Vicki Santello

Camera: Canon EOS R5

Lens: RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1

Aperture: f/6.3

Shutter speed: 1/800

ISO: 3200

Description: The legendary leopard, Lorian, snarls as she comes out of the bushes into the morning light.

Story from behind the lens: Lorian has always been one of my favorite leopards in the Mara so when Sammy told me, at the start of our safari day, that he had an idea where we might find her I was in full agreement to take our chances. When we arrived, we found her nestled deep inside of impenetrable bushes. Only the outline of her body was visible and there was no photographic opportunity. Our only option was to wait and see if she would emerge. Sammy positioned the vehicle for the best light angle and we waited. And waited. And waited some more. From our position we could only judge where Lorian was by movement in the bushes so when the branches started to rustle my heart rate picked up. I was ready on the jeep floor, doors off, positioned at a low angle with my hand held camera when Lorian emerged into the light. The sunlight made her eyes glow and the expression on her face was a snarl that added drama to the moment.. I had just a few seconds to capture her walking before she passed by the optimal light angle. When I returned home, a month later, I learned that Lorian died which made this image even more special to me.