In addition to being stunning animals, black panthers are also quite rare. Will Burrard-Lucas was determined to capture images of this magnificent animal, and in 2019 he published his first batch. But he desired to take his project a step further. He created a series of difficult-to-capture images featuring a black panther and a starry sky, but they were well worth the effort.
Since his previous undertaking, Will had learned where he could locate an African black leopard, also known as a “black panther.” He adds in a blog post, “I was keen to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime occasion. He then made another trip to Kenya with the intention of adding more of his distinctive midnight wildlife photographs to his collection.
As you can undoubtedly guess, it might be challenging to capture both animals and stars in one image. When working with an endangered species like the black leopard, it can be very challenging. Will was determined to complete the most difficult photograph of his career, despite the difficulties.
Along with another spotty male, the lovely black leopard from Will’s earlier photographs frequently dwells on Luisa Ancilotto’s land. Will was given free rein to put up camera traps and find spots by her and her team.
“To make my life more difficult, it seemed the black leopard was now roaming further afield as he avoided a bigger male and sought out a safe territory of his own,” Will explains. Because of this, he passed by Will’s camera traps much less often than before, which decreased his chances of capturing the photo even further. On the other hand, the big spotty male was often around. He was the first Will photographed with the starry sky in the background. And while he wasn’t the leopard Will was looking for, the photo came out beautifully. “It is possibly my favourite photo of a spotty leopard to date and so I wasn’t too disappointed,” the photographer writes.
To take the photo he imagined, many factors had to come together. Will needed a clear sky, which he couldn’t always get.
Even if the sky was clear, the moonlight or twilight wouldn’t work because they would make the stars less visible. In addition, the moonlight makes the background brighter, making the big cat appear translucent at a long exposure with a flash. Still, it’s a pretty cool image!
While there were a few beautiful images, Will couldn’t didn’t get what he was hoping for. But he didn’t give up. After six months of various challenges, he checked his cameras and found these:
These photos were exactly what he was hoping for: the starry sky and the powerful black cat “posing” in front of this magical nature’s backdrop.
Take a look at some BTS photos below, as well as some failed attempts at photographing the black leopard. You can find more of Will’s work on his website, Instagram, and Twitter and order his new book Black Leopard here, with many other never-before-seen pictures of the leopard.