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Only the bush separated us from the lioness. She was calm though, eyeing us while we slowly drove by.

Only the bush separated us from the lioness. She was calm though, eyeing us while we slowly drove by.
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Behind The Lens

Location

It was taken in Kafue National Park, Zambia. As two fresh out of university nature conservationists, we are currently at the stage of finding funds to start a nature conservation and development aid project around Kafue National Park. It is our goal to create business opportunities for, and together with the locals that live around this park. Through this path we aim to improve both the quality and sustainability of their livelihoods. As a result, we believe that the negative impact on wildlife will decrease and nature will flourish again.

Time

A few hours after midday. The sun was relentlessly hot that day and all creatures, except the Tsetse flies (the most horrible biting flies you can imagine), were making most of it in the shade. This included the lioness, who was watching us very carefully from the bush...

Lighting

The light was really harsh at the time of day we found the lioness. Because she was in the bush though, it did not really mind. Most of the effort went out to taking a sharp photo of the lioness and keeping my underpants clean... =)

Equipment

A Nikon D3300 with a 18 to 300mm Sigma lens. Ooww, and Sisi (our 98' Toyota Landcruiser Prado) drove us around.

Inspiration

The shivers that run down my neck. I think this lioness was less than 2 meters away from us! We drove by a bush in our car, and there she was: staring me right in the eyes. I opened the window as far as I dared and slowly took a picture. It was hard to get the right shot as my sight on most of her body was obstructed by branches and leaves. So I decided to take a shot of just an eye.

Editing

Yes, definitely. The eye of the lioness was partially obstructed by a leaf. The camera however was focused on the eye of the lioness which resulted in making the leaf a bit translucent. To make sure that eye of the lioness would pop out of the picture I increased the blacks, contrast and clarity (used Lightroom) of the picture. In addition, the lioness was hiding under a bush so I increased the exposure a little bit.

In my camera bag

My girlfriend and I traveled through Botswana, Zambia and Namibia for three months to find a location to start a project related to Nature Conservation and Development Aid. In between the "working" part of our trip we also visited some of the most amazing wilderness areas in southern Africa (Okavango, Chobe, Etosha, Kaokavelt, Kafue, etc). As this part of Africa is mostly a desert, it was a challenge to protect our camera as good as we could (fine dust is the worst). One of the measures we took was to buy a all-in-one lens (18mm for landscape to 300mm for zoom/macro) so that we didn't need to swap lenses all the time. This prevented fine dust to accumulate on the sensor of the camera. In addition, we always carry the usual lens and body cleaning kit. And that is it for most of the time. Sometimes we bring a MeFoto Roadtrip tripod if we want to shoot a prolonged exposure.

Feedback

- I think the most important thing to do in such a situation is to keep your cool. Any unexpected moves from us could have resulted in the lioness attacking us. - As with any picture, you have to be there. We could have easily stayed in camp during the hot hours of the day to chill. So, although you always need luck to witness anything great, you will eventually be more lucky if you invest more time and effort in what you want to achieve. - Be with a friend or lover. The road conditions can be bad in parts of southern Africa, which require a lot of your attention while driving. If I would have been on my one during my travels I had probably missed out on this lioness because I was too occupied with driving. In addition, I always prefer sharing these experiences with the people I love.

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