As you know, patience always pays off and we’ve shared a number of posts on exactly this element of wildlife photography in the past (you can see some of the posts here).
During a recent Private Guided Safari to Madikwe we spent an afternoon with two lioness and a pair of young cubs. For 25 minutes of a 30 minute sighting the lions played hard to get, moving and playing around in long grass which dominated the drainage line that they were in.
Whilst the grasses really added a sense of place to the images, the photography was difficult and the guests had to be quick on the draw to capture any fleeting moments where the lions were actually visible through the long grass.
The, 25 minutes after arriving in the sighting (fortunately there was no pressure for us to make space for any other vehicles) as the light was getting to that point which excites even the most amateur of photographers, one of the lioness’ stood at the base of a termite mound and gavce a look which I read as “Right kids, we need to get going, come and join me here”.
I had spotted this exact termite mound on the way in to the sighting and commented on how amazing it would be if the young cubs were to climb and play around on top of the mound for us. Anyone who has spent time with cubs of the feline variety will know how much they like to climb and play round on anything that offers and elevated vantage point.
I instructed the guests to check their images, ensured that aperture, shutterspeed and exposure compensation setting were correct and then to simply wait for the pivotal moment.
I had high hopes that the scene I had envisaged half an hour ago would play out but the cubs could quite easily walk straight past the termite mound.
Luckily, that was not the case…
Two minutes and 10 seconds later, it was all done.
The take home message here is that knowing and being able to predict wildlife behaviour is a crucial element of wildlife photography. So too is patience. Not only did the light change over the course of the 30 minute sighting, but so too did the lions behaviour.
All to often, people will decide to move on from a sighting once they feel that they’ve got the images that are on offer.
That may be the case but in this particular instance, young cubs already exhibiting a desire to play around in the long grass coupled with the fact that it was late afternoon (about the time that lions start to get active) meant that this sighting could only get better – assuming they made their way our of the long grasses.
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