Jul 192013

On my last trip to Zambia, I got to walk with lions and cheetahs. Then, they showed us how they run the cheetahs. A bit of meat is tied at the end of a rope and a winch drags it round a circuit at high speed. The cat takes off after it at amazing speeds, culminating in a cloud of dirt as it comes to a sudden stop and receives its treat.

Even though I knew exactly where and when these cheetahs were going to be running past, it was still pretty difficult catching a photo of them. I like this one a lot, mainly because of the explosions of dirt flying up where the cheetah has pushed off.

Cheetah running with dirt flying up behind in Zambia

Apr 302012

Operation Horseshoe Bay: Day 3

My original plan to head down to Horseshoe Bay for a week didn’t really pan out due to a couple of alarm clock errors. I went down this morning and got exactly the conditions I was hoping for. I shot the photo I’d been picturing based on the Photographer’s Ephemeris and went about taking some more creative images. I now have so many shots from the 40 minutes I spent down at the beach that I don’t know where to start.

Cute Cheetah

In the meantime I’ve decided to upload this cute cheetah today. I’ve been reluctant to upload it as I’m not sure how good a photo it is. The composition isn’t particularly interesting. It certainly doesn’t measure up to the other cheetah cub photo I uploaded here. But, in the end I decided that this cheetah is so cute and has such amazing eyes that I had to upload it. At this point in time one of the cheetahs’ handler was preparing a ball on a rope for the cheetahs to chase.

Cute baby cheetah with intense brown eyes taken at Cheetah Outreach in South Africa.

Jan 302012

I’ve uploaded photos from our day of wine tasting around Stellenbosch before. This photo is from the same day. Before heading to our first tasting, we stopped off at Cheetah Outreach on the Spier estate. Quoting their website, they are “an education and community-based programme created to raise awareness of the plight of the cheetah and to campaign for its survival.  Founder Annie Beckhelling launched the project in January 1997 with just one hectare of land provided by Spier Wine Estate and two cheetahs.”

We arrived just as they opened and were the first group of people through the gates. We were split into two groups for our  encounters. My first stop was with the two adolescent cheetahs below. They had a lot of energy. The handlers were keeping them entertained with balls on the end of ropes. They’d swing the balls around them, and the two cheetahs would chase them around and around. During the brief moments they’d calm down, we were able to pet them and listen to them purr. Following this, we set out to go in the enclosure of an adult cheetah. This proved difficult – like the young ones they all had a lot of energy too and were pacing their enclosures. We couldn’t go into the enclosures when they were in this mood so we had to wait. We kept getting ushered from one enclosure to the other as word was received that this cheetah and that cheetah was lying down. But, they’d always hop up again by the time we got there.

Then, finally one stayed calm long enough for us to enter. It’s a weird feeling petting a full-grown cheetah. It purred as well and you could feel it rumbling through it’s whole body.

For this shot I set my shutter speed good and fast and took a ton of photos. All the time I concentrated to keep the cheetah’s eyes in focus. I then created an HDR image from a single raw by adjusting the exposure levels and then combining the resulting three images in Photomatix.

Two adolescent cheetahs with intense staring eyes at Cheetah Outreach in South Africa.