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.
I found this moulin while exploring under a glacier. Checking PhotoPills showed that the moving stars would match the sweep of the moulin perfectly so I came back on a clear night for the shot. After getting my exposure set for the stars I locked my shutter release open so it would shoot one image after another until the battery died. I sat outside the cave for safety (in case it collapsed during the 2.5 hour shoot) and to make sure I didn’t accidentally shine my headlamp and ruin the image.
This image was captured in late afternoon in early December, 2018. As the sun was setting I saw the light happening through the trees. I set up for this composition, captured several frames to adjust for the desired exposure and told myself that, if I could capture a couple of cranes flying between the trees, that would be ideal. The cranes were foraging through the grasses and would occasionally fly. These 2 provided just what I had pre-visualized and I captured the frame.
After years of annual winter visits to Yellowstone, this rare opportunity to photograph wolves near the road occurred. The large Wapiti Lake wolf pack had been taking down bison in the general area. Late one afternoon we saw an injured bison along the Madison River. Overnight the bison was taken by the wolves and early the next morning we saw the mostly eaten carcass near the road with wolves nearby. I stood on the road for hours and had the chance to see the wolves’ behavior and hear them howling, a thrilling experience.
What I Used
I used a Canon 1Dx MKII camera with Canon 600mm f/4 MKII lens + 1.4x III extender at 840mm focal length. I chose camera settings of 1/1600 sec at f/8, ISO 2500, +2 EV. Using a sturdy tripod with a gimbal I was relying on this steady support in low light to get crisp images from a great distance away. The bison carcass was close but the wolves were coming and going at various distances away.
I am an enthusiastic hobbyist and been photographing nature and wildlife for 15 years. My favorite location to go for wildlife would have to be Africa where there are just so many locations with opportunities to observe and photograph animal behavior. All of my trips to Africa included photography on the Chobe River, Botswana, a very productive location.
My Photographic Journey
I started out photographing landscapes, then became interested in wildlife and birds in flight. What keeps me interested is watching animal behavior, photographing them in their habitat, and learning about the ability of animals to adapt and survive; I could watch them all day. One winter we stood on the road in Yellowstone watching a red fox sleep for 5 hours waiting for it to move! CNP Safaris in Africa has been critical to improving my photography and training me how to get the best images possible. With expert guidance I would say you just don’t stop learning and improving.
NANPA and Me
I have been a member for 11 years now. I’d never heard of NANPA until I saw NANPA’s Road Shows advertised in OutdoorPhotographer magazine. I attended a one in Sacramento, California, and was impressed and inspired. I have entered the Showcase since 2015 and have had numerous top 250 images over that time. In 2017 I was honored to have my image of Snow Monkeys awarded Best in Show, Mammals.
Tonight, at 11 PM Eastern Time, the entry window for NANPA’s Showcase Competition closes. Have you got your entries in or are you a procrastinator? I’ll confess to sometimes waiting until the last minute to get something done. The important thing is actually getting it done. So, the good news is: You still have time. The bad news is: Not much!
It is always amazing to look back through my collection of
older NANPA Expressions magazines (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2018 and 2019) featuring the top 250 photos from the Showcase competition for that year. I may be missing a few years in my collection, but I am sure the photos in those years are incredible too. NANPA has a lot of really, really talented photographers and I am always in awe of the award-winning nature images our members capture. Occasionally, I have been fortunate to have an image place in the top 250 and I always enjoy seeing my photograph along with all of the other spectacular photos.