Africa Live 2016-02: 03 part 2, Glorious light

Hi all. We are back with the next post from our wonderful time in the Mara.

We had a hunch Fig and cub may be in an area not too far from camp and me being obsessed with Leopards we made our way over.

Charles (our guide) is on top form and once we were in the area we found her cub attempting to eat. Clearly mum was near as there was no way he could have taken down this Warthog himself…

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Wonderful! Always gives me a rush when we find our Leopards.

 

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Clearly struggling to even eat this kill (due to the softer teeth and inexperience). Mum must have been nearby.

 

It was only a few moments until we saw a quick flick of the tail and mum sat up. It never fails to surprise me how close we can be to a Leopard and not be aware of its presence, even when looking specifically in the right spot!

 

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Our suspicions confirmed, mere meters away.

 

I was ready to get started on some super close up shots as the light was pretty flat due to the grassy dip they were in. However in true Mara style the light took a dramatic change.

Purely due to good fortune a gap in the clouds opened up and the light shone directly into the dip with the foreground grass still blocking the light from the rear side. It was amazing.

The light bathed the two of them with their brighter fur whilst keeping the background shadowed and subdued. I immediately saw the potential and shouted out instructions to underexpose! Being on my black and white adventure I went 2 stops under from what the camera was advising knowing I will pump the contrast up slightly when processing the raw. Love it!

 

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When the light is this good all you need is to underexpose at capture time and add a little contrast to deepen those shadows.

 

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A wonderfully relaxed Fig and just active enough for us to get some great poses but not so much to move out of the light pocket.

 

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Finally mum made her way over and began to get to work on the kill. The cub wasn’t far behind and was clearly learning through observation.

 

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As often happens with feeding, it all begins at the belly.

 

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Often with my more atmospheric shots I get asked what I have done, if anything, in Lightroom and what the scene looked like to the eye. Below you can see here how they were positioned in the small dip with the light striking them

Light this dramatic doesn’t happen that often I always get excited when it does.

 

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The magic pair. Their bond is incredibly strong, however the club clearly isn’t a sharer and mum often has to chastise him after he gets a little aggressive towards her when they are both feeding.

 

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After a quick feed it was time to stash the meal. Leopards, whilst certainly a lot stronger than Cheetahs still have to be cautious about having kills stolen. Their ability in the trees and huge strength makes them very able to hide food up and out of reach.

 

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Suddenly mum grabbed one prepared she’d earlier! A Scrub Hair kill that had been secreted on the bushes behind.

 

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We actually suspected that she was using the Scrub Hair to distract the cub as she prepared to drag the Warthog to a nearby tree.

 

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Checking out the nearby tree options for stashing the kill

As she surveyed the tree next to their location, it was clearly not big enough to take the kill up and leave there safely.

We immediately knew she would be soon dragging it elsewhere and with only one likely choice nearby and the long grass we made our way to the base of that tree to get in position ahead of time (being ahead of the animal’s intentions is essential to a lot of my work’s success).

Boy am I glad we did, check in next time to see what we came away with! Thanks for stopping by this time, see you in a few days back here the blog. If you have any questions or comments, head on over to facebook and just let me know.

Rich.

 

 

 

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