South Africa, 2020
This is unquestionably the meanest, toughest wild lion that I know in the world. There is a heavy-duty security fence between us that has a section designed so I can take this exact kind of portrait. The section had a rectangular box cut at lion eye level that was large enough for my camera to breathe, but too small for Gandalf the lion’s head. He still tried a couple of times to enter my space and my heart did skip a beat. Make no mistake, this is a massive and dangerous animal and these are close encounters.
The photograph is made with 7.30am backlight, using material depth of field and a lack of magnification. In all three variables, I have tweaked my preferences over the years and by learning how to get it hopelessly wrong, I now get it just about right. His whole face, from the outer chin to inner eyes, has to be pin sharp, which is a challenge from four feet away. My photography is rarely led by maths, but on this occasion, maths was pivotal.
I am happy with the construction of this image - I think it grabs and then holds the eye. The tail, the primal rawness and the scars.
If Al Pacino was Scarface, so also is Gandalf.
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AVAILABLE SIZES - FRAMED
LARGE: 67" x 87" (170 cm x 95 cm)
STANDARD: 48" x 67" (132 cm x 170 cm)
LARGE: Edition of 12
STANDARD: Edition of 12