Lions of the Red Dunes

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…

lion male dune 6 KTP 2011
Nikon D3s | Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II | 1.4x teleconverter | f5.6 | 1/500 SS | ISO-800
lion dune 1
Nikon D3s | Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II | f5.6 | 1/400 SS | ISO-1600
lion male dune 1 KTP 2012
Nikon D800 | Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 VR-II | f5.6 | 1/640 SS | ISO-100
lion dune 1 KTP 2011
Nikon D3s | Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II | f4.0 | 1/200 SS | ISO-3600
lion dune 1 KTP 2013
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


Morkel Erasmus

I used to relish writing these kinds of “bio” pieces and would flaunt the odd impressive word and use dashing grammar to make it sound like I am a boundary-shifting photographer. These days I prefer stating it in much simpler ways, much more relatable ways, much more believable ways… The fact of the matter is this: I love Africa. I love its people, its wild places and its wildlife. I love being immersed in these places, observing and photographing the fall of light on the land and the daily lives of the creatures that call it home, and presenting the results to whoever will take a look. To me, nature photography is all about being in the moment, and capturing that moment in a way that can relate to someone who didn’t have the privilege of being there with me. Sometimes I am able to capture a unique vision of the scene before me, and sometimes I just capture it the way most folks would according to classical photographic guidelines. Yet I always enjoy sharing the images and experiences and imparting the knowledge I have, both in-the-field and later online or in presentations, workshops and courses. I also just simply enjoy capturing and sharing the beauty of God's creation! The greatest thing I’ve found about wildlife and nature photography in Southern Africa is the unity and familiarity of the community of people that share this passion. We come from all walks of life and all cultures and backgrounds, yet our passion for our natural heritage and our dream to see it preserved for future generations binds strangers together and fuels conversations around campfires long after other people have run out of conversation and energy. Join me on a WildEye adventure to experience this sharing community spirit and learn to anticipate that fleeting moment and be ready for it, learn to immerse yourself in the experience without losing focus of your photographic goals…and above all, learn to see Africa anew… because there are none as blind as those who look but do not see!

Vanished - Megascops Choliba by Jose Garcia Allievi

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Morkel Erasmus

Since picking up a DSLR camera for the first time, a little over 3 years ago, Morkel has been invigorated with an unbridled passion for the photographic art form. He has grown at a tremendous pace and put immense energy into the creation of his images. He absolutely loves spending time in the wild places of his native Southern Africa. From a young age he has been visiting legendary wildlife and outdoor locations, including the Kruger Park National Park and the Drakensberg Mountains, with his family. Now that he has found a way to share the natural beauty of his homeland with the rest of the world he is regularly out on photography trips. An Industrial Engineer by profession, and an accomplished artist in genres like music and poetry, Morkel has always enjoyed whatever allows him to express his creativity to the fullest. Photography turned out to be the perfect "marriage" between his engineering brain and artistic soul. "I hope that in some way I can raise awareness through my imagery of the plight of not only our wildlife but also the fragility of the last remaining wilderness areas that they call home.” Morkel was recently honoured for his commitment to his craft by receiving a "Highly Commended" for one of his images in the 2010 BBC Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. He is based in Mpumalanga, South Africa and even though he prefers going on safari with his family and friends, Morkel also leads the odd photographic safari and has recently begun presenting workshops in post-processing techniques.

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