About the Author

James Tyrrell


James had hardly touched a camera when he came to Londolozi, but his writing skills that complemented his Honours degree in Zoology meant that he was quickly snapped up by the Londolozi blog team. An environment rich in photographers helped him develop the ...

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on Photographing Leopards in Trees on Cloudy Days: What to Do

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Interesting and informative based on many years of experience. I can apply this same information to many other situations. Thank you

James, I went on a National Geographic trip in Antarctica – there several photographers there, and they told me same thing. That when it is sunny you step down 2 settings, and when it is cloudy you step up 2 settings. It worked perfectly! Thanks again for the reminder

THANK YOU! It seems counter intuitive to switch to spot metering and then over expose for bright conditions, but it works. I know from experience that in the excitement of spotting any animal in a unique or desirable position, one quickly sets fstop, shutter speed and iso, but forgets the metering button/exposure compensation dial….. sometimes it’s just good to be in the moment and leave your camera in your lap.

Thanks James! Sean Z was very helpful with this very situation and Day 2 photos were much better!

Great tips, thanks for sharing!

Excellent information and advice, James. Your explaination was clear. Good teaching!

Thanks Joanne!

James, That is a great tip and we will give it a try. We usually use the exposure dial with pretty good luck, but changing the metering might make a big difference from what we saw in your images. Thanks!

Hi Micheal,
It’s much of a muchness really. Both methods are very effective and usually just need a little tweaking to dial the settings in properly…

Senior Digital Ranger

Photographing a leopard in a tree (Phil’s version). Step 1: Have a camera card inserted with 500+ photos available. Step 2: Snap photo after photo after photo. Never mind if you use up several hundred photos because while it may be cheating, the wonderful age of digital photography ensures you will get two or three dozen money shots. Step 3: Imagine every single way you can photograph the treed leopard and take multiples of each idea. Again, repetition is your friend. Step 4: Sometime after half an hour with leopard, silly season will set in. Don’t forget to take selfie with leopard in background….style points if leopard is yawning. Step 5: By now you’ve shot up half a camera card on the treed leopard and finally you can allow for a little patience. In my experience, nothing beats the leopard looking directly at you, so wait for the look and be ready to snap. Yawns are also your friend (you can tell friends and colleagues back home that the leopard was sawing angrily and they won’t no the distance. Just kidding. You really should follow James’ advice as his years of leopard viewing far exceed my snapshot of leopard viewing on a couple visits.

Hahaha Phil you should print your own manual! Are you sure 500 photos on the memory card is enough…? 😉

Senior Digital Ranger

Literally took 400+ of Mashaba female sharing a treed impala kill with her daughter the now Ximungwe female May 2016.

Senior Digital Ranger

James…good stuff as usual. I take another approach which has worked out well..I use a flash with flash extender (originally a Better Beamer, but more recently, Mag Mod system). The only drawback I have found is the time it takes to sometimes get the extender in position..so, I mostly just keep the flash and extender in place in backlit or dark shadow or early am/late pm situations. Keep up good work…we always enjoy your entries. Looking forward to meeting you some day…BTW, I use a Canon 1Dx with 100-400..bigger lens (600) is just too unwieldy for me. J

Good advice! One of my mentor’s once said to me that if I was shooting anything with lots of sky behind or beach or snow, then I needed to override the camera’s automatic assumptions for exposure by “adding light” (+) to avoid silhouetting the subject. And conversely, if the subject was brightly spotlighted against a dark background, then I needed to “subtract light” (-) to balance out the picture. Not sure if this helps but it’s just another take on the problem. Most folks don’t realize that cameras CAN be fooled despite being marketed as completely “automatic”. Unfortunately, Londolozi is almost continually bathed in bright light but fortunately most of the safari critters are on the ground!!!

I never used the exposure dial and photographing birds in a tree proved to be difficult. Never got a good result. Last year in Kgalagadi someone showed me how to use the exposure disl and since tgen my photos are much better.

Thank you for this post, it was very helpful!

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