Custom Search

Saturday, September 3, 2011

So close you can almost feel her breath: How wildlife photographer captured amazingly intimate portraits of pride of lions

By Craig Mackenzie

Puzzled: A curious young lioness gazes into the camera, below, which had been set up on a tree in the wild on a game reserve in Zimbabwe

Taking pictures of big cats is always a tricky business, but if you want really intimate shots you have to get as close to them as you dare without becoming their dinner.

That's how wildlife photographer Chris Weston snapped these amazing shots of a pride of lions while documenting big game in Zimbabwe.

He used a remote camera fixed to a tree so he could capture them in off-guard moments and even put one inside a dead carcass and propped it up as though it were alive so he could see the moment the animals attacked.

The 44-year-old from Weymouth spent six weeks gaining the lions' trust, but insisted he was 'never really' in any danger.

He added: 'There is always an element of that when working with animals, especially wild ones, but it's key to be able to read their body language and the way they communicate with you.'

Chris, who has travelled all over the world to film large mammals, wanted to capture the personality of an animal in the same way a portrait artist would with a human subject.

'Lenses change the perspective of the way we see things,' he said. 'What I like to do is show it as we see it and the standard lens is 50mm which means you have to get relatively close.

'The idea is to give the viewer an idea of the personality of that individual animal.

The lion king: The leader of the pride runs towards the Chris Weston's camera. He had spent six weeks gaining the trust of the big cats

Attack: A camera hidden in a carcass captures the moment just before two of the animals swoop

'In much the same way as you would take a person's portrait, you can't be standing half a mile away with a long lens. You have to get close and establish some kind of relationship.'

Chris spends a long time building a relationship with his subjects and has returned to shoot this pride in the Ngamo Game Reserve on several occasions over the past five years.

'Lions are generally wary of humans but people would be surprised at how non-aggressive they are,' he said.

'What's surprising is that when you spend a lot of time with the lions you begin to get a sense of their individual characteristics.

'It's very much like making friends with an animal - and you can only do that when you are relatively close to them.'

After coming up with the idea to put the camera in the tree it took Chris about three days to get the picture he wanted.

Chris also took to the water to document the lions swimming. He said: 'Most cats don't like water so seeing them swimming was very interesting.'



Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Powered by Blogger