Leopard and The Moon

Behind The Frame: Leopard and the Moon

Andrew Beck Andrew 10 Comments

I received a number of enquiries asking about how I created this image after sharing it on Instagram and Facebook a couple of weeks ago.

Leopard and The Moon

Lets start by dismissing some of the suggestions of the use of photoshop to create a composite image by confirming that there is a RAW .CR2 file for this exact image.


The relative size of the leopard in relation to the moon should also eliminate any questions as to whether this was just an incredibly lucky moment in an open area. Both images were captured with a 400mm lens.

The final image is infact a multiple exposure created in camera.

The first of the two images was captured at 18:56 on the 10th of November.


Two days later at 18:33 some creative inspiration struck and as the moon rose over the Lowveld on the evening of the 12th of November.

The sidelit leopard image left plenty of space for an additional exposure to be added to the frame and, with that in mind, I enabled multiple exposure in the camera menu settings (I’ve added Multiple Exposure into my Custom menu settings as well.

Multiple Exposure Settings
Canon Offers a number of modes under the “Multi-expos ctrl menu”

The Additive exposure control is for those photographers who are used to shooting multiple exposures with film cameras. Instead of taking each image with the correct exposure, the total exposure is added up from each individual image. To achieve the correct result, you should underexpose each image so that the resulting image is correctly exposed once they are all combined together.

The Average setting provides an automatic exposure control whereby each image is automatically underexposed so that the final image is then correctly exposed. Unlike with the Additive setting, all of the images in the multiple exposure will be averaged and taken at the same exposure level setting.

The (Comparative) Bright setting is suited to photographing uniformly dark scenes with bright objects superimposed on top. A classic example of such a scene would be a moon superimposed on a dark night sky – achieving this can only be done by overlaying the bright objects within the scene.

Conversely, (Comparative) Dark is used to eliminate the bright areas of images and so only overlay the dark areas of each image. This setting is useful for eliminating reflections and bright patches in an image – like the reflections you may see when photographing a portrait of someone wearing glasses.

Selecting the original leopard image captured 2 days earlier and knowing that their was plenty of space in the top left hand corner of the image, I composed my shot of the moon, dialled in the settings and tripped the shutter to capture this image.


The camera then blends the two images by adding one to the other to produce a new .CR2 File which I then converted into a black and white in Lightroom.

Leopard and The Moon

Once you’ve selected your original image for multiple exposure, you can activate Live View mode to get an idea of what your final multiple exposure will look like. A pretty neat function!

I’m still experimenting and trying to find combination of where I feel  these sorts of multiple exposure images work but I enjoyed this particular combination and hope that this post will help you get to grips with the settings needed to create these sorts of images in camera.

The Wildlife Photography Seminar at Sabi Sabi provides excellent night time photographic opportunities where experimenting with multiple exposures can yield interesting results.


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About the Author

Andrew Beck

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Very few people can tell you what their passion in life is. Even fewer will be able to tell you that what they do for a living is in fact their passion. My love for the bush and conservation took me on journey which would not only allow me to explore the continent which fascinates me so much, but to share my passion for photography and conservation with others. Be sure to check out my my website and instagram account.


Comments 10

  1. Ken Haley

    Impressive stuff Andrew, I especially went up to Orphen Tamboti Camp in the hope of capturing some shots of the supermoon, miserable weather of cloud, rain and wind quickly killed off any hopes I had!!! Your positioning of the leopard in relation to the moon looks perfect to me, you must be delighted with the result. Best regards, Ken

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  2. Geoff Leader

    Lovely creative photography – expect nothing less from you guys at Wild Eye. Well done young man. Hope to see you next year when we get a gap from the workload.

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  3. Kathryne Anne Pusch

    I had NO idea I could do this in my Canon Cam. I admit to not knowing all the functionality at my disposal, and enjoy learning from the experts. Thanks so much for this mini-class. We went to Mana Pools with WildEye in Oct 2016 and Marlon deToit taught us so much about using the fabulous light in that magical place.

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