I was on a photo safari in South Africa, when we spotted the remains of an impala up in a tree. Leopards are the only big cats that are capable of carrying that much weight into a tree. They do it to prevent losing their prey to scavengers. The leopard was gone, but we knew it would be back to finish it, so we returned the next morning before dawn. The Leopard was already in the tree eating. After a while, it came down and we trailed it for a while, before it entered an area filled with thorn trees and bushes, with thorns as long as 7 inches, before settling down at a spot where it seemed comfortable. The driver proceeded towards it, driving over trees and bushes. At times we had to dive down below the seat to avoid sweeping, barbed branches. Once we were as close as practical, we stopped, and it was time to take pictures. The sun was just coming over a rise, striking an area of the thicket yards away from the Leopard, but I guessed its movement would cause it to pass over the Leopard, if we waited where we were. I convinced the other passengers it was worth the try. They agreed to wait, and 30 minutes later the sunbeams began to hit the Leopard directly on the face and arm while the rest remained in shadow. I got the shot I had hoped for.
Photographer Geoff Hansen is currently exhibiting in Petaluma’s Virtual Art in the Park . This online exhibition extends through the month of August and includes several new images, including “Rusty Relic”, shown below. This print is available in Art Gallery Napa Valley in a couple of different sizes.