Study Group 2

Andy S. Hayes, ARPS, AFIAP

Click image to enlarge

Upload Image and Description

The Chase

Goal: Sat with a small pride of Lions on the edge of the river waiting for something to happen. Hoping for the lioness to hunt game coming down to drink. She spotted two warthog at a pool at the edge of the river and started her approach. The two warthog were about 150 mtrs away. She worked her way towards them slowly and one moved away from the river toward the bank. Up she spring and chased the warthog but it was too agile and outpaced her. She turned to look at the other warthog, who hadn't reacted to the commotion, and started to stalk it. The second warthog raised its head to see the lioness heading towards it and the warthog took off towards the bank. The lioness cut off its retreat and the warthog turned in the dry sand and headed towards the river. The lioness turned and the sand flew up, the lioness emerged from the sand with her eyes fixed on the warthog. The chase continued over the wet sand across a pool and back up the river bank. The end was inevitable and the pride ate that afternoon.
Equipment / Source:   1DX MkII
200 - 400 f/4 1.4X

Technique:   Sat in vehicle and waited for something to happen. Positioned myself next to the pride to ensure that I was in the best position whichever way the action started. 

  Quite heavy crop due to eventual distance. I like the long crop as it helps add to the tension. This is one of a sequence of 32 images taken during the stalking and chase. Due to animal and sand colours it was difficult to separate the animals from the background.

Comments/Scores (N, T, P, E, Total)

    Critique Image (only members of Study Group Two may critique this image)

Upload Image and Description

Title:   Leopard and Kill

Goal:   Went back to Kenya to track down Leopard. Didn't see any on last years trip. Saw one early morning but only a glimpse in poor light. This Leopard was seen before lunch but took shelter in a thick low bush. We left it until early afternoon and went back to wait for it emerged. The devil slipped out from right under our noses. We headed down towards the river and hunted along the river bank. Just when we were about to turn and try another area the Leopard came out in front of us with a monitor lizard in its mouth. The leopard climbed up onto a fallen tree and played with the lizard. It shook its head as it tried to eat it be didn't like the taste. eventually got up, climbed down and disappeared into the thick vegetation. The Leopard had been with us for about an hour and no one else even knew it was there.

Equipment / Source:    1DXMkII, 200 - 400 with 1.4x, ISO 1000
f/6.3, 1/400, 200mm

Technique:   Worked from open vehicle. Lens supported on bean bag. Moved to different vantage points to try different angles.

Processing:   Darkened some of the background highlights  

Comments/Scores (N, T, P, E, Total)

Critique Image (only members of Study Group Two may critique this image)

Review by Les L.
Wow, wish I would have gotten an opportunity like this when I was in Kenya. You did an excellent job; tack sharp, good color with good exposure. If I have one suggestion it is to give the leopard a little more room with some recognition to thee rule of thirds.
N-3, T-2, P-3, E-1, Total-9
Review by Bogdan B.
Image is very clear with good exposition. A little bit distracting are flowers and branches behind. The body of the lizard is hardly seen on the skin of leopard.
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-8
Review by Maria K.
Strong story and very nice shoot.
Dof is correct, good work on background. I would suggest darkening a bit few light grasses.
I like the pose and overall composition.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9
Review by Dennis H.
Good nature story with leopard and kill.
Image sharp with good colour and detail on leopard. Distracting highlights behind leopard's head.
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, total-8
Review by Bruce F
A superb nature story. It’s interesting to see a Leopard with a monitor lizard in its mouth. It visually shows that Leopards are opportunistic hunters and will take what’s available even if the prey isn’t what they commonly eat.
What can be done to improve the image? Now I am nitpicking, yet while on safari it’s important for the driver and guide to get the vehicle in the best photography position. It would have been nice to frame the image without any sky in the photograph. I know you darken the blue spots, and that’s a good overall improvement. But moving the vehicle to the right, you could have possibly change the angle of view, to include the tree trunk and possibly more green bushes totally and completely eliminating the light blue sky peeking through the top left side of the image. Also, from this changed right angle position you could have got a better view of both eyes. Some prefer two eyes rather than one, a more powerful contact and connection with the subject. This opinion this is very subjective, however. Also, the moving to the right should take out that branch on the top right corner, that’s also a distraction.
I do like the moment and diagonal line created by the Leopard’s body. I think cropping off the tail isn’t a problem since most of it is covered by the green vegetation. It leads to the Leopard’s head and the monitor lizard dangling from its mouth.
I know these moments are very fleeting most of the time, and you did the best you could, after all, it’s a wild animal situation. Yet, to take your nature photography up to the art level these are some suggestions towards what it takes to get there. 
N-3, t-3, P-3, E-0, total-9
Review by commentator Dan C.

This is another very strong nature story.  The monitor lizard adds a different view on the behavior of these great cats.  Clues in the build of the leopard indicate it is a youngster just recently out on its own.  That helps explain the choice of prey; it does not yet have enough experience to successfully go after mammals so settles for what it can catch. 

The point for exceptional is a reward for an unusual but successful story.

N3, T3, P3, E1, Total 10

Review by commentator Rick C.
You captured an excellent nature story. You may also want to try the Topaz In Focus trick I mentioned on Bruce’s image. I think you may find it does add a little help. We’re always stressing get close or crop in, but here I think you could actually loosen up a bit on the framing without losing anything in impact and at the same time making your star feel a little less cramped in the frame. The adjusted image shows what In Focus was able to do on the estimation with the opacity of that layer scaled back to 50% and the effect masked out or toned down on the fore quarters of the Leopard and the Monitor.



I was born in Prestwick, Scotland. I travelled to many parts of the world with my father who was in the Royal Air Force. Now living in Historic village of Fettercairn in Kincardineshire, Scotland with my wife Hilary and 'Smokey' the cat. Semi retired construction industry owner and business consultant. Grampian representative of the Royal Photographic Society and Vice President of Brechin Photographic Society. (Est 1888) Aviation photographer, turned Wildlife photographer.