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.