LEOPARD CUB

By Lindsey Bucknor

Camera: Sony Alpha 700

Lens: Tamron SPAF 200-500mm f/5-6.3 Di

Exposure: l/500sec at f/6.3 (ISO 800)

Lindsey says: «This leopard cub was six metres off the ground and I had to compose the shot from a vehicle. As the cub was in shade, I boosted the ISO to 800 to ensure a fast shutter speed and waited for a hint of eye contact before firing off a series of images. This was my favourite.»

LEE FROST: Having tried my hand at a little wildlife photography from a vehicle while in Namibia last year, I know only too well how tricky it can be to get decent shots without lots of experience and skill (both of which I lack! ). My hat therefore goes off to Lindsey for this cracking shot of a leopard cub. It’s framed nice and tight, the leopard’s head has been positioned using the rule-of-thirds for compositional balance, and its eyes are pin sharp. More importantly, that stare is mesmerising and draws you in. I also like the fact that it’s not immediately obvious what the leopard is eating, so the image holds your attention for longer as you try to work outwhat’s going on. I think the weakest part for me is the background, as it’s quite cluttered and bright. But given that Lindsey was shooting from a vehicle, he’s done an excellent job, and the light on the leopard is perfect due to it being in the shade of the tree. Lindsey could probably play down the background in Photoshop, but the majority of wildlife photographers like to keep their images natural, so he may prefer to leave well alone.

Verdict: A well-composed wildlife shot that grabs the attention and holds it.

• ROSS HODDINOTT: Safaris are a g great way to get within picture-taking range of some amazing wildlife. However, that’s not to say that capturing great wildlife images is easy while on safari. Shooting from a vehicle can be very restrictive and you still need good technique and ability if you’re to return from your trip with some great shots. I think Lindsey can be pleased with this one. Rather than take the easy option, and shoot the standard big-cat portrait, he’s tried to capture an element of behaviour. The eye contact is good — although had the young leopard being looking right down Lindsey’s lens, I think the shot would have had even more impact. It’s a shame there is a branch growing up right behind the cub’s head, but I doubt there was anything Lindsey could have done to exclude this. I think my only major grumble about this shot is regarding the crop. I think it either needed to be wider, to show the entire animal and some of its surroundings; or tighter, to place more emphasis on the cat and its prey. Personally, I think a tighter crop would work well. It would help reduce the amount of tree in the bottom corner, which is quite dominant. Verdict: A really nice capture, with good eye contact and interest. I think the image would benefit from a slightly tighter crop.

KNOW YOUR CAMERA

Safaris are often hit and miss, as you can spend hours looking for your subject, only to be given a fleeting glance before they scarper. Therefore it’s important to be prepared and know your kit! Here, Lindsey has used the fully auto program mode, letting the camera take care of the exposure while he concentrates on his subject. He’s also selected a higher ISO rating in order to maintain a fast shutter speed, ensuring a blur-free shot.

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