How I Got The Shot: Play Time

Mana Pools National Park is a hot, dry dusty place in November. The animals appeared listless in the relentless heat. Not so the Wild Dogs, aka “Painted Wolves”. A large pack had settled in the flood plain and needed to eat every day.

After a slow start my wife Carol, Chris Collyer and I made our way out from the lodge where we were staying into what was to become another blistering day. At the T-junction we paused a for a moment to decide which direction to take -  turning right we drove not more than 200 metres when we saw the Wild Dog pack on a kill.

They had brought down an Impala Ram and were furiously devouring it. This particular pack is radio tracked and the National Parks Game Ranger who followed them was sitting on a fallen tree not thirty metres from the feeding animals. Catching his attention I asked by sign language if we could join him. He waved us over, allowing Chris and I to be in a perfect photographic position.

We were at the same level, or just below the dogs with “soft” morning light streaming from the left onto the non-plussed hunters.  I had my Canon 7d MkII with a 70—200mm lens with me. I set the shutter speed to 1/2500, took a few test shots to see that the auto light balance was adequate to catch the action as I didn’t want to miss anything and set the camera on continuous focus and  rapid fire ten frames per second.

We knew the best shot would be the dogs playing or fighting rather than just crouched over the carcass. Each time the pack broke up with dogs rushing playfully around I held the shutter release down and followed what I thought was the most active subject. Some of this is luck - maybe after over 2,500 frames in an hour and a half this one image was the winning capture!

Painted Dogs


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