Lioness Crossing Water
near Chitabe Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana. July 2011
Nikon D3x, 200-400mm f/4 @ 340mm, 1/1250 @ f/4
I have been back from safari for a few weeks now, however I haven’t had much of a chance to process or even look at any of my images. I have had a few business related trips, as well as a well needed family vacation.
I absolutely love it when we find predators near and in water. The Okavango Delta in northern Botswana is a very dynamic place to photograph, as the water levels rise and fall throughout the year. When the water rises, you end up with more and more isolated pieces of ground amongst the water. This can be a great thing for photographers, as all wildlife will eventually need to move through these waters. When photographing cats in water, I do like to pay attention to leg positioning as well as head direction. Let’s paint a picture here. We watched a pride of lions on an unsuccessful hunt of impala, and after the imapal ran off through the water we anticipated the lions following one of the impalas that appeared to be hurt. We drove and then positioned the Land Rover so that we would shoot the lions coming through the water from a 90 degree angle, if not a slightly less than 90 degree angle. Why? Well, I supposed we could have shot them coming towards the vehicle, which is also a great shot, but the distance between us and the lions would have given them enough room to walk away from us. Wildlife rarely walks towards you, so rather than fight for an oncoming shot we went for a side shot. I like 90 or near-90 degree angles, because I do like to see at least 1 eye of my subject. For argument’s sake let’s just say that the angle here is 90 degrees. This allowed us to photograph the lioness with 1 eye showing and a hint of her 2nd eye. Eyes make all the difference in a wildlife image, as well as things like leg position and tail. Here we have a visible tail and 4 legs that seem to have a nice balance to them. If you zoom in closely on the image you can also see a nice splash in the water, which is an added ‘golden nugget’ that I like to look out for. Golden nuggest are just those things that help keep a viewer’s attention on an image.
From a processing standpoint, I processed the image in Lightroom with basic tweaks, and then finished the image off in Nik Software’s Viveza 2. One thing to note is that I actually desaturated the lion, as a lion can pick up a heavy orange/yellow color cast if you aren’t careful. The landscape portion of the image needed punch and more saturation, however the main subject did not.