Don’t you think this lion looks quite vicious?
Not at all actually and this just goes to show how, when you freeze time, an image can convey a distorted reality. The lion above was following a female and displayed the flehmen grimace after sniffing her urine, a phenomena that Marlon explained in this blog post.
Often people who have never seen a lion roar confuse an image of a yawning lion, something that is a lot more visual, with a roar. I suppose it’s a very easy mistake to make and it’s probably quite easy to imagine that the incredible sounds a lion produces will make for amazing visuals.
Not the case unfortunately.
Photographically speaking the image on the left is way more impressive, dramatic, likeable and sharable.
In real life though the overall experience of the image on the right is way more intense. The sound of a roaring lion goes right through you and is something that will stay with you for a long time after you put your camera down.
This is the guy on the right roaring in Madikwe. After shooting the above frame I did a short iPhone video clip in which you will see that the mouth never opens all the way, like it does in a yawn, when a lion roars.
So, from a photography point of view a yawning lion, or even one showing the flehmen grimace, is a way more interesting and striking subject.
That said, don’t dismiss the intensity and complete awe you will feel when hearing a lion roar.
Both from a photography and overall wildlife experience, the more you know the better it gets!
Until next time,