Big Cat Chase Photographer Denny Behn « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Big Cat Chase Photographer Denny Behn


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This image of a hunting Cheetah was created with a Wimberley V-2 head atop a Todd-Pod-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 3200. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode.

Image courtesy of and copyright 2013: Dennis Behn

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This is a second frame from the cheetah hunt series; it was created 7 seconds before the image above. Gear and exposure were all the same.

Image courtesy of and copyright 2013: Dennis Behn

Denny Behn

Denny Behn and his lovely wife Connie joined Todd and me for last summer’s Tanzania photo-safari-both sweet as sugar. Connie made some point and shoot images, shot some video, and otherwise simply enjoyed Africa. And Denny was eager to learn to make better images; I have never seen anyone improve so much in the space of two weeks. Denny showed what’s possible if you stay close, ask a ton of questions, and take advantage of the informal computer sessions that are offered every day. Thanks a stack to Denny for sharing his safari story with us in today’s blog post.


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This image of a Leopard with its Thomson’s Gazelle prey was created with the Wimberley V-2 head atop a Todd-Pod-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 3200. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/320 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode.

Image courtesy of and copyright 2013: Dennis Behn

This image should look familiar to regular readers. When we find something great on safari we strive to get all of our vehicles in position to make great images. That’s just what we did here. Then Denny did his job by applying what he had learned in only a few days. And he created a superb image.

My Safari Experience, by Denny Behn

Our trip to Tanzania this year with Artie and Todd Gustafson was amazing to say the least! Organization of the trip was perfect; hotels, travel, everything went off without a hitch. And our safari vehicles were the best setup I have ever seen for photography. This trip was first class in every way. And as for game sightings we could not have asked for more. I had hoped above all hope to see a cheetah or a lion hunt, and we saw both. And perhaps we might see a wildebeest crossing, and we saw many, or a leopard in a tree with a kill, saw that… it was unbelievable!


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This tight image of Wildebeests crossing the Mara River was created with the Wimberley V-2 head atop a Todd-Pod-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 3200. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode.

Image courtesy of and copyright 2013: Dennis Behn

You go on a trip like this to get photos you cannot get in any other way. But for me, the constant instruction was invaluable. There was no question asked that did not get thorough attention until one worked it out. Instruction was hands on, but even more than that there was much to be learned by simply watching two pros at work. It doesn’t get any better than that.


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Here, Denny got a great image of a lioness chasing a large snack. With flamingos in the background. This image was created with the Wimberley V-2 head atop a Todd-Pod-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 800. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/5000 sec. at f/7.1 in Manual mode.

Image courtesy of and copyright 2013: Dennis Behn

I learned a lot about light and composition, and how to look for a photo and actually get the shot. Artie and Todd usually had several good photos taken before I could get around to it. I teased Todd that he was the only photographer I know of with a โ€œzoomโ€ 600mm f4, as he was able to change teleconverters faster than anything I have ever seen! I also learned to look for a photograph and not just shoot pictures.


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These Spotted Hyenas with the head of a lion-killed Wildebeest were photographed with a Wimberley V-2 head atop a Todd-Pod-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon 1.4x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 800. Evaluative metering =2/3 stop: 1/4000 sec. at f/5.6 in Av Manual mode.

Image courtesy of and copyright 2013: Dennis Behn

In the evenings, Artie sat by his computer and showed many of his shots from the day, what he planned to keep and what he would throw away, and why. He also showed us how to optimize a photo of our own and that was an incredible learning experience as well. Artie is a Photoshop wizard and after seeing his own personal optimized shots it was easy to see why he is the best at what he does.! I am forever grateful for the trip of a lifetime.


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This Common Shrike image was created with a Wimberley V-2 head atop a Todd-Pod-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon 2x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 1600. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/400 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode.

