My Favourite Image of 2020

A large dose of luck and a lot of patience came together one evening at Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve.

The story begins earlier in the morning when we found a male leopard that had killed a kudu. He had eaten a fair amount of the kill - sharing willingly with a couple of hyaenas that were capitalising on an easy meal.

His initial appetite satiated, he moved away from the carcass and we left him flat as a pancake (apart from the very obvious bulging belly) in the shade of a small bush where we anticipated finding him later that afternoon.

Returning later that afternoon we probably spent the best part of 3 hours sitting watching him do nothing but sleep and yawn before two spotted hyena eventually applied enough pressure to motivate him to do something other than sleep.

Luckily for us he decided to climb this fallen tree and pose for a couple of minutes with the night sky as the backdrop.

Andrew Beck Wild Eye Sabi Sabi
Canon EOS R6, Canon 35mm F1.8 @F1.8, ISO 10000, 8.0 sec

I love the way that the subject and the night sky are completely separated by the shallow depth of field used to shoot the scene (wide open to take in as much light as possible whilst using a soft light to paint the scene).

The incredibly shallow depth of field even at 35mm should give you an idea of how close we were to our subject!

This was a tricky balance of exposing the scene for long enough to capture the night sky but also to try and eliminate any movement of the subject during the period that the scene was lit by the soft light.

In the end, it may not be technically perfect and there are certainly other ways that one could have photographed this scene but this image and moment will forever be etched in my memory as an absolute highlight.

Andrew Beck

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