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Cheetah Chasing Lunch

 
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  #1  
Old 12-06-2007, 10:10 PM
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Cheetah Chasing Lunch

Wildlife photography is so much like hunting big game. In both cases I just love it when a plan comes together.



Jack and I saw unbelievable quantities of game on our three photo trips to Kenya and Tanzania. Sometimes during the migration season we could see thousands of animals spread out over two or three miles ahead of us.

The big cats were our favorites. We spent many hours following them and getting to learn their hunting procedures.

One morning Jack and I came upon an adult cheetah just as it lost a race with a baby gazelle...their favorite table fare. The cheetah was sitting on its haunches, facing away from us and thinking about what to do next. Both our heads were sticking out of the top of the safari vehicle. I think it was I that noticed a different baby gazelle hunkered down in the short grass 20 yards to our left...perfectly still.

Then it was Jack that said, "Let's move the truck so we put the hiding gazelle between us and the cheetah." We both knew that eventually the cheetah would discover this tasty morsel just 50 yards behind it. The gazelle would be our bait!

We both got ready. I had two camera bodies so I set up with a 200-400 lens on one and a wide angle on the other. This cheetah was going to discover the gazelle and run right at us in its effort to catch the gazelle.

Sure enough...just 10 minutes later the cheetah stood up slowly and started walking going in the wrong direction. About this time the baby gazelle rose halfway up on its haunches. Then seeing the cheetah...it froze in that position.

After a dozen deliberate steps away from our position the cheetah paused...and turned its head in our direction. After a second it seemed to flinch...then freeze. We knew the game was on!

In a flash it bounded toward the gazelle which immediately turned and streaked toward us.

Nikon D2H
200-400VR lens
ISO 400, 1/1,000 @ F8
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Old 12-07-2007, 05:45 PM
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it is interesting that their mouths are closed and they are breathing through their noses.

Who won the race?
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Old 12-07-2007, 06:04 PM
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Great shot!
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Old 12-07-2007, 10:38 PM
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The cheetah won this one.
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Old 12-08-2007, 12:46 AM
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Wow! Heck of a photo - thanks for telling us how you got it!
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Old 12-08-2007, 12:19 PM
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The photo has such good detail that the biology is just great. Look at the eyes. Predators have forward facing eyes to focus on the prey and have good depth perception. Prey animals have sideways looking eyes to pick up movement from predators and look for escape routes. The little guy is looking for an escape route really hard and the cheetah has him locked into the radar unit.
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Old 12-15-2007, 01:31 PM
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wow, that is an amazing shot. Do you have any follow up shots? It would be interesting to see the moment when the cat caught the "mouse"?

Great post!
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