It isn’t really a ‘Mac Thing’ (or maybe it is!) – But the Snow Leopard is definitely my ‘favourite’ of the big cats (I also have a soft spot for the Persian Leopard); which accounts for my continual return visits to photograph them whenever possible at the Melbourne Zoo. This photograph was taken during the same shooting session as ‘Snow Leopard in Profile‘, but captures a very different moment and feeling. My only regret with both of these photographs is that this is a captive animal and not wild. But since Snow Leopards are native to a foreign country, endangered and extremely rare I hope you will forgive the captive nature of these photographs and instead enjoy them for their merit in their own right. I used the Canon 300mm F2.8L IS lens for this shot at ISO400 on the 1DSMK3. I have had a few emails from readers asking me how I photograph these animals without any ‘bars or cages’ in the shot – ‘Did I have special access?’ The answer is no – I photographed all of the animals in my Wildlife Portraits project either in the wild or from normal public Zoo access. The trick when faced with caged animals is to use a lens with a wide aperture like the Canon 300mm F2.8L IS and to put the lens as close as possible to the bars; whilst putting the animal as far away from the bars as possible. This effectively throws the bars or cage so far out of focus that they become invisible. Its a very useful technique to photograph captive animals.

Snow Leopard


  1. Posted July 2, 2010 at 8:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    BTW: ‘Invisibilate’ should definitely be a word :-)

  2. Cameron
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hi Josh,
    Would f4 be enough to invisibilate the bars? I know it’s not a real word but it should be.

    • Posted July 2, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Cameron,

      Its all relative to your lens focal length, how close you can get to the bars/cage with the front of the lens and how far away the animal is from the bars or cage. In general, if you can push the lens up close to the bars, focus on the animal with it as far away from the bars as possible then you will probably be ok with F4 (depending on your focal length – I am assuming something around 300mm as you don’t say what lens you are using). Give it a try, its easy to practice this technique at your local zoo. Thanks for reading.

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