Adventures of a Nature Photographer: The Ocelot

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What is the work of a nature photographer really like? Adventures, beautiful landscapes, expeditions and wild animals? Have you ever wondered how all these breathtaking pictures are made? I, for sure, did.

This is why I created “Adventures of a Nature Photographer”. I want to share my experiences with you.

Come with me on expedition to the Atlantic Forest of Brazil and find out how I take pictures, which animals I find and what obstacles I have to overcome during my field work.

During the course of my project at the Instituto Terra in Minas Gerais, I found out that wild ocelots are inhabiting this area in reforestation. Even though I knew that the ocelot lived in the area, it was extremely difficult to make a picture. As reforestation work is still going on the ocelot changes its territory every few months.

Adventures of a Nature Photographer: The Ocelot

It took me about five months to identify its current territory, leaving me with the difficulty of getting it in front of my camera. Due to my limited resources I had to improvise, creating a photographic trap that would allow me to photograph at night without being in the range of scent and being bitten to death my mosquitoes.

I installed a surveillance camera in a tree, set up my camera and waited a few hundred meters down the road with my eyes never leaving the surveillance camera image on my laptop. My heart started to race when two glowing eyes finally showed up in the night.

This must have been the longest seconds of my life waiting for the animal to enter in the right spot, the perfect position. The ocelot approached slowly, climbing the tree trunk looking around.

Leonardo Merçon

Leonardo Merçon

My name is Leonardo Merçon. I am a nature photographer from Brazil implementing projects in several areas related to environmental awareness and the documentary recording of Brazil's natural resources. Ever since I can imagine I wanted to be a nature photographer supporting environmental awareness. In 2011 I officially found the Últimos Refúgios Institute, a non-profit organization that aims to sensitize society about the existence and the urgent need for preservation of preservation units in Brazil. The Institute provides records of the Atlantic Forest preservation units and promotes environmental awareness. The results of my work are published in photographic books and documentaries, which are distributed free at schools and libraries, as well as through activities of environmental awareness rising at local pre-schools. I am constantly developing new techniques in order to photograph wild animals in their natural habitat.

Leonardo Merçon

Leonardo Merçon

My name is Leonardo Merçon. I am a nature photographer from Brazil implementing projects in several areas related to environmental awareness and the documentary recording of Brazil's natural resources. Ever since I can imagine I wanted to be a nature photographer supporting environmental awareness. In 2011 I officially found the Últimos Refúgios Institute, a non-profit organization that aims to sensitize society about the existence and the urgent need for preservation of preservation units in Brazil. The Institute provides records of the Atlantic Forest preservation units and promotes environmental awareness. The results of my work are published in photographic books and documentaries, which are distributed free at schools and libraries, as well as through activities of environmental awareness rising at local pre-schools. I am constantly developing new techniques in order to photograph wild animals in their natural habitat.

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Susan Lee

How lovely these wild cats are! Thank you for sharing this.

Ken_Billington

Leonardo, thanks for sharing this interesting video about how you photographed the Ocelot – I also learned about using “bacon and honey” to attract this cat! Looking forward to seeing more of your outstanding photos.

Susan Lee

It is nearly impossible to describe their incredible beauty in each and every motion. One has to experience this where the deep inner thrills of appreciation can be strummed to its full-bodied music. I was this way about appreciating thoroughbred horses, too, and while living in New Jersey "back-when"as they say, used to routinely attend Monmouth Park racetrack in season and Roosevedt Raceway in Monmouth's off-season. JUST to get up against the rails and watch the horses.

Ina Mitchell
Ina Mitchell

I used to know a man that had a Brazilian import company. He had a pet ocelot named Lisa. Once, he asked me to drive Lisa in his Cadillac convertible to Santa Monica Pier, while he and his friends sailed their outriggers there. I had Lisa's leash around my wrist and she sat proudly on the seat beside me. I parked the car and a lifeguard tried to chase us off the pier. I told him about watching for boats and he escorted me to the Coast Guard office at the end of the pier. The Captain was very gracious… Read more »

Susan Lee

How lovely these wild cats are! Thank you for sharing this.