Last Frame: Gotcha! – Outdoor Photographer

In Photography

Photographing playful cheetahs in Tanzania

Last Frame: Gotcha!
Photo By Russ Burden

“Every April, I run back-to-back safaris to Tanzania,” explains Russ Burden. “One of my favorite locations is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area near Lake Masek. The environmental diversity attracts wildlife of all species.

“This mother cheetah had four 1-month-old cubs who were frolicking and playing, the way young cats do. They tumbled, ran, roughhoused, mingled and basically displayed nonstop action. Late light sun broke through an evening cloud, so I focused my attention on the momma, as the light on her was exquisite.

“Out of the corner of my left eye—I always keep both eyes open when I look through the viewfinder—I noticed movement, so I zoomed to a wider setting, and the next thing I knew, two cubs were making a beeline toward momma. Each jumped at separate times, and I was lucky to catch the first in midair just as it reached the mother cheetah. It was a moment I’ll cherish forever. We stayed with the family for the entire evening session, but when the light broke and the cubs got active, it made the three hours worth every minute.”

Nikon D500, AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR at 400mm. Exposure: 1/1600 sec., ƒ/5.6, ISO 800.

See more of Russ Burden’s work at

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