Dinokeng, South Africa, 2015
This portrait of a majestic and dangerous lion, walking with such conspicuous alertness, was captured on a dry river bed near the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe. It is an unusual image for me in that the remote was fitted with Nikon’s flagship 58m lens rather than a wide angle. This was a good decision as it allowed a little more sense of place as well as huge clarity of detail in the lion’s face.
Technically it was a challenge, as with this lens, there is no room for error in the exact fraction of a second that I chose to press my thumb on the remote unit. The lion’s behaviour will always change when the motor drive is activated as it is not a sound they are familiar with and therefore to press too early results not only in a fractionally out of focus picture, but unnatural body shape and behaviour in the lion.
This timing issue is a very tough ask. At high adrenaline moments in the field, either early in the day or at twilight, there is always a formidable temptation to press the button too early if the content is manifestly there. It’s a bit like dating.
Remote control work is a skill in itself, but happily I have now been doing it so long that I am nearly on top of it. This image is pin, pin sharp and all that know me well, know that I say this through gritted teeth. It is that important.