Being ready should be the watch word for every wildlife photographer out there. Seasoned photographers (such as myself) know that at any moment anything can happen and as such a photographer will sit with camera at the ready, on standby mode while periodically changing the camera settings as the light changes.
However, Murphy is always occupying the seat next to yours and you are lulled into complacency. Whenever conditions are such that you know that any self-respecting big cat will be tucked away into the deepest thicket they can find to get away from the searing heat of a Kalahari November day, that lethargic complacency will be at its most prevalent.
And then it happens! Three subadult cheetah appear suddenly from nowhere, the light is atrociously bright, the heat waves are making a mockery of the lens stabilisation system and of course no super telephoto lens will have (or need to have) a polariser or ND filter so as to reduce the reflections being thrown at it by the glittering grains of Kalahari sand. After all, what self-respecting big cat of the Kalahari will go into full flight when the sun is already scorching the earth.
To add to the woes of the situation, the action is exploding just beyond the reach of the 500mm lens attached to the camera. The lens and camera find the harsh conditions difficult and refuse to lock onto the fast action and before you know it, it is over and all that is left on the flash card is a series of shots that help to remind one of the dramatic action, but sadly, none of them will win you any prizes.
I’m not sure that at the end of this I have any sage advice to impart because the odds were against me capturing this action in a National Park where I have to stay on the road, other than to say that the best odds are to go to a Reserve where they allow you to venture off road. And to warn all and sundry that the heat of the Kalahari in November defies description.