My Jaguar curse is finally broken …

My Jaguar curse is finally broken …

The Jaguar was my “nemesis” until a few weeks back.  I had tried to glimpse them a few times in different South and Central American locations and dismally failed – I had never even seen a pug mark.  Last year I decided I will give myself the best chance ever at finally realising my dream of seeing a wild jaguar and I booked a trip to the most renowned place to see this elusive big cat – The Pantanal in Brazil.  The Pantanal lived up to its hype and we saw our first jaguar less than a mere hour after entering the famed “Jaguar Zone” for the first time – my jaguar curse was finally broken and a new love affair has flourished.  I was instantly smitten with these cats.  They are much larger and more powerfully built than leopards, especially the males – they are huge!  Their coat is mesmerising and they carry themselves with imposing confidence and charisma – even in the water.  They know they are at the very top of the food chain here and have little to fear from any other wild creature.  The lush setting of their habitat is also particularly stunning, tropical riverine systems are one of my favourite habitats to spend time in.  Seeing these large spotted cats in a “jungle” setting makes them that much more exotic and mysterious.  I use the word “jungle” loosely here as an aestethic description; technically in the Pantanal the riverine forests which jaguars prefer are actually Gallery Forests.

The photo depicts “Mick Jaguar” – a large male who is very recognisable due to its injured right eye.  He is also the jaguar featured in the recent viral video “Jaguar attacks Crocodile”.  While he is definitely not the conventional beauty contest material I found him to be very photogenic – in my eyes his “rough edges” add character, and he was more than willing to be active quite close to the boats offering me photo opportunities other than lounging about in the thick riverbank vegetation like most of the other jaguars I saw.

Tech Specs: Canon 7D Mark II | Canon EF 200-400 f4 IS USM with 1.4 Extender | f4 | 1/2000s | ISO 200

There are 4 comments

  1. Ricardo

    Dear Alison,
    Congratulations for your photos and videos, they are fantastic !!
    Please, could you let me know what equipment have you used for the videos you recorded ?
    I am a beginner with photography and I am using a canon 300mm 2,8 with teleconverters. I would like to know if you could inform me your point of view to decide the ISO and speed for the different pictures in the Brazilian Pantanal. When to use high or low speed and high or low ISO for different situations ?
    Thank you very much.
    Kind regards,
    Ricardo Leser / Brazil

    • Alison

      Hello Ricardo,

      Glad you like our photos and videos! For video we use a Canon 70D and 100-400L II lens. For still photos we use either a Canon 7D II or a 5D Mark III along with a Canon 200-400L. For the Pantanal decisions on the camera settings depend on whether we are on a boat or not. The boats move around a lot due to currents and waves caused by other boats so it is important to use a fast shutter speed so that the photos are not blurred. Most of the time this results in having to use a high ISO. If a photo is taken on a tripod on the ground then it depends on whether the animal is moving or not – if the animal is moving then the same principle applies. If the animal is still then the shutter speed can be slower, resulting in a lower ISO. The key is to still always try keep ISO to a minimum by choosing the right shutter speed depending on the situation. I would say from a boat the shutter speed needs to be at least 1/1000s.

      I hope this helped – it’s not an easy concept to explain in writing. Lots of practice and trying different settings is the key and analysing the resulting photos to see what could have been done better.


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