What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a male lion?
When I think of a Male Lion – Power, Confidence and hunger for dominance are just few things that spring to mind…
Many documentaries and books show these incredible animals as sleepy, lazy creatures who rely on females to do all the work. To a certain extent it is true, but lions in general sleep for up to 80% of their lives, which can make photographing them very difficult. Timing and understanding animal behavior plays a huge part in capturing what a lion is really all about.
As I mentioned, majority of time spent with lions they are sleeping but what we don’t often realize is that when we curl up under the sheets and settle in for a good night’s sleep, that is when lions are most active. That’s not to say you wont see them moving around and going about their daily business during the day because you often do, but the chances are not as great as viewing and spending time with them at night.
If we look at a male lion – as they go through life, their main goal is to be dominate, to gain a territory for themselves (or coalition) and then try and defend it for as long as possible while having as many females inside their territory and in turn successfully spreading their genes.
This means that for a majority of the time they are awake they are off patrolling territory and scent marking, vocalizing and making sure that no other lion moves in, which results in losing his territory and females. On average, when a male lion is on patrol they can cover up to between 20 – 25km/ 12.5-15.5miles in a single evening. Which, if you think about it is like us running a half marathon almost every single night, its no wonder they spend majority of the day sleeping, resting and conserving energy.
Having said all this, what are the 3 best ways to showcase the true meaning of what it is to be a male lion?
Below I have included 3 images which to me, optimize what a male lion is and stands for.
Number 1 – Eye contact
Although lions spend a large chunk of time sleeping, it gives us the opportunity to capture different images. Anyone who has looked into a male lions eyes will agree with me when I say, locking eyes with such an incredible animal, even if its just for a moment, will leave you speechless and humbled. Capturing any eye contact automatically boosts the image and adds intensity.
Number 2 – On patrol
Photographing lions while they are moving and on patrol is a great way to show off their body size(while standing and not lying down sleeping) and also portrays their intimidation, especially when walking towards you.
Number 3 – Spotlight photography
I am sure we can all agree that the evening darkness belongs to the lion. It is the period of they day where, the temperature has dropped, the diurnal animals are hiding away and the stillness of the night sets it. There is something mysterious about these animals at night and by photographing lions with the spot light, it often creates that mystical element.
So next time you spend time out in the field with a male lion(s) and he/they are on the move, don’t just snap away and hope for the best, put some thought into the shot and try portray the true nature of a male lion…
Until next time,
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