The king

I have found over the years that I now take most of my images at the two extremes; either a close up, as of this old boy in the Okavango Delta, or at a wide angle to show context, as here at Macatoo, with the angry elephant shooing the lioness away.

If you are lucky, you will come across lions on the prowl, and it is incredible to watch them in action stalking their prey.  This is where you do need top end equipment, as the guides won’t want to get too close for fear of disrupting the lion’s stalking, and the evening light is often poor.  This image was taken at ISO1000, on a D7100 with a 300mm f4 lens and a 1.4 teleconverter, so right on the limit of my equipment’s capabilities and is not as sharp as it might be.  It shows a black maned Kalahari lion in the early evening, having a stand off with a herd of wildebeest.

Some photographers like to capture the action around a kill.  Witnessing one or more lions bring down prey is awe inspiring, but for me this is a time to put the camera away and simply watch what is happening in front of you.  No image can capture a kill.  The likelihood of seeing one is low, so just absorb the experience rather than trying to record it.

This lioness, at Macatoo, was very hungry and after failing to catch a zebra, had turned her attentions towards the camp’s horses, which were out grazing in a temporary paddock on the plains.  Normally lion will stay away from people unless they are very hungry. We spent several hours in the vehicle that day and kept between the lioness and the horses trying to encourage her to move on to some other target.  I was lucky in that she spent some time on a hummock and at eye level to me.

Lions are generally very relaxed around safari vehicles, seeing the vehicle as a large moving object, much like an elephant.  However, you should never take this for granted. Always stay in the vehicle, and also ensure that your body is within the boundaries of the vehicle.  It may be tempting to lean out to get a particular shot, but if your arm breaks the vehicle silhouette then the lion may notice; which would not be good.

One of the problems you often encounter when photographing a lion is that the guides will park too close, so that your images are focused down on the beast, reducing the dramatic impact.  And as I have just said, it is dangerous to lean out to get a lower viewpoint.  This is a good image of a lioness just after eating, but one that would have been even better if taken from ground level, or from further away so that the downward angle was not so obvious.

Finally, I cannot resist sharing this image.  This large lion had gorged on a buffalo carcase and was now resting, while keeping an eye out to ensure that jackals and vultures stayed away.  This cheeky jackal, noticing that the lion had dozed off, had snuck up behind to see if it could get near the buffalo without being seen, but was soon chased away moments after I pressed the shutter.

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