~ Two and a half years ago @Anthony Gitau and I were in Samburu one morning. A female leopard had been spotted in a flat area of large bushes, very near the Ewaso Nyiro River.
Other vehicles had been swerving around the bushes in a fruitless search for the elusive predator, finally moving off elsewhere.
Canny Anthony's “leopard eyes” picked out a particular large mound. I saw nothing to distinguish it from other comparable rounded bushes, but Anthony was right!
The leopard was snugly concealed deep within the bush, resting on a small perch in semi-darkness.
Anthony maneuvered the vehicle such that by bringing a Zeiss 135mm lens as low as possible, images of the leopard were possible. She was no more than two meters away from the lens, but only visible through one small break in the foliage.
I was photographing her when she started to move. “She's coming out!”, I told Anthony. He immediately backed away to provide her ample maneuvering room once she emerged.
We were blessed with an extraordinary vantage point as she ambled away up onto a rocky ridge.
What great photos at close range I must have obtained...except that I didn't have anything except useless frames.
Why? What went wrong?
When the leopard emerged from the bush, I completely forgot to change the settings — I shoot in M mode thus set all parameters — so that the camera was shooting in daylight while set up for near darkness.
I wouldn't want anyone else to hear the torrent of billingsgate which spewed from my mouth as I cursed myself for missing such a great photo opportunity.
After calming down, joking with Anthony and apologizing for my outburst directed at myself, we continued, spotting the leopard 15 minutes later, obtaining superb shots.
The lesson was not only learned, it was deeply engraved into my consciousness. Since then, when ever shooting in any ultra-low light situation during daytime, I adjust the settings as soon as the shooting situation changes.
Ah, cameras out on safari. Gotta love ’em, but sometimes the clumsy, addle-pated clown behind the lens leaves much to be desired.