Leopard (Panthera pardus) lying in warm afternoon light, Sabi Sand Game ReserveThis image of a handsome leopard (Panthera pardus) posing beautifully on a small hillock has been cropped slightly; the original includes more background. When I took the photo, I recollect deliberately including some of the background shrubs and trees, even though the light was quite tricky, with shaded and sunlight areas in the frame.

But it was late in the afternoon, so the light was not too contrasty and I opted for the wider view. I was using a 70-300mm lens, and this image was taken at a focal length of 115mm, so I could have zoomed in much tighter. I did take a couple of closer shots, but as luck would have it the leopard’s pose and position were less attractive, with the leopard’s head lined up with the tree trunk in the background.

I like adding background detail when appropriate as this places the subject in context. Whether it works in this case I’m still not convinced. I do believe a big blow-up of the image will be impressive, particularly with the warm background colors, so typical of African bushveld winters. Taken in Sabi Sand Game Reserve with a Canon EOS 400D and Canon 70-300mm IS USM lens, shutter-speed 1/640, aperture F5.6, ISO 400, 4.27pm, July. The 70-300mm is one of more than 60 Canon EF lenses designed for use with its range of digital and film single lens reflex EOS cameras.

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