How I Got the Shot
We were coming back to camp in Kruger National Park with friends from Johannesburg. It was getting late when this female leopard stepped onto the road and stared at us briefly before crossing into bushes on the other side. Surprisingly, she sat down calmly before disappearing. I had little time to think for this shot so I quickly supported my Nikon D4 and 200-400mm lens on the window ledge and began to shoot. At that moment I whispered to myself as I so often do with wildlife: “Turn your head, turn your head!” And she did. The moment was spellbinding.
What I Used
You are not allowed to leave your vehicle in Kruger, except in a camp or a few designated places. Wildlife is so abundant, however, that shooting from a vehicle is no punishment and mostly safer than walking anyway. In challenging and changing lighting I often use auto ISO – this shot was done at ISO 2500.
The final image was achieved with the use of Photoshop and Topaz filters, mostly by turning it into a black and white, but keeping the glow of those intense eyes and a bit of warmth in the background. Sometimes altered reality works.
I am fortunate to live in Southern Manitoba not too far from the best place in the world to photograph polar bears – Churchill on Hudson Bay. Having a career in public school education allowed me to spend summers chasing wildlife. Retirement allowed me to switch from enthusiastic hobbyist to part time professional photographer. I became quite serious about photography in the 1980’s when I started to lead photography workshops for the Churchill Northern Studies Centre. Not long after I became a guide for Churchill Wild in polar bear country and the bears have become my favorite animal ever since.
My Photographic Journey
I fell in love with nature as I wandered through the forests and mountains of Juneau, Alaska, and started in photography as a way to document the beauty I was seeing. As I traveled more around the world I wanted to take higher quality images that really expressed the dynamic nature of each location. The variety of places I visit really keeps me engaged as I try out different techniques. I’m mostly self-taught, but have picked up rough ideas on technique from a wide variety of photographers (which I then hack away at in the field until I figure them out).
One morning in May, when I was 10 or 11 and on my way to school, I encountered a Chestnut-sided Warbler at eye level and only a few feet away. It was a life-changing experience that led me into a serious birding passion.
Eventually, I realized that I was missing glorious opportunities to photograph amazing birds and animals and soon a wildlife photographer was born.
My growing interest in photography led me to a 12 day workshop on the Queen Charlotte Islands (now Haida Gwaii) with one of my most inspiring mentors, Freeman Patterson. His creative vision is legendary.
I discovered then that “Beauty is everywhere if you look, but it begins first of all in the heart.”
NANPA and Me
I was a member of NANPA quite a few years ago but let it lapse. Two years ago I decided to rejoin and this is my first Showcase experience since then. Living in Canada makes it difficult to get involved but I’m glad to be a member with so many great and enthusiastic photographers who love and respect nature.
Learn More About Me
I have drifted away from posting online because it can be very time consuming. I do the occasional post when I have a workshop or show approaching and will certainly post about NANPA now!
I do have a website www.dennisfast.com and was recently accepted onto Great Big Canvas where people can see more of my work and order prints. I am also looking to establish a presence on Instagram.
For more information about me and my work , see
My NANPA Showcase Portfolio