Leopard Silhouette

leopard-sil2It is the end of winter and one can certainly feel the change. The mornings are no longer too cold and the days are dry and very hot at times. Yesterday it was already 38 degrees, but luckily today was overcast and cool. I had really been hoping to get out and take some photos, but with the cloud cover I felt I was probably going to waste my time.

Anyway, I had not been out on safari for a long time and thought I may as well take my daughter for a game drive. My rule in the bush is that I never leave home without my camera bag.

Not 10 minutes after leaving home I came around the corner and bumped straight into a huge male leopard.

The light was bad but he was sitting up on a termite mound in a perfect position. Oh how I wished the light was better!

I looked at the scene and wondered what I could make of it.


I took out my 70-200mm 2.8 lens – a really fast lens, perfect for low light – and I took a few frames. I had two choices; to either totally silhouette the leopard, using the bushes to frame him; or to try and expose for the leopard.

The problem with this was that the sky would be badly over exposed. So I decided to set up the camera with my flash on.

I faced the flash head straight up and only pulled up the little white card that comes with the flash.

My idea was to just bounce a little filler light onto the leopard, but keep the correct exposure of the sky so that I would still maintain the dramatic mood of the clouds. I still stepped the camera down by a further 1/3.

So my settings were; f2.8, with my ISO at 1250 and the speed at 1/1250. Everything was done on manual.

I took a few photos, then turned the flash off and took another few without the flash using the same settings. This created a lovely silhouette. You decide which you prefer.

Happy snapping

Rod Wyndham

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