Leopard and Internet Miracles « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Leopard and Internet Miracles

This image was created on August 8th, 2013 with the Todd Pod-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 stop as framed: 1/160 sec. at f/4 in Manual mode.

Central sensor (Surround)/AI Servo Rear Focus on the Leopard’s face and re-compose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Leopard Miracle

The safari has been going fantastically well. On the morning of August 8 we left the lodge at 6am our gear loaded in five open roofed vans set up with three roof hatches. We were in search of the Leopard family. Veteran driver spotted one of the 7-month old cubs high in a tree. It was un-photographable. Next Jamesie spotted the other cub in a tree. Some folks photographed this animal though the situation was less than ideal. Then moments later Nico spotted the mother high in a tree with an Thompson’s Gazelle. We got in position and made a few bad images, tight shots with a big branch right across the animal’s chest.

After 15 minutes the big lady cat lifted her prey, climbed halfway down the tree, and posed on the perfect branch. It was something that you could not have even dreamed of…. All of the vans were skillfully positioned. We spent the next three hours and a good part of the afternoon game drive photographing the family. Though I have zillions of keeper images that show all each of the Leopards chowing down on their meal, the image above was, with momma’s regal pose, my very favorite.

Internet Miracle

On the first day of the safari Todd handed me what looked like a large thumb drive with the word airtel on it. It took me a while to figure out how to use it but now I have internet anywhere in Tanzania, even in the most remote sections of the country. It is of course slow, but it is internet. Thus, I am able to publish this blog post from Seronera Lodge in the Serengeti. Amazing.

The Exposure

In the low light I advised folks to strive to have some blinkies in the white sky to ensure a good exposure for the Leopards. That is exactly what I did here.

The Image Optimization

After adding a strip of canvas along the bottom and bringing the stub of branch in from another image in the series on its own layer, I used the Quick Selection Tool to select the subject and then my favorite NIK Color Effects Pro recipe: 50% Tonal Contrast and 50% Detail Extractor. That was reduced by about half by cutting the Opacity back to 50%. Then I selected the head, again using the Quick Selection Tool, and sharpened it with a Contrast Mask: Unsharp Mask at 15/65/0.

Complete details on all of the above may be found in Digital Basics. Digital Basics is an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. It includes my complete digital workflow, dozens of great Photoshop tips including Digital Eye Doctor techniques, several different ways of expanding canvas, all of my time-saving Keyboard Shortcuts, Quick Masking, Layer Masking and NIK Color Efex Pro basics, creating and using time-saving Actions, and tons more.

On The Road Again

Please know that I will be traveling to and from the Africa for the Tanzania Photo Safari with Todd Gustafson leaving today, August 1 and back in the office on August 21. I will have extremely limited and very slow at best internet access so please do not e-mail me until I get back. Jim will be in the office every weekday to help you with your mail order purchases and Jen will be here handling IPT registrations. The blog will continue to be active as I have prepared a dozen interesting, brand new educational posts for you in advance for you to enjoy during my absence.

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13 comments to Leopard and Internet Miracles

  • avatar Rebecca Field

    Having been to Africa on 7 photo safaris with Jamie Thom, I know what a special opportunity this was and the shot is really excellent. I’m just curious how much cleaning up you might have done around the branch the leopard is sitting on. It looks almost too clean for an African bush image. Would also love to see the original, out of curiosity.

  • avatar Mike from CT

    Hi Artie,

    Great shot; wish I was there; but, I don’t get why you added “the stub of branch”. Can we see the original, and the added canvas before you added the branch?



    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I clipped the bottom part of the stub of the branch in the lower left so I added it from another image in the series that was better framed.

  • avatar Doris

    Absolutely phenomenal!

  • Airtel is an Indian telecom company and has virtually taken over several countries in Africa. I am an Airtel user here in India, and did use it when I was last in Kenya and Tanzania last year. Cheers!

  • Have a great Safari Artie, in my mind I’m also with you. Africa is my all-time love.

  • Solo aplausos…GREAT SHOT!!!!!


  • avatar Fain Zimmerman

    If this is the Serengeti, I believe our group photographed the same family – mother and two cubs in February! The cubs were about two-three months old then. At that time, she had a bush buck high in the leaves of a sausage tree. She was there two days in a row and not a bit shy!

  • avatar David Policansky