Vicki Santello

Camera: Canon R5

Lens: EF 600mm f/4 III

Aperture: f/11

Shutter speed: 1/500

ISO: ISO 500

Description: A young leopard cub takes in a view of the world just outside the safety of the den.

Story from behind the lens: A very young leopard cub, still blue-eyed, ventured out of the safety of the den located in the base of a gnarly tree. It was an act of courage and ignorance for him to do so as tiny as he was. He made himself vulnerable by leaving the deep hole where he was invisible to climb down perhaps 30 cm to ground level. I was devoted 3 days of my safari for the possibility that he might reveal himself fully. While I saw him several times in those 3 days, he only left the actual den a few times. When he usually clambered on the tree at the same level as the den. However, this one time, he came down to ground level giving me a precious opportunity to create a unique environmental image. I was in my doors-off safari vehicle, with my long lens mounted on a tripod with legs flat for a low angle. I was able to use foliage between me and the cub as a foreground blur and frame his sweet face in the roots of the tree. The grass on the left side of the image provides a sense of scale.