McKay Photography Academy’s journey to Tanzania continued!

Ndutu is known for Cheetah and on our last two trips to Tanzania, we didn’t see any in the Serengeti. Now keep in mind, with over 13 tours in Tanzania, we have seen Cheetah several times in the Serengeti. However, we really wanted to visit this area as  I mentioned in the last blog and go specifically for the Great Migration at this time of year, and the Cheetah, 

The Cheetah is my favorite cat. So I have dedicated this one, to the Cheetah! 

It is very important to note, that although I am not a gear geek, our new Canon R5 with animal eye detection and ability to track a subject, along with the new Canon 100-500mm lens, made the difference in these upcoming images. 

There is no way they would have been captured, or at least as many, with my previous Canon 5d Mk4. The camera tracking system was flawless. 

Photo Tip 

When photographing an animal like the Cheetah, the fastest animal on earth that can run at a slit second to over 80 miles per hour, you have to be READY at ALL times. You never know when action will break out. 

If a Cheetah is walking, he is usually hunting or at the very least, always ready for an opportunity that can present itself. 

The MINIMUM shutter speed for an animal like this is 1/4000th of a second. if it is plenty bright outside, I will even go to 1/8000th of a second as my camera allows for this. 

Photo Tip 
Use AUTO ISO when photographing wildlife and quick action. 

On our first day in Ndutu, our amazing guides spotted this Cheetah off in the distance. As we arrived, we noticed she had just taken the Gazelle. We were not there for the chase, but she had yet to start partaking in her lunch. 

This is a moment where you have to think about everything quickly. Shutter Speed, ISO, and Aperture. Most of the time while photographing wildlife, I use Auto ISO and simply choose my Shutter Speed and Aperture that I like while in manual mode.

The nice thing about this is that as I choose what I want, the ISO changes automatically for me to keep my exposure correctly. It really simplifies things when in a rushed exciting situation. 

In these images, I chose a bit higher aperture at f 11 just to make sure that I had plenty of Depth of Field. I still had a very fast shutter speed of 1/4000th of a second just to be ready in case other action happened. This forced my ISO up to 800. However, that is no problem for today’s modern cameras. 


Photo Tip 

When photographing wildlife always have your camera out, batteries charged, and memory card space available….you never know what can happen! 

The next day, Leonard, our dear friend, and our head guide and I discussed the plans. I said let’s spend time looking for more cheetahs! The thing about cheetah is that you have to cover an extremely large amount of area to find them sometimes, you need some luck involved, and most of all, you NEED THE BEST GUIDES! 

This day, like some others, ended up being a 12 hour day. Sun-up to Sundown but oh my what a day! 

After hours of searching, spending time with a lion pride, and then photographing the Great Migration a bit, we were on our own hunt for another cheetah. 

Our three vehicles split up and over walkie-talkies we communicated. Each vehicle going a different direction on the hunt. Over the radio, we heard DUMA! (Swahili for Cheetah!) 

We raced over and found this lone cheetah out walking and looking for an opportunity. With animals like this, you need to give them space and not allow them to feel stressed or threatened by your presence. 

After following her for about 10 minutes, we decided we should allow her to just go on her way without any fear of us bothering her. It was at that moment, her lunch appeared right in front of us! 

An African hare jumped out of a hole maybe 5 feet from us and right in front of the cheetah. It was all over in less than 5 seconds. 

Amazingly, I was focused on her eye, I had the tracking focusing on, and I had a high-speed shutter burst on. 

I sprayed and prayed! Slang for shoot as fast as you can and hope for the best! 

Photo Tip 

1/4000th of a second High-speed burst, Continuous focusing mode, with animal eye tracking on the Canon R5 really allowed me to capture this series. 

It all happened in less than 5 seconds.