A leopard (Panthera pardus) feeds off a dead impala it has dragged up a tree to keep it safe from other predators such as cheetahs, lions and hyenas. Hunting mostly at night, they are the only big cats that will jump from trees to attack prey, but they can also run at speeds up to 60km per hour.
Botswana – Photo Tip

Prepare your camera settings in advance, then trust your instinct

Photo by Jeremie Noel

Botswana – Photo Tip Prepare your camera settings in advance, then trust your instinct

I took these leopard shots on the very last game drive of a seven-day safari trip in Botswana. We had been tracking leopards for three days in the Savuti River region of Chobe National Park.

Jérémie Noël
Jérémie Noël

Hunting mostly at night, leopards  (Panthera pardus) are the only big cats that will jump from trees to attack prey, but they can also run at speeds up to 60km per hour. Hard to spot, in other words. We had already seen a couple of them, including the female leopard who had killed the impala you can see, but they were lying in tall grass and I could not get a nice action shot.

To shoot a scene like this, you have to prepare all the settings of your camera in advance: test the light, use a high shutter speed and don’t hesitate to increase the ISO. Usually you have only a few seconds between the moment you spot the animal and the end of your shooting window. You have to take advantage of this time to concentrate on your framing and focus. Even then, trust your photographic instinct.

I am very fond of finding natural lines and perspective in my photographs. Here, I did not have time to think about it but I instinctively framed the tree to have a diagonal line around the leopard. When shooting wildlife, we tend to think that the tighter shot we get, the better, but the most powerful images are often shot from a wider perspective.

trvl-botswana-jn-hd-3

A leopard (Panthera pardus) feeds off a dead impala it has dragged up a tree to keep it safe from other predators such as cheetahs, lions and hyenas. Hunting mostly at night, they are the only big cats that will jump from trees to attack prey, but they can also run at speeds up to 60km per hour. Photo by Jérémie Noël

Jérémie Noël

Jérémie Noël

Nikon D800

Aperture
ƒ/9
Exposure
1/320
ISO
800
Focal
300 mm

A leopard (Panthera pardus) feeds off a dead impala it has dragged up a tree to keep it safe from other predators such as cheetahs, lions and hyenas. Hunting mostly at night, they are the only big cats that will jump from trees to attack prey, but they can also run at speeds up to 60km per hour.

Other stories about Botswana