Cheetah run I

The fastest land animal, Cheetah Conservation Fund near Otjiwarongo

The fastest land animal, Cheetah Conservation Fund near Otjiwarongo
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4 Comments | Report
martinfoxsmith PRO
martinfoxsmith March 24, 2018
what a great shot
Flinforth March 25, 2018
Magnificent Capture!!
sherrysloan January 07, 2019
Wow great shot!
arvindkumar_0813 March 19, 2019
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Behind The Lens

It was taken at Cheetah Conservation Fund near Otjiwarongo, Namibia. We stayed at a Lodge in the vicinity, and I wanted to visit it. One of the events on offer is what they call "Cheetah Run". It is kind of a morning workout for the cheetahs, where a cloth is moved around on a line and the cheetah's instincts take over and they chase the cloth. It is somewhat comparable to a cat playing with a ball of wool, but with a wild animal.
It was in the morning hours of New Year's Eve 2017, and my husband and I were the only visitors.
The lighting was not spectacular, as you can see from the shadows. But the "Cheetah run" is only offered for half an hour in the morning, and there are no other possibilities.
I used my Nikon D750 with a Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 telezoom. I was shooting handheld in aperture priority mode. When the cheetahs were close to our position, it was so fast I had to pan and this created a bit of motion blur.
I always wanted to get a shot of a wild animal in action. I was on several safaris but did not yet have the luck to see a free roaming cheetah in action, so when I learned about the "Cheetah Run" this was a welcome alternative. This is a unique possibility to see the fastest land animal in action, and this is where the photo was taken. It is amazing how focused the animals are, they seem to completely forget their environment. I want to highlight that they are not forced to run, it is their natural behaviour.
I use DxO as raw processor, and do also most of the post processing in this tool. I turned down the highlights and lightened up the shadows, enhanced contrast and vibrancy, and removed some sensor spots.
In my camera bag
I have 2 cameras (D750 and D7100) and a collection of lenses (24-70 f/2.8, 20mm f/1.8, 35mm f/1.4 Art, 105mm Macro, and the above mentioned telezoom), plus a Lensbaby Sweet 50, a set of extension tubes, a tripod and some filters. Of course, I don't always carry all that stuff. I only carry what I probably need.
You need a camera with fast and reliable autofocus, and use continuous shooting mode. I used f/13 in aperture priority, to have enough room for sharpness even if the autofus would occasionally be too slow. Then just press the shutter and pan with the animal, and hope for the best. This sounds like dumb luck, and sure some luck is involved, but although I have never been in a situation like that, I had a high percentage of good and sharp images from this session.

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