Yesterday Nic Brink gave us some fantastic insight into his photography journey. Today he walks us through how he captured these phenomenal photos of Cheetahs.

PIC – Where were these photos taken?

Nic – On the Blue Canyon Conservancy just outside the town of Hoedspruit, in the province of Limpopo, South Africa. This is an area of conservation on the foothills of the Drakensberg, South Africa’s largest, and most magnificent, mountain range. These Cheetahs were brought onto the farm, in order to further the biodiversity of the area, and to give this recovering species another area in which they could call home.

PIC – Can you tell me a little more about these specific Cheetahs?

Nic – A total of three cheetahs were brought onto the conservancy( two brothers, and one female). Before they could be released into the conservancy, they had to become acclimatised to their new home, and hence spent three months in transitional bomas. In terms of endangered species, this project sought to highlight to the Blue Canyon Conservancy Community. Many people confuse this animal with the leopard, even though they are vastly different! The cheetah is a high-speed predator that can reach speeds of up to 120km/h! Find out more about this amazing animal here.


Cheetah close up


PIC – So how did you come to take photos of them?

Nic – The manager of the conservancy invited me to watch them feed the two brothers, and asked if I wouldn’t mind taking photos which he could use for publication. I was never going to pass up an opportunity like that, and so I woke before sunrise in order to accompany him to the boma. To see Cheetahs was a rare sight in South Africa, let alone the opportunity to photograph them in such a manner!


Cheetah back upPIC – Can you talk me through the entire process of capturing these animals? 

Nic – The feeding process was carefully uld already smell the impala ‘kill’. I approached the fence cautiously, and, under instruction from the manager. The two brothers then began to approach us, with their heads bowed, and their hackles raised.

I was on one knee, with my lens being supported by the other, as I was now shaking uncontrollably in the face of these two predators. The electric fence that separated us now seemed all the more flimsy. The cheetah then started to growl, as they hit their front paws against the ground, in an attempt to scare us off.

After the immediate threat that we seemed to pose had subsided, the cheetahs approached the fence even closer, and then carried on with the their fierce growling. Their bowed heads exposing the whites of their eyes.

All the while, I had forgotten what I had come there to do- capture any photos I could of these cheetah. After the manager assured me that it was safe to do so, I let off as many shots as I could which best captured these creatures in all their glory. The next few minutes were spent behind my camera.

PIC – What equipment did you use?

Nic – The equipment was essential in this project, and I had taken the best lens I had for wildlife photography, the 100-400mm. This choice of lens, however, now seemed inappropriate, as the cheetah were less than 1.6m away, and I was struggling to focus.  Nevertheless, I managed to capture a few photos that I was immediately happy with, and the manager was too. All this lasted less than 5 minutes and it was over before I knew it.


Cheetah Growl


I was fortunate to be able to photograph the Cheetah after they had eaten, but this proved difficult, as they were simply too agitated to stay for long.

PIC – You must have learned a lot on shooting dangerous predators. Could you share some thoughts?

Nic – I learnt a valuable lesson about wildlife photography, and that is that you only have the shortest of time-frames within which to work, before the perfect shot has disappeared. You do not have time to try different framing, fiddle with the aperture, or rearrange your subject to best suit your taste. Most of the hard-work is done in finding the subject, and the rest is left to luck. That day, I got lucky, and the results were some of my favourite to date.

PIC – How can we find more of your work and follow your progress?

500px Portfolio


Cheetah Walking Cheetah closeup

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