In September I went to South Africa as part of my Guardian ‘Been There’ prize (see this previous post to look at the journey I took to get there). I am not a wildlife photographer so being there on assignment was a steep learning curve. The Guardian chose their favourite images; the following ten photographs are the ones I would choose:

1) My first photo choice is this one of a leopard chilling out in a tree. Her male cub was in another tree further away but Ngala staff are hot on protecting animals and making sure they are not put under stress.

A beautiful animal that is hard to spot in the wild. Our first evening at Ngala gave us this special sighting.

2 and 3) I really loved the variety of wildlife and the chance to see the incredibly rare African Wild Dog is a memory I will always treasure. The next two photos show off this little seen animal:

A wild dog at Wild Dog Crossing

Portrait of a female African wild dog roaming the boundary of Kruger National Park

4) The next image is not perfect. I would never send this to a publication as the cheetah is facing the wrong way! I still love this photo though as it shows of the amazing South African morning light and I like the way the light creates a glow around the cheetah’s ears.

I wish the cheetah had turned round (not to be) but I still love the light in this image.

5) Elephants have the most amazing skin. It really tells a story. My normal work as a photograph involves a lot of human portraiture but I loved this opportunity to create an animal portrait using a lot of the same techniques.

An awesome animal up close. The African elephant is huge and this female was about three meters from our car!

6) and 7) I see myself as a visual storyteller and I generally like to challenge stereotypes. One animal with a bad rep is the hyena so I enjoyed taking photos of some young and playful hyenas to show their beautiful side.

I love his wrinkled forehead!

I find it amusing how grumpy hyenas look most of the time, each and every one we saw in Ngala had its own character.

8 and 9) You cannot go to Kruger without taking photographs of lions and we were fortunate enough to get close to a few of the ‘kings of the plains’:

Two male lion brothers stalk their prey.

It is a tough life being a lion – this female mother yawns as she stretches out beside her male cub.

10) My favourite image from our time in South Africa simply because it sums up Ngala well…. one minute you are looking at some trees and the next you realise you are staring straight at a beautiful cheetah.