Thursday 13 May 2010

The narrow escape with the Lionscape...

So, I am back from a very exciting and fulfilling trip to Dullstroom and the Madikwe Game Reserve. Not only were there loads of mind-blowing photographic opportunities, but I got to spend some quality time with my wife, a few good friends and like-minded photographers like Gerry van der Walt and Kerry de Bruyn.

I thought you might get a good chuckle out of the story I want to share, as well as have even more appreciation for the image it produced upon reading it.

We set out on Tuesday morning at 5AM to drive to a section of the Madikwe Game Reserve called the Madikwe Plains...a vast open stretch of African savannah that is reminiscent of the Serengeti in many ways. We got there well before the sun peeked over the horizon, and there were some wildebeest and springbok visible on the plains, with nice mountain ridges and some clouds that were adopting glorious colour tones from the rising sun.

In a great mood to make the most of this landscape, Gerry and I hopped off the Land Rover with our cameras and tripods and started setting up in front of the Landy in the dirt road, looking to the West to capture the colours of the sunrise on the plains. All of a sudden my darling wife asked: "What's that in the road?"

When I turned my head, a cold shudder ran down my spine and tingled in the tips of my toes...even though the sun hadn't completely risen, the shape that was lying about 20 meters up ahead in the road was unmistakeably that of a full-grown male lion...and he was looking straight at us. We could certainly have broken some kind of record for high-jumping with our attempts to scramble back into the vehicle! All the while the lion was just lying there, minding its own business. It's kind of funny when you look back at it now...

Here is a shot I snapped very quickly after we'd hopped back into the relative safety of the game viewer...

As we drove closer, it turned out to be one of a coalition of 2 brothers who were dominant on these plains, but this one seemed to have bit on the short end of the stick in a scuff with his brother recently. The next moment he broke out roaring right next to us! 

A few moments later his brother answered from across the plains.

It was quite a surreal experience...they kept roaring at each other periodically, and we kept trying different photographic compositions. In the end, one of my favourites from the trip is this last one. I held my camera way down the side of the Land Rover, went ultra-wide with my wide-angle lens, and snapped 3 exposures, of which I used 2 to blend this final image together. One exposure was used for the sky and mountains (underexposed) and one for the lion and plains (zero exposure).

Here is my lion in high dynamic range...(remember to click on the images for higher res viewing)

 I would love to hear what you think about my "experience" and the resulting shots! :)

Thanks for keeping a watchful eye on my meager blog...

I will be changing the overall content of this blog to cover more of my photography than just "HDR" or "blending" since I am in the process of constructing an official homepage and will link this as the official blog to my page.

Keep shooting!!

Morkel Erasmus


  1. Wow, this is awesome & that is why we stay in Africa!!!

  2. What a great morning...won't forget that for a while! Was great shooting with you Morkel. Love the HDR lion, great shot!

  3. wow , what a story Morkelbhai