Do you ever think back to a specific photograph or series of photographs and reminisce what happened and the events that led up to those photographs?
I know we all have a portfolio of our favourite images, I know that even though I have that portfolio, there are certain images or a series of images that I love to go back, look at and re live that incredible moment, especially when its an image/s the you have had in your mind for a very long time.
This particular set of images, is about a young leopard in the Sabi Sands, now working in the Sabi Sands, as a guide you are very fortunate and privileged with the amount of big cats you get to see and the quality time you share not only with the big cats, but with wildlife in general.
So, having said all that and being a photographer, I had a specific shot in mind. Now, when it comes to wildlife photography, you cannot force an image, you cannot create the image, you have to simply take what nature gives you.
I truly believe that, yes you should have images in mind, BUT it isn't all about those images. First should be the love of wildlife and being able to have the opportunity and second should be about getting a photograph - NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.
When I started my photographic journey, I was really excited, I literally photographed everything and anything and I feel grateful that I did that because it taught me so much about my camera and how it works.
Then after a couple of years I moved to the Sabi Sands and was in complete shock at the number of leopard sightings and the quality time is spent with a number of individuals.
Over time, I started to picture specific images in my mind, to try and create a diverse portfolio and to challenge myself as a photographer. Like I said there are so many elements out of our control that affect the image we have in mind, but every now and then you get a brief glimpse of the vision you have in your head and that happened one morning out on safari.
We were looking for leopard and literally had searched the entire morning. on our way back to camp, we came across a young male leopard hanging around a small water source. We were obviously all ecstatic because we had searched all morning and finally found a leopard.
As we spent time with him, he went to the waters edge, had a drink and noticed some terrapins. Being young this got his attention because they were all sitting on a small island not too far from him. He finished drinking, sat up and walked along the edge towards the island, of course the terrapins got a fright and jumped into the water. It was quite tricky to see so we repositioned and when we stopped, this young male leopard was sitting on this island.
Suddenly, the shot in my mind had become a reality. I was guiding photographic guests at the time and told them what could potentially happen and we all got our settings right.
The only way for him off this island was the way he came, the other side was very densely vegetated. So I told my guests, if you can, zoom out slightly and get ready for him to jump back to the left, having said that he could also have walked through the shallow waters, but we know cats don't like water.
We must have sat for about 10 - 15minutes making jokes about how shaky we are holding our cameras up and then suddenly! he started to move, I told everyone to get ready and the next thing, he jumped! From right to left over the water and I am pleased to say all the guests managed to get it.
It was just incredible to be in that moment on that vehicle discussing different options, getting ourselves in the right position and to top it off, we all got the hero shot.
Not only was it an incredible morning spent watching this young leopard do its thing, but for us to put our heads together and create a potential shot that may or may not happen is what photography is all about.
Such a special moment.
Until next time,