Weekly Photo Challenge: “Unfocused” (Cheetahs)

Cheetah Coalition #2 – Copyright Anne M. Freeman

When I saw this week’s photo challenge, “Unfocused,” I knew exactly where to go:  my cheetah photo file.  My very first photos of cheetahs ((Acinonyx jubatus) were unfocused.  We were travelling along a track in the Tarangire National park in Tanzania, a game preserve not far from the Serengeti, when we came across three cheetahs lounging on an old, dead termite mound.  We were all thrilled beyond belief because cheetahs are not easy to spot and not every safari group sees these beautiful animals.  They were pretty far away – too far away for the point-and-shoot cameras that many of my colleagues had.  My camera was a Pentax superzoom X-90, which had a 26 x digital zoom lens.  As you can see in the photos below, the photos were distorted because they were at the very furthest point my camera could take an image.   Had this been the only instance that we saw cheetahs – it wasn’t – I would have been very disappointed.  I’ve posted a few photos of cheetahs for an earlier weekly post you can view by clicking on the title here:  Weekly Photo Challenge:  “Ready to Run!”

When I returned home and began reviewing my 4,000 photos (for real!),  this batch of photos eventually showed up.   I actually liked them!  The effect appeared to me to be like a watercolor, so I kept the photos.  They were the only time we saw more than one cheetah together during the safari.  In all other sightings, the cheetahs were alone.  The cheetahs in these photos are adults, and are most likely a band of males that are brothers.  Male cheetahs frequently form bands, which are called coalitions.  Unrelated males will also form coalitions.  Females, however, are solo animals.  The only time females will be found in groups is with their own cubs.

Cheetah Coalition #1 – Copyright Anne M. Freeman

Some interesting facts about cheetahs:

Their claws are not fully retractable as are other felines, but their claws help them to run.  They cannot climb tree trunks, but there are not a lot of trees in the savannahs where they typically live, so that skill would not be frequently used anyway.   They will jump up onto low boughs of Acacia trees.

They stand about 2 1/2 to 3 feet at their shoulders, and weight between 75-160 lbs, so they are not very large animals, and certainly could not stand up to an attack by a lion, their main foe, which weighs in around 600 lbs.  They are attacked by lions, leopards and hyenas, so cheetahs steer clear of these animals.

Cheetahs sport black “tear streaks” starting at the inner corners of their eyes and travelling down beside their nose and to the corners of their mouth.  You can see the black streaks in these photos, which serve to reduce the bright equatorial sun’s glare to help cheetahs see long distances.  Long distance sight is critical to cheetah’s hunting in the wide open expanses of the plains of the Serengeti and other habitats, although cheetahs can be found in different terrains, like the cheetahs in these photos.  Being sight hunters, cheetahs hunt in the mornings and later afternoons when it is cooler yet still light.

Of course, cheetahs are known for their incredible speed, running in bursts of between 60-90 miles per hour.  But they cannot keep up this speed for long, only 200-300 yards, which raises their body temperature so much that rest is required.  Consequently, cheetahs will stalk their prey until they are close enough to capture them quickly.  Because cheetahs as so light, they don’t have the weight to drag down their prey like lions and leopards can.  Cheetahs try to trip their prey, and then bite them in the neck to suffocate them.  Their hunts are successful about 50% of the time, but they frequently lose their catch to other larger predators, so they eat their prey immediately.

Cheetah Coalition #3 – Copyright Anne M. Freeman

Cheetahs are renown for their speed, the fastest land animals on earth.  What amazes me, however, is how quickly they get up to speed.  Take a look at these stats:

2012 Corvette ZR1:  0-60 mph 3.4 seconds.  $111,600

2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet PDK: 0-60 mph 3.8 seconds. $128,385

2012 Cheetah: 0-64 mph 3 seconds.  Priceless


You are welcome to include a link to your presentation of “Unfocused” in your comments.

Get interactive!  You are invited to comment upon this posting.  Options include actual comments, star ratings, “Like” buttons and reposting options.  To access interactivity options, click on the comments link.

Purchase this photo print and other photo prints at:  http://www.shutterfly.com/pro/annefreemanimages/AnneFreemanImagesPhotoStore

Some interesting interpretations of “Unfocused” from around the blog world:












<<<<Read this: http://justanotherwakeupcall.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/weekly-photo-challenge-unfocused/>>>>


112 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: “Unfocused” (Cheetahs)

  1. Pingback: Supermoon and its Moonshadow | Living Life in Glorious Colour

  2. Anne- great shots. I also get a lot of unfocused shots when I first see something – want to get a shot first then see how I can make it better. These did come out with that great watercolor quality you mentioned. Nice work!

