Lens: nikkor 70-210 f4-5.6d
Description: Luluka the leopardess waltzing down from a tree with elegance after breakfast. A baby eland is in the top left of the tree. Shot wide to show the environment and importance of a single tree.
Story from behind the lens: The photo is of the wonderful leopardess Luluka waltzing down the side of a tree in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. This photo is special to me as it was one I tried specifically to make happen and going wide on a leopard takes commitment because everyone wants to use their long, fancy lens. To me this is the Holy Grail as it depicts an environment that showcases the importance of a single tree on the arid landscape. As an arborist by trade, trees have been my life since opening my own business in 1998. You can see the importance of this lonely tree on the savannah. Without it, there would be no chance of survival for Luluka. She needs the protection that it offers. So do we.
She had dragged a baby eland up the tree and was eating when we came across her. It is visible in the upper left hanging. I called it "The Red Carpet" because there was a blood smear going up the tree, but mostly because on the way down, Luluka showed the elegance and grace of any iconic movie star walking the red carpet. She is a beloved animal in the area and a well photographed movie star in her own rights. I predicted her movements and she behaved like a veteran because we only had one take. Yes, I was nervous and so terrified to look at the images afterwards. It was my 22nd and final morning in Kenya and we were on our way to the airport!