We all get those really cool warm fuzzy feelings when something exceptional happens. On a recent visit to Zimanga Private Game Reserve , when I heard the words “its a leopard” , my whole being had a chill and then goosebumps started to engulf me. Then I saw her face appear from the left side and my heart skipped a few beats and breathing was non existent.



Canon 7D MK II | 100-400 MK II lens | hand held |1/1000 | F6.3 | ISO 1600 | 283mm FL | AI SERVO Case 1

I was sharing a hide session with three Conservation volunteers , Ema , Sammy and Tala at the Mkhombe hide . They had spent a large amount of time on the reserve tracking and working on a conservation effort and this was a just reward for all the effort.  Even though this is not the first time that the young leopard cubs have visited the drinking edge of the hide , it was just a spectacular moment for me to share and witness.

It took a few seconds for us to all fall silent in the hide and then feeling relaxed with no noise around , Umhlaba leaned in and started to lap up the water. We decided to give her a few moments to feel completely relaxed before we started tripping the shutters slowly at first , but then with some pace and enjoyment.



Canon 7D MK II | 100-400 MK II lens | hand held |1/500 | F8 | ISO 1600 | 200mm FL | AI SERVO Case 1

The combination of the new Canon 7 D MK II and 100-400 MK II lens was incredible. The focus system excelled through the specialised glass on the hide window and did not falter. The awesome zoom range allowed me to shoot a number of varying portraits and landscape images with ease. The highlight was to see the super IQ and BOKEH the lens offered even at F8 in the image above.



Canon 7D MK II | 100-400 MK II lens | hand held |1/1600 | F 6.3 | ISO 1600 | 340 mm FL | Single Shot Case 1

Without knowing how much time I would have , I offered the girls some advice on settings and composition while i grabbed for the other set of gear I had with me for the session , a Canon 1DX and 400 F 2.8 MK II. As I had the 1.4 Extender attached , thought getting in really close and tight would offer a somewhat unique point of view of this amazing cat at a very low angle. This portrait image below is one i will really cherish as it show the depth of the eyes and relaxed moment we shared.



Canon 1DX | 400 F2.8 MK II lens + 1.4 Conv | Tripod |1/2000 | F7.1 | ISO 1600 | 560mm FL | Single shot focus

I must be honest , I had had many moments of thought that one day experiencing this moment at Zimanga and had many compositions and idea’s in my head. The zoom lens made a huge difference in letting e experiment and try capture what I had envisioned so many times. The main focus was  on getting sharp and crisp images that the Canon DSLR and Lens combinations ensured happened. The Depth of field also was important that I could get enough of the subject in focus so I chose F 6.3 to F 8 for most of the images. All post processing done in the latest version of DPP 4.2 and exported for web with Lightroom 5.7

The sighting lasted a mere 4 minutes and 20 seconds but felt like an eternity of raw emotion and exhilaration . I must thanks Charl Senekal , who has brought his unique visions and ideas to reality and has made it available to the general public through the various workshops and expeditions being held on the the reserve. Thanks to Canon South Africa and Cameratek for the awesome CPS back up service and use of the new equipment on all of my Creating Nature Photography Workshops at Zimanga

If you want to share in the adventure and join me on the reserve some time this year , drop me an email or facebook message and I will gladly put together a custom series of activities for you.


Peace and Light Always – Andrew