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Photo Series-African Lions

Updated on August 13, 2014
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Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

The king and queen, at least in the natural world, have long been held to be the regal lion and lioness and any photographer who regularly photographs nature should at one time or another conduct a photographic project involving these two fierce, dangerous yet majestic creatures. "The lion (Panthera leo) is one of the four big cats in the genus Panthera, and a member of the family Felidae. With some males exceeding 250 kg (550 lb) in weight,[4] it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger. Wild lions currently exist in Sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia with an endangered remnant population in Gir Forest National Park in India, having disappeared from North Africa and Southwest Asia in historic times." WIkipedia

Granted, unless you have the necessary time and funds to visit Africa on a tour, you will more than likely have to photograph them at your local zoo or nature preserve. Regardless of where you end up recording their images, your focus should be on doing several close ups, full body, and images of interaction between them and other members of the pride.

You should carry with you a zoom of about a 300mm or higher magnification factor. You will not need flash units for captive animals but probably will in a natural environment. For captive animals your best bet is to concentrate on mostly doing close ups, since these locations have openings times which are not that photographically friendly and the majority of the time the animals have been feed already and tend to be mostly at rest.

Also, since most preserves and zoos have enclosures for the safety of the public and the animals, longer shots can end up recording parts of these enclosures which always takes away from the main image.

Regardless of whether your subjects are wild or captive animals, pay attention to their eyes and focus on them to the point where they are very sharply in focus but do include the entire face if possible or at least most if it. Eyes by themselves do not make a strong image unless it is done for a specific project.

For wild animals your photographic frontier more than doubles. Here you can record images of family interactions, specially between females and their young, interaction between males and females and their hunting techniques such as squatting close to the ground and intensively "eyeing" their next meal.

Focus on females if you see a group moving almost in unison towards one direction whether or not you happen to see prey species as they often start approaching them from a distance. "Groups of female lions typically hunt together, preying mostly on large ungulates. Lions are apex and keystone predators, although they scavenge as opportunity allows. While lions do not typically hunt humans, some have been known to do so." Wikipedia


Also good to do is to try to focus their hunting "tools" such as their claws and their teeth which the females and some males usually use in order to strangulate their prey once they have brought it down.

Do try to also record images of individualism such a male with a thick and healthy looking mane.

Captive animals are often heftier and healthier and more photogenic than their wild counterparts due to their constant struggles and mating practices. However, with that said, nothing beats a true wildlife photographic experience.

Pay attention even when your subjects seem totally at rest, yawning lions while they fully showcase their huge teeth are always prime shots.

Playfulness in their young as they are naturally curious and are often more active during those times when the adults are less active, is always a good source of very pleasing and very suitable images for commercialism purpose such as for photographic stock houses and nature publications.

Keep in mind that these are not pets, always use extreme caution when recording these creatures in the wild and carefully heed your guide's advice.

As mentioned before a good prime zoom lens in the range of no less than 300mm is one of the best accessories to carry along with a tele-converter that will multiply your lens' range by 1/4 or 1/2 respectively, just be attentive to their light limiting effect.

Longer lenses may be better but most tours place space constrains upon a photographer and a big bulky lens may not be that advisable unless you are able to book a private tour.

Off course on a nature preserve or zoo the longer the lens the better and alongside a good tripod you probably won't need much else, besides patience and a keen eye to get those special shots.

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© 2012 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      seigfried23: Thank you

    • seigfried23 profile image

      seigfried23 4 years ago

      That's an incredible serene opening picture up above. Truly looks like King and queen surveying the lion's kingdom. Nice work!

    • anndavis25 profile image

      anndavis25 6 years ago from Clearwater, Fl.

      Busch Gardens, here in Tampa (I live in Clearwater) has an open range where visitors can ride through. I will keep these good pointers in mind, next time I go.

      Love the pictures you chose for this.

      Voted up and awesome

    • KimberlyLake profile image

      Kimberly Lake 6 years ago from California

      Love this Hub. Voted up and awesome. Great pics!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      Awesome hub. I love your pictures and would like to be so skilled in my photography. Voted up and awesome.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great hub and beautiful pictures of these very beautiful lions ! First picture not showing, try reposting it that might help.

      Useful and vote up !!!

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 6 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Wonderful hub with excellent information and wonderful pictures. Lions are one of my favorite animals. I am hoping to get to photograph some soon. I will definately keep this information in mind. Voted up and useful. Have a great day! :)

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 6 years ago from India

      They have to be the King and Queen

      Look at their elegant poses!

      Love it!

      Voted up and sharing

    • FordeAhern profile image

      FordeAhern 6 years ago from Broadford, Co. Limerick. ireland

      What a great hub. The pictures are excellent and you can see that a lot of work went into the research. voted up and interesting. Thank you.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 6 years ago

      We have an open zoo near our home that allow us to see these creatures up close. I have taken some great shots from a short distance (from behind the safety of a fence). I don't know if I would attempt to photograph these creatures in their natural habitat without a barrier between us. They are quite majestic and beautiful indeed. Your photos capture some amazing profiles of these animals.

    • EuroCafeAuLait profile image

      Anastasia Kingsley 6 years ago from Croatia, Europe

      Wow, or should I say ROOOAAR! Excellent and well researched Hub. Loved the photographs you used, the faces look almost human. Voted up and Awesome!

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      MichaelGallinger; There are a total of 6 images. I do not know why it is that you cannot see it

    • MichaelGallinger profile image

      MichaelGallinger 6 years ago from Detroit, MI

      Loved it! One question, I am unable to see the the first image on the RHS (top) do you have any image there or its just empty?