatic.
The Camp Pan male had just finished feeding on an impala and was very lethargic, providing few photographic opportunities. The light, however, was close to perfect, so I decided to try something different. As he lifted his head to check on the kill he had hoisted into a tree, the sun caught his eyebrows and the top of his head, making for an interesting picture.
The second in this series is a close up of the fur on the Camp Pan male’s very full belly as he lies in the early morning sun. Again, something slightly abstract, but something we seldom take the time to look at and appreciate.
The Tamboti female climbed to the top of a termite mound to gain a better vantage point from which to survey her surrounds in central Londolozi. Her timing couldn’t have been better as the first rays of light reflected off of her body and the grass on the termite mound.
Again something more abstract. The white tipped tail that is so often the only indication of a leopard’s presence, perfectly illuminated in the morning light.
The Tamboti female gazes over her territory. I love the character shown by the way she is holding her tail, as well as the unmistakable backdrop of the African bushveld.
Written and photographed by James Crookes