Will Burrard-Lucas a wildlife photographer, has posted a series of images depicting an ultra-rare wild black panther beneath a starry night sky. It took him 6 months to successfully capture the images.
Since spotting a black panther the common name for the African black leopard in Kenya a few years ago Burrard-Lucas first successfully captured a black panther on tape. Given how rare it is to come across one of these unique leopards, there aren’t many photographs of them. Burrard-Lucas has since returned to the region to take more once-in-a-lifetime images of the mysterious cats this time under the stars after discovering where he could spot one.
Burrard-Lucas writes “Photos combining animals with stars are quite challenging to achieve,” “It took six weeks to get a handful of images of hyena and lions under the stars in Zambia — and those animals were easy to find. It took a full month to get a single star photograph of a black rhino in a sanctuary full of rhinos”
“If it took that much effort to get photos with those animals could I ever hope to achieve it with the rarest and most elusive creature I’ve ever encountered? An animal that embodies the night more than any other I can think of… A photo of a black leopard under the stars would be both the rarest and most difficult wildlife photo I had attempted to date. My ambition was clear but my chances of achieving my dream photograph were far from certain…”
Burrard-Lucas went out into the fields with the aid of locals and set up some Camtraptions camera traps that he made. He had 5 to 7 traps set up at any given time with the majority of them set up to catch the star shot.
To catch the stars the cameras were designed to fire exposures lasting at least 15 seconds with flashes shooting at the start of the exposure to highlight the panther and freeze it in place.
A few weeks later, one of his traps successfully caught a panther star shot Instead of the Black Panther, it was a regular spotted leopard.
For the picture to come out well the circumstances had to be perfectly fine. If the backdrop is lit by ambient moonlight the cat appears semi-transparent in the resulting long-exposure photo:
Weeks went followed by months, Burrard-Lucas’ perseverance paid off after 6 months of preparing, setting up, waiting, and dreaming. He found a group of three cameras set up on a rock and retrieved them. This image was discovered to have been shot by the behind-the-scenes camera:
He then went over to the main cameras which had taken the following two shots:
Soon after another of his cameras caught a star shot of a black leopard prowling under the starry skies.
Burrard-Lucas’ pictures of this cat have been featured in a recent book called The Black Leopard.