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davidjharper

Musiara and cub,Masai Mara, Kenya



Musiara and her one remaining cub; the cub sadly died a few weeks after the photo was taken. Olare Motorogi Conservancy, Masai Mara, Kenya....
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Musiara and her one remaining cub; the cub sadly died a few weeks after the photo was taken. Olare Motorogi Conservancy, Masai Mara, Kenya.
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15 Comments | Report
jimhelmick
 
jimhelmick February 22, 2018
Magnificent capture.
davidjharper PRO+
 
davidjharper February 22, 2018
Thanks Harold and Jim. It was truly inspiring spending time with these beautiful animals.
hwishnick
 
hwishnick June 28, 2018
What a beautiful shot of mother and young. Such a shame it died.
francescabullet Platinum
 
francescabullet October 13, 2018
fantastic moment my friend
BessieV
 
BessieV October 13, 2018
Amazing capture!
Congratulations!
Tanya333
 
Tanya333 October 14, 2018
I love this shot! So loving and tender.
Rafail_Chrys Platinum
 
Rafail_Chrys October 14, 2018
Amazing shot! Congrats!
simonparry
 
simonparry October 17, 2018
Outstanding shot..
Doodlebeary PRO
 
Doodlebeary November 28, 2018
What beautifully touching moment.
Milan_Pavlovic
 
Milan_Pavlovic February 03, 2019
beautifull kittens :)
keepclicking
 
keepclicking February 27, 2019
Beautiful
donvawter Platinum
 
donvawter October 31, 2019
Great capture. We photographed one in the Lemek Conservancy in September 2019 with six cubs. Does not appear to be same one. The last I heard (late October 2019) all six cubs are still alive.
Argatykites PRO+
 
Argatykites April 16, 2020
What a moment great capture
WhenLeeIsFree
 
WhenLeeIsFree April 17, 2020
Snuggles. What a special moment.
MaryAnne306 PRO+
 
MaryAnne306 April 12, 2021
Incredible capture. So sorry to hear the cub died.
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Behind The Lens

Location
I was "on safari" in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, Masai Mara, Kenya. I was staying at a safari camp, and a friend and I had the use of a vehicle with our own driver/guide. The advantage of this arrangement is you have a seat to yourself, so you can move easily from one side of the vehicle to the other.
Time
Typically, you are on the move just after sun-up. I think the photo was taken mid-morning.
Lighting
Frankly, you don't have much choice lighting. I liked the side-lighting as the shadow, for me, emphasised the protection provide by the mother for the cub. However, the light was quite strong, and consequently the whites can be easily over-exposed (blown highlights). It is important to reduce the exposure by a 1/2-1 stop to avoid blown highlights. Even so, the whites are still a little blown on this photo.
Equipment
It was shot on a Canon 5D IV with a prime 500mm lens. I stopped the lens down (F5) to maximize background blur. I used a very fast shutter speed (1/2500) in order to freeze any movement, and on safari, I almost always shoot high speed multiple shots. That way you are more likely to catch those "magical moments".
Inspiration
Leopards are beautiful animals to photograph, and so one always stops to photograph them. Of course a mother and cub(s) is very special. Sadly, the cub was killed a few weeks later.
Editing
I tightly cropped the photo to focus attention on the mother-cub interaction. I had to adjust highlights and shadows to (a) minimize blown highlights, and (b) bring out detail in shadows. I did some sharpening of the image. I spent some time on the eyes (as they were in shadow) and brightened them with a brush. I don't typically removed grass stalks and the like, and prefer to try an shoot clean photos.
In my camera bag
On safari, I typically pack my main Canon bodies: 5D4 and 7D2, for two reasons: in case one goes unserviceable, and because I like the flexibility of two bodies with different lens. I set up with 500mm on the 5D, and 100-400mm on the 7D, but honestly I vary this (almost on a whim, sometimes). I usually take a wide-ish angle 18-40mm and/or a 24-105mm. And, lots of batteries and cards. I am trying to take enough cards for a 7-day trip - which is a lot - as you can easily shoot 1500-2000 photos a day. At the end of the day, you don't want to be faffing about copying cards to a computer, especially when "sundowners" (drinks) beckon. And, you need a good cleaning kit.
Feedback
The key to good safari photography is being familiar with your gear. Make sure you gets lots of practice beforehand, and preferably with similar subjects, at the zoo (say). It is always best to get as low as possible in the vehicle, so you are on the same level as the animals. I shoot aperture priority (normally) so I can easily adjust aperture (duh!), and automatic ISO (but sometimes adjust ISO manually in low light situations). It is vital to use high shutter speeds (faster than 1/1000th) and landscape photographers often make the mistake of using too low a shutter speed. You want to freeze those special moments. Unless, of course, you want to slow it down, and slow pan moving animals. And, as the day brightens, don't forget to reduce the ISO. Lastly, take lots of photos, but, at the same time, occasionally put the camera down and simply enjoy the experience of being there with these truly wonderful animals in this truly magical place.

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