Africa Live 2016-02: 05 #2, Art Attack

Welcome back to our blog and the continuation of our day. Before we kick off I’ll mention we are just about to finalise our next Big Cats safari. I have too many commitments in place to run one in the very near future unfortunately so we are aiming for July 2017.

As always places are strictly limited and on a first come first serve basis. If you fancy being a part of the next Africa trip click the link to read the details. Use the contact form at the end of the page to let us know you are interested and you will be added to the waiting list and notified when the details are finalised before we publicly announce (this is with no obligation to book at this stage).

Ok, on with the show…

I am going all artsy on you today. As mentioned I am really trying to push my style and work outside my comfort zone and what better animal to try this with than the Cheetah?

We found our mother and cubs stalking i the long grass. The opportunities here were scarce and resulted in no kills despite her best efforts.

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Staying low, trying to spot an easy target.

After the hunting stage was over it was play time and we were free to move in closer as there was no hunt to disturb now. The light was getting flatter by the moment as often happens with late morning Cheetah observation and what better time to try out some more creative options. Here is a combination of the D800 and D7200. The 7200 is really proving itself with a great quality crop sensor that gets you closer to the action on a given lens.

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On the lookout but the area was now empty after their first attempt scattered all the Gazelles.

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Which settings you need to get a decent effect depends on each and every situation. 1/50 is a good starting point but I was going as low as 1/10 for some shots. The bright midday sun can sometimes make this very tricky as too much light enters the camera and overexposes the sensor even with the smallest aperture on the lens being set. This time I was ok as we weren’t quite at the sun’s full power yet but a neutral density filter is a good piece of kit to have in your bag if you are planning on slow shutter work during the day.

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The flexibility of the Nikon 80-400 really helps here as they were playing and quickly changing distances to us in the car. If another Cheetah entered the frame suddenly all I needed was a twist of the wrist to fit them all in.

 

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Wonderful to see young healthy cubs playing.

 

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A tricky balance to keep the head sharp and still convey the motion.

 

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One of my favourites from the sequence.

 

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As you can see black and white really lends itself to this technique as it exaggerates the form and lines. The blander light at this time of the day also washes out all colours in the scene. Generally I underexpose by a whole stop for this type of shooting as it really helps exaggerate the detail.

After a great session we made out way back to camp for lunch as we were close by. Check back in a few days for the last part of our day, for a sneak preview of one of the images head over to facebook and take a look.

Lastly, I am working up the new store for the site and I will be including a few of these in the art section. I would love to know what your favourites are? Let me know down below!

Thanks all, Richard.

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