Tuesday 30 September 2014

Lions of the Red Dunes

I have just gotten back from hosting a Wild Eye Great Migration Photographic Safari, with a mountain of new images to catalogue and process. I am already looking forward to my next safari, though, and this one will be to one of my favourite wilderness areas - the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park - with my favourite person: my lovely wife Nicole!

This park is known for its harsh landscape, its heat, and its amazing wildlife encounters - notably the black-maned male lions that call the Kalahari home.

Over the past 5 years I've been back many times, always looking for that elusive and iconic photo of a lion on or in front of the red dunes that line the Auob and Nossob riverbanks (these are fossil rivers that very occasionally in a century).

Here are 3 of my best attempts to date of capturing this scene...of course you can only capture what you are presented with, so it helps being at the right time and the right place. By now you know that I love adding context to my wildlife photos, and these kinds of photos leave you in no doubt as to where they were taken. As usual, clicking on the photos reveals the best display resolution and sharpness...

Nikon D3s  |  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II  |  1.4x teleconverter  |  f5.6  |  1/500 SS  |  ISO-800

Nikon D3s  |  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II  |  f5.6  |  1/400 SS  |  ISO-1600

Nikon D800  |  Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 VR-II  |  f5.6  |  1/640 SS  |  ISO-100

Nikon D3s  |  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II  |  f4.0  |  1/200 SS  |  ISO-3600

Nikon D800  |  Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 VR-II  |  f11  |  1/250 SS  |  ISO-800

Let me know which of these is your favourite! I will undoubtedly try to return with a better one in December. Your best photo is the one you will take tomorrow, is it not?

Until I write again, keep clicking!

Morkel Erasmus


  1. I'll opt for the first and last, although I know #3 has the most red sand..... I just went through all my shots from there, no lion against red sand either, some gemsbok though...

    Hope you have a great time there and don't get stuck in the loose sand ;-)

  2. It is so hard to choose! The last one draws me right into the setting and it feels like I'm back there, so I'll have to say it's my favorite. The three photo's of old lazybumms lounging on the dune is so typical of the Kgalagadi that you just can't select an outright winner. Once again, great photos. Thanks for sharing it.

    1. My pleasure! Thanks for your comment (belated reply from me...)

  3. I love the third one

  4. I love #1 for the pose - the shape of the lion complements the shape of the hill. And #4 for the lovely soft blue light! All in all great shots!