Lewa, Kenya 2017
15 years ago, photographers working on the equator, had a light window of 12 hours. The sun would rise at around 6.30 am and then set around 6.30 pm and that was that. They would maybe have a 20 minute opportunity either side, if the film was pushed to a high “ASA”, but it would all be rather marginal. Image grain and noise rose quickly after the sun set and equally waking long before dawn seemed like a waste of a decent sleep.
But in 2017, the best digital cameras are generous in tough light and flagship DSLR cameras can work well before dawn and after dusk. Technical advance has essentially added an hour on to the working day. These new minutes can make for evocative and powerful imagery simply because the light is so unusual.
This image of a hunting lion was taken as I was on my way back to camp in Lewa Downs, I had actually packed up for the night. I am sure that those who know Lewa will recognise the hills in the background – there is a great sense of place in this image.
My metadata suggests the photograph was taken as late as 6.47 pm and conveying the intent and purpose of this stunning lion was therefore a technical compromise. The encounter happened with no warning and I needed to be quick to get low in the grass and also get the right lens – the light was falling every 20 seconds. The strong wind demanded a higher shutter speed than I would have liked, but it certainly served to give the image some extra zing.
The whole image smells of East Africa.