Probably the most sought after subject on a photographic safari to Africa is the majestic and elusive leopard. Because of their secretive nature and perfect camouflage, they are hard to spot (pun intended). Lurking in the dense foliage of riverine forest or the undergrowth of more open savanna, we will often be very close to them without us ever knowing. As is often said, it is only to a leopard to decide when it wants to be seen. A decent sighting of a leopard remains a special treat on any safari, and still, after several encounters, I get shivers down my spine and an unfamiliar fear of failure creeps upon me when I see on in the open. With all other subjects, I just calmly aim, focus, decide on the composition and fire away. But with leopards, I first have to control myself before controlling the camera, which greatly increases the chance of technical mistakes. I am happy to have succesfully overcome my leoparditis on most occasions, with the proof in my archives. Above is an image of a huge male, moving through the high grass on a sunny winters day. Around noon, shadows are deep and dark and the rosette pattern of the skin enables this fat cat to blend with the surroundings. We followed it for a while, losing sight of it often, only to relocate it when we saw movement in a sunlit patch somewhere further up in the field. By underexposing and converting into B&W, I was able to create this moody image.

If you want to experience the thrill of finding and photographing a leopard in the wild, there are still spots available on my phototour to the Maasai Mara this October. Contact me for more details.

Leopard Male; Canon 5D Mark III w. 500/4L IS.