Image courtesy of and copyright 2013: Dennis Behn

Denny and the Shrikes

On the first few days of the safari, Denny was obsessed with the shrikes. If he saw a shrike anywhere, he would shout “Stop” to the driver guide. We patiently explained to him that by stopping for distant birds sitting on ugly perches that he was likely missing out on excellent opportunities. I worked with him every day at the computer (while many others grabbed much needed rest). I showed him what a pleasing perch looks like. I explained the benefits of using the 2X III TC with his 600 II when photographing relatively small birds. The image above, a lovely bird, sharp, on a beautiful perch, with a distant sweet background, is the culmination of the time we spent together at my laptop.

Big Cat Chase Photographer

Consider the following: after 8 safaris, I have created exactly zero big cat chase images. Did Denny have good safari luck? Absolutely. But more importantly, he used his newly learned skills to create several great images that leave me a bit envious. But very proud.

2014 Tanzania Summer Safari

This morning I learned of our first sign-up, multiple IPT veteran and all around good guy Jean-Luc Vailant who wrote: Count me in. I’ll mail the check this week. Jluc That is great news. Since we were prepared to go with only a single registrant I can purchase my flights this week! (Note: you can see some of Jean-Luc’s very fine images from the 2013 Galapagos Photo-Cruise in An Eye for Design here.)

If you are interested in joining us in Tanzania next summer please shoot me an e-mail and I will be glad to forward you the PDF with dates, itinerary, and price.

Bosque IPTs/Late Registration Discounts Increased

It’s Getting Late!

Register now; apply a $1000 discount to the 7-DAY IPT!

For information on both the 7-Day and the recently announced short version of the 2013 Bosque IPTs please scroll down here. If you would like to join us for the first 3 or 4 days of this IPT please shoot me an e-mail. Please call Jim at 863-692-0906 or e-mail for late registration discount info.

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BIRDS AS ART 2nd International Bird Photography Competition

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11 comments to Big Cat Chase Photographer Denny Behn

  • Gorgeous images – my faves are the shrike (I understand his fascination with them) and the hyenas (Laughing or Spotted!).

  • avatar Eric Thomson

    Wonderful shots. Such a great venue. There is no p in Thomson’s Gazelle either ๐Ÿ™‚

  • avatar Alan Lillich

    The wildebeest crossing is my favorite – the wild eye of the straight-horned wildebeest tells the story. In the lion chase and somewhat in the leopard chases the subjects are spread out and fast moving. How the heck does one get and keep focus? (Yeah, the same way one gets to Carnegie Hall, but seriously …)

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Alan. There’s no beast in Wildebeest :). As for the AF, I have no clue. Either a side sensor (which side) or 61-point with the 5D III or 1D X might do fine….

  • avatar David Roby

    Some wonderful shots! The wildebeest in the Mara River is sensational and I love everything about the shrike image. The leopard with its kill in the tree is a great capture, marred only by the rather obvious chromatic aberration in the ‘north-east’ corner and rectilinear pattern in the sky area between the leopard and that branch stump. It is, however, very easy to be critical! I wish I had the skill (and the hardware) to produce anything approaching this quality of photograph.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for stopping by. All that you mentioned are easy fixes from the converted TIFF. Denny is a relative Photoshop beginner. All in all, he did just great. artie

  • avatar David Steele

    For the record, that leopard kill is not an impala . . . but is still a great image. I’m not an expert on East African gazelles but would guess it’s either a Tommy or a Grant’s gazelle.

  • Wonderful write by Dennis, along with the images.

    Don’t know if this was the intention or not, but the images that were selected for this blog displayed what a versatile lens the 600 (or any lens for that matter) can be. Great examples of verticals, horizontals (almost panoramic) using not only the 600, but the 1.4x and 2x.

    Doug

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Doug,

      Agree on wonderful. Nothing intentional. Denny sent me a dozen images and I picked my six favorites. But yes, the 600 with either TC is a very versatile package; that’s the main reason that I sold my 800. ๐Ÿ™‚