  3. They do look like paintings! Was this by accident or obtained by a photo program to really give it that look… don’t get me wrong they are amazing… I am just curious 🙂
    PS Thanks fot stopping by CTB and commenting on my pics 🙂 My cat photo isn’t as ‘wild’ as yours 😉

    • Greetings CTB. This was an accident of using the furthest extension of my digital zoom. Apparantly, the furthest reaches of digital zoom don’t create sharp images. This is exactly how the photos turned out, with the exception of a little saturation of color becuase they were faded at such a long distance. If you have a camera with digital zoom, you may be able to create this look, too. Enjoyed your visit.


  4. These Cheetah images look as if they have been carefully painted using watercolors. Nice impressionistic photos of one of the most beautiful creatures on earth!

    • Thank you, Rick. I found a number of images that I really liked. Some very creative captures. The challenge, to me, was to find a photo that was not intentional, but that conveyed some special meaning, or that turned out unexpectedly, like the digital zoom photos of mine. I appreciated the article that you wrote on your blog, with the intentionally unfocused photos. Especially the tulips. That was great! I want to work towards more intentionality. Thanks for coming by, Rick.


      • I highly recommend Mike Hagen. Known him for years. I’ve had a one-on-one workshop with him years ago and a 4 day workshop here in WA state. Very generous with his time, very personable, & knowledgeable!

  5. Considering the likelihood that I will ever make it to Africa is pretty slim, I’d be happy with these. I really like how your processing gives them a painting like quality.

    • Hi Jeff – I actually didn’t process them other than deepen the color a bit because they were a bit washed out. I took the photos using the outermost extreem of my digital zoom, and that’s how they came out. I was surprised, but ended up liking the looik. Thanks for coming by, Jeff.


  6. I forgot to ask you. Was this adventure to theTarangire National park part of a photography workshop? A professional photography friend of mine offers one each year, his name is Mike Hagen.

    • Rick – it was not a photography tour. The next one I take will be! I was in a jeep full of people with point-and-shoots who got mad at me for taking too long to take my pictures! I’ll know better next time. Thanks for the name.


    • Thanks so much, Kate! I’m thinking of making that series of photos into greeting cards. I think they would work out nicely in that context. So glad you enjoyed them. I was certainly blessed during that safari.


  7. Great photos Anne, the photo distortion makes them almost look like they are painted images. Thanks for the like from you.

  8. Dear Anne. I really like your pictures! Especially the first one is awesome! A very interesting effect you created here. I understand your excitement when you saw the cheetahs, beautiful animals.

    • Hi Cassie – so nice of you to drop by my blog. I was thrilled to see the cheetahs. Each one of us had an animal we dreamed of seeing. Quite a few had big smiles on their faces that day.


    • Thank you, Guilas41. To be honest, I don’t know how far I was – I am hopelessly unable to envision distance. What I can tell you is I used a Pentax x-90 camera with a digital zoom, and had it zoomed out to its extreem of x26. Hope that means something to you!


  9. I love cheetahs. It’s really interesting how the pictures looks like paintings, like really good impressionistic paintings. I like it. Did you use a special filter?

    • Hi Anette. Actually, I didn’t do anything to the photos except saturate the color a little bit. The effect was caused by the digital zoom taken to it’s extreem. I was surprised by the results, but liked it. Thanks for the visit.


  10. They look like watercolors – really interesting. Thanks for comenting on my forget me nots. I’m new to blogging and wow, as soon as I entered this Photo Challenge I had new people come to my blog – which is pretty cool.

    • This blog group is great. People are interested in how we approach the prompts, and some put a lot of work into their narratives that support the photo. I find it quite enjoyable, and makes it worth investing the time. Glad to have you on board. Thanks for coming by.


  11. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Unfocused « Behind the Willows

  12. lovely shots… as a stranger to photography, one thinks getting a good focus is of prime importance, turns out, lack of focus makes nice shots too 🙂 the things one learns!!! am glad i stopped by and thanks for all the cheetah info!

    • Hello JAWC. Happy that you stopped by and enjoyed the cheetahs. They are lovely creatures! I’m always learning new things about photography on this blog. It’s great.


  13. As you say, the photos look like watercolour paintings; they are really beautiful! Cheetahs are my favourite of the big cats. I was lucky as a teen to have spent a few days with 5 hand-reared cheetah, who would take their chunk of meat from my hands and eat it just out of reach. Gorgeous!
    I look forward to spending time “in” your blog. 😉
    Regards, Charlene

    • Greetings, Charlene. So glad you came by! How fortunate you were to experience those beautiful animals up close like that. It must have made a big impression on you as a teen. They are exquisite animals.


Your Reply Is Most Welcome!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: