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The Hedge of Protection

The Hedge of Protection
Photo Information
Copyright: Loot Eksteen (loot) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-10-18
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC H9, Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 15x Optical zoom, Digital ISO 200
Exposure: f/4.5, 1/125 seconds
Details: (Fill) Flash: Yes
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Travelogue: Kruger National Park - 2007
Theme(s): Great cats - Grandes felinos, Felidae of the world: Second series, Wild Life, _Fotos adicionadas por 5 ou mais membros II, Lions, Wildlife of Africa, Mammals of Africa, Mammals of Southern Africa II, Wild cats portraits, A study in Mammalogy (mammals) 1, 80-89 Points I, Wild Cats, annick vanderschelden's favourites, Kruger National Park 2, 5 favs. and up - PART 4, CeltickRanger's favorite African animal photos, Haraprasan's [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-04-26 0:09
Viewed: 7625
Favorites: 2 [view]
Points: 80
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Lion - Panthera leo

I'm by far no big game hunter. To the contrary, I've never hunted or killed anything in my life. That is of course if I donít consider all those animals I've hunted down and shot with my Canon, but at least nothing got killed this way (me thinks).

Every time one meets a full grown wild lion out there in its natural habitat, it's an amazing experience. I don't care how many times you perhaps might have seen a lion this way, but you're not going to convince me that you were not moved by it or stirred-up one way or another, whenever it did come to pass. Of course when it is a real close encounter (one of those 'smell the lion's breath' kind of close encounters) you are mostly moved in the way of substantial intimidation. Massive scale intimidation. Shear adrenaline pumping and terrorisation levels of intimidation. That is the moment when you start thinking about the strength in the design of your motor vehicle and the qualities of the metal used. You want a 'hedge of protection' between yourself and the predator.

Yes I know many people travel around our game parks in open vehicles, but hey it's them, not me. Maybe I'm too much of a chicken, maybe I'm too yellow, or maybe I've got too much practical savvy, because I still want that 'hedge of protection' between me and the lion. Something concrete or tangible that will make sure the animal cannot reach me or at least get distracted long enough so that I can make a hasty retreat. Even if it's just my wife that separates the space between me and the beast I would be comfortable with it, but just clean air doesn't do it for me (chuckle). Now I'll probably be in the dog box again, but hey, a man has got to do what a man has got to do and thus take care of his own hide in times of severe or potential danger (giggle).

Ok, if you could actually believe that I would really do what I've just said about my wife or that I am too scared to travel in an open vehicle in the same manner as hundreds of tourists do on a daily basis, then I really managed to pull some wool over your eyes. Yes, the intimidation factor always remains extremely high when meeting up with a lion and the closer the proximity of the animal the bigger the adrenaline flow. However, lions don't see people as individuals or as a source of food when they are seated inside a motor vehicle. Even if that is an open type of 4x4 or specially designed safari vehicles which gives the maximum exposure to view the animals without risking the safety of the passengers.

This lioness was about 2 metres away from me. She was lying right next to the H1-4 tarred road, just south of Olifants camp turnoff, and actually had her paws stretched out on to the road, but I didn't want to post any full bodied shots that would show this. However, in advancing so close to the animal it meant that I had to lean right out of my vehicle in order to get the downward angled shot of the lioness, especially because I wanted to get this facial close-up. This meant that I had to expose myself (at very short range) to the lioness. Sort of in her face type of closeness, but maybe she had a 'smell the human's breath' kind of close encounter, got intimidated, and that's why she remained all docile and calm. Of course this did not stop me from being very uneasy. Even Anna was rather uncomfortable with the situation (although all my life insurance policies is made out in her name), but adrenaline and common sense normally don't mix well and obviously you can see the result of the shot. Take note, this was done with the small Sony and not with the long Sigma lens, just so you fully comprehend the impulsive audacity of the scenario and realise the closeness of the shot. Fortunately the Sony has Image Stabilising which obviously helped a bit, because I think I was probably shaking a fair bit at this moment. The frame as you see it is exactly as it came out of the camera. No cropping was done to the original photo.

Now back to the 'hedge of protection'. I hope you could identify and appreciate that I stuck to my word. I always keep something between a lion and myself just in case that feline suddenly gets the smell of food or the thought of a mid-day snack. CLEARLY YOU CAN SEE THE BLADES OF GRASS I KEPT BETWEEN THE LIONESS AND ME, JUST TO ENSURE I HAD ADEQUATE PROTECTION.

Post Processing was done with Adobe Photoshop CS2.

nellyemh, Dis. Ac., valy67, boreocypriensis, Miss_Piggy, Alex99, jaycee, Luis52, joey, Jamesp, bobcat08, gannu, horia, vanderschelden, oscarromulus, CeltickRanger, haraprasan, marhowie, Dyker, uleko, eng55, eqshannon, Rehanna, manyee, Aaltjie, Tamrock, SelenE, ramthakur, SunToucher, Adanac, peter_stoeckl, betsie has marked this note useful
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To ramthakur: Kitty & Hubbyloot 1 05-03 00:23
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Critiques [Translate]

WOW! Loot, what amazing writing skills you have. And photography skills as well! Don't be too hard on yourself - this is a breathtaking shot and contains all the elements of professional photography I can only dream of. Your story had me sitting on the edge of my seat. It's a good thing your wife didn't know you'd write it, or perhaps she might have pushed you out of the vehicle while you teetered on the edge with your camera. lol! Anyway - I love the shot, details, color, comp, framing (even like the little blades of grass...your "hedge," as it were). Oh, and I think I can see your vehicle in the reflection of her eye. Best - Penny

Hello Loot,

Excellent close-up of this lioness. I like the way you cropped the picture. Great sharpness and colours.

Hello Loot,

What a great close u from the Lion.
Exeptional inmage and sharpness with beautiful look on the eyes.


Hello Loot !
Wow, this must have been so impressive to meet this wonderful animal ! Must have been a great moment ! I envy you so much ! And you brought bac a splendid picture. Amazing sharpness and details, as we could almost count his little hairs, but well, I think I don't have enough time fot this ! :-) I also love his intense look, with these big yellow eyes, and of course everything else is absolutely perfect : composition, POV, colors, eye contact, etc... Very well done !

Hello Loot,
Superb portrait of this beautiful big cat, lion with innocent facial expression.
Your note is also excellent as usual.
Thanks for sharing this beauty and your opinions on the animal conservation my friend!


Hallo Loot
If I was not in the car with you the day you took this shot, I certainly would have accused you of telling a fib with your description of how close you were to this lioness. I actually think that if you reached out a little more, you could have stroked her head.
This shot is so close as close can be, and that is VERY close. This is a very captivating image, with plenty of fine details to appreciate. Only an excellent and talented photographer like yourself can produce a high standard image like this one. Maybe she sensed it as well, because it looks as if she is comfortable with you so close nearby. Looking at the eyes it feels as if it is following you. No matter where you focus on the image, your eyes tend to move back to make eye contact with the lioness. Just look at the clarity of the single piece of hair just above the right eye. The rest of the fur is short, but your focus is so sharp that one can pick up this one long hair between the rest. The fly on the forehead and the short black whiskers are also well seen. Excellent point of view and beautiful golden tones. I like the way you have filled the frame, making the details more superb, especially the colour and shape of the eyes. I enjoyed reading your note and found the humour that you portray in the story quite comical. Much appreciated. Congratulations, this one deserves a round of applause.

Hi Loot. Herman Swanepoel hier. Ek het nou net hierdie site raakgeloop en op jou naam afgekom (glad nie verbasend nie - met jou liefde vir natuur en fotografie!). ek het self so 'n paar weke terug leeus afgeneem en sal so een of twee opsit. Lewer gerus kommentaar. Groetnis.

PS - as jy enige raad het oor hoe om die site ordentlik te benut sal ek dit waardeer.

PS 2 - spesiale foto met die close-up wat die detail van die hare en littekens wys. Ek neem aan jy het die kleur bietjie opgetrek met CS2 - met haar pupille so klein was die lig waarskeinlik skerp.

hello loot,
what a shot, the eye contact looks great, excellent composition, this closeup is really a good one, the details captured are very good,
tfs & regards

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2008-04-26 8:41]

Hi Loot.
What an interesting decision to crop and frame image by this way. Amazing choice and very impressive picture. You have allowed us to look into its internal world. Amazing reproduction of all charming features of the lioness. Bravo.

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2008-04-26 9:40]

Hi Loot,

Even though you were so close to the Lion very few of us could have managed this shot. Absolutely amazing - those eyes will haunt me for a while. Your notes are equally fantastic - you are an excellent story teller.


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  • Luis52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1175 W: 8 N: 4240] (15809)
  • [2008-04-26 10:07]

Hi Loot.
Verdaderamente una foto muy hermosa. El color de sus ojos y todas esas cicatrices en su cara se muestran de una manera exelente. La nota escrita es tambien una experiencia que muchos de nosotros quisieramos vivir algun dia, y poder sentir que el corazon quiere salirse del pecho por estar tan cerca de deste Leon.
Gracias por compartir la foto y la nota escrita.

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-04-26 13:12]

Exceptional abstract shot of this Lion's face!
The eye-contact here is very striking!
Amazing amount of detail and superb sharpness.
Nice natural colours and light.
Very well done Loot!


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  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2008-04-26 13:16]

Hi Loot

Excellent close up shot. The detail is superb and the crop excellent - sometimes the surroundings help you make great shots you woldn't normally think of - as here.


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  • Amadeo Gold Star Critiquer [C: 168 W: 0 N: 755] (3323)
  • [2008-04-26 14:28]

Hola Loot, buen primer plano con excelentes detalles, tan cerca la leona yo no seria capaz de fotografiar. Un saludo y gracias por compartir tus sentimientos de ese momento.

Hello Loot,

I read your notes like a book. Marvelous. But that eyecontact. Pffffffffffffffffff.....You have courage my friend. Maybe it's good that the Sony has Image Stabilising (-: What a razorsharp photo. When you take a good look to its nose you can see a wound, just left of the little green grassblade. POV and DOF are good. Natural colours.

A superb portrait of this beautiful big cat.

Have a nice day and TFS BOB

Hi Loot,
Once again a photograph with an impact.Im really glad you had the grass for protection, that must have made the situation a lot safer!Excellent sharpness and detail....like a geographical map on the lioness head.One wonders what she is thinking with those eyes staring straight at you.Great shot and TFS.

  • Great 
  • gannu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 988 W: 4 N: 3277] (14761)
  • [2008-04-27 8:00]

Hello Loot, WOW what a close look at the eyes. hmm terrific effect. Superb view and sharp focus. Ganesh

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  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2008-04-27 9:19]

Hi Loot

This is a truly magnificent close-up, but also a fantastic story!
I'm sure the feeling is absolutely like nothing else :)

The shot you managed to come back with is also terrific and the facial expression you got is surreal! The details are exceptional and the look in her eyes is breathtaking!
Good that you still had those blades of grass to protect you :)) You should always carry a bunch with you in your pocked...just in case you get to arid lands sometimes :))

Take care and best wishes to both Anna and you

Congrtas, Loot.
Impressive photo. Close encounter and razorsharp.
Definitely a winner.
Eyes are amazing! Like the few grasses in the corner as well...

WHAT AN ADVENTURE.!!! Awesome!!!
The image is OUTSTANDINGLY great!!!
I'd 'diarrhea' in my pants.
Mario with friendly greetings.
P.S. When I first saw the image I could NOT understand the title.... had to read it. Beautiful notes.

Hi Loot,
Thank you very much for liking my 250th and the wishes. A lovely closeup capture of this beautiful lioness brrrrrrrrrrrr. Excellent composition and sharp details. Thanks a lot for sharing.

Hi Loot
The eyes are dramatic here mf, clear & sharp..A bit of catchlight too.
A most imtimate composition that gives a look into the animals innermost being..And you were very close, too close for comfort it seems..And she seems in total command of the situation..Ain't that the way it goes ;}
Very nice work,

hello Loot

WOW ! what a great very very close shot of this lioness,
what a great and lovely glance on you, excellent luminosity
of the image with density of the colours, great sharpness
and details, beautiful eyes, i love to see that green grass
that is doing excellent contrast with the lion's colour, TFS


  • Great 
  • Dyker Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 136 W: 0 N: 57] (170)
  • [2008-04-28 7:21]

Hello Loot
Good golly. Any closer and she did have a snack for lunch without having to go and get the snack. Have you lost your marbles? It is one thing for a lion not to isolate a human from the vehicle, but don't forget that the safe ruling also say that you should not stand up or detach yourself from the vehicle. I'm not sure how much hanging outside your car and shoving your camera down the lioness' eye would qualify for this, but it just gave me the goose-bumps reading about it. We'd rather see less interesting photos than reading about your demise. Don't miss understand me, this is a very neat photo. I'm not even going to go into the details it's all mentioned above. I have not seen one critiquer that was not impressed with the photo or the story line (well at least those who have read it). I think it's clear, so am I.

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  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2008-04-28 7:37]

Hello Loot,
Wow, this looks a bit too close for comfort!! I don't think she liked the look of you so you're lucky she didn't snatch your camera!:-)
Interesting to see the details in this very fine close-up. I like the colour of the fur too. Well done!
Many thanks and regards, Ulla

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  • eng55 Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1256 W: 42 N: 1976] (5892)
  • [2008-04-28 9:51]

Excellent close up.Details and eye contact are amazing.
Very well done!

believe it or not I understand completely. It is what I call a frame of reference...back in San Fran during the old hippie Days a group called "The Diggers" used to give out food to run aways and homeless by choice ...and they had this door frame which the leaned against a tree. The called it a "free frame of reference". Now if I know what your talking about then maybe you will understand what they meant...as I did...completely...and so it is and here you are to post th image as well...isn't that adrenaline wonderful afterwards however?:-)

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  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2008-04-29 0:04]

My dear friend, you are totally OUT of your mind! Haha...
I can say haha because obviously you made it back to tell the tale!
Having said that, WOW... What an incredible shot!
A once-in-a-lifetime kind of shot!
Quite a rare perspective of this formidable beast.
I also greatly enjoyed your narrative.
TFS. : )

Hello Loot

O vrek, dit lyk my jy is so bietjie van 'n kans vatter. Ek sien egter Anna korrigeer jou aangesien jy soos 'n tipiese man die ernstigheid van die saak wil verklein. Jong 'n leeu of dan 'n leeuin is nie 'n ding om mee te speel nie. Ek besef dat jy dit sekerlik ook terdeŽ besef en aangesien ek nie daar was nie kan ek nie oordeel nie want jy het tog sekerlik gevoel of gedink dat jy die situasie onder beheer het. Ek weet egter van baie gevalle waar mense so gedink het en vandag is hulle slegs 'n gedagte. Dat die eindproduk 'n manjefieke stukkie kamera werk is, is nie te betwyfel nie. Kyk net daardie oŽ en die fynste besonderhede van die gesig. Die storie lees soos 'n spannings verhaal tot by die laaste lyntjie van die kwansuis meer as voldoende beskerming wat die grassies jou gebied het. Pragtig man, pragtig.


  • Great 
  • Janice Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3277 W: 148 N: 6163] (18832)
  • [2008-04-29 4:00]

Your notes surprised me - I thought that the lions would take one look at you and roll over like a kitten and ask you to tickle their tummy!!
WOW, you are close Loot - and what a battle worn face he has. See the look in his eyes - I can see you in them - well maybe! Those blades of grass were protecting him from you - you sure had him fooled.
Good one Loot

Hallo my friend
I think I am a few years your senior and I think I can tell you that I think you have lost your marbles. Are you bonkers or what? Did you eat some of that "malpitte" that you and Manyee talked about some time ago? Did you go bananas? Sorry my friend by I am feeling quite like a war ship going to battle. Did you think on the consequences if that lioness snapped at you and bit of your hand? What would of happened if your attention was so much at this lioness and you did not see or hear the one creeping up to you? If you dropped your fancy and expensive camera? My stomach is making all kinds of butterflies, no butterflies are pretty things, would I rather say my stomach is making all kinds of mosquito swirls and curls and is pricking me all the time? Remember you are not a young bloke anymore, and you cannot react with a dash of speed like you would of have been able to do 5 or so years ago.

Ok! I'll in all probability not be in your good books for a while for saying all of that. But heck man, don't take chances like that, especially with your wife in the car. I am sure you want to get old with her. Ė Remember what happened to Steve Irwan?

Ok! I must admit, it is a good photograph. The smiley goes for the excellent shot, and not for the brave effort.

Warmest regards

hi loot!
A very exciting note to this fine
and close pic on a mighty and beautiful
good work!

  • Great 
  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2008-05-01 0:38]

Hi Loot,
Funny story, your notes are great :o)))) It's a very original portrait of this kitten (sorry-lion :o) Very well composed with a great POV. Details are beautiful. Very good work! TFS
Keep yourself safe :o)

Those piercing eye's are very intimidating and command respect enough to have plucked a couple of those blades of grass to use for a weapon to defend oneself. "Back kitty, I say back!", might even pass off for cat nip, which would probably be a bad idea. Excellent shot Loot. TFS
Paul :)

Your story is the main thing here, Loot; the picture is only the supplement to it, ha,ha,ha!
Anyway, both are first rate by way of entertainment and education rolled into one.

On a serious note, I think you were too close to the lioness. The picture proves you were literally breathing down her nose. Thank God, she was not hungry when you did this, otherwise . . .

I am serious about offering Anna some advice on how to keep her foolhardy man under tabs so that next time when I see his lion/lioness picture, there is more than just a blade of grass between him and his subject(s).

But then the picture you have snatched literally off the face of a lioness is so very unique, different, unusual, extraordinary, immaculate, incomparable, original, impossibly real (and so on) that even if we had to lose our The Loot in the process of procuring it, the world would still be richer with this kind of picture in its kitty.
I hope I did not offend you by writing all this stuff, but, believe me, all of us here on TN care for you.
Best regards and keep well,

Hi Loot - Wat 'n fantastiese foto. Ek kon nie wag om by die werk te kom om vir jou punte te gee vir hierdie een nie. Ek het dit oor die naweek by die huis al gesien, maar kon nie kritiek nie omdat ek nie my password by die huis het nie. (Ek gaan dit so los, want ek gebruik nogal baie tyd op treknature - "hooked on it" - ek gaan nog fotos neem!) Ek het jou notas verskriklik baie geniet! :-) Elke keer dink ek jy het nou die beste foto geplaas, dan kom jy met iets beter!! - Well done Loot.

Hi Loot, the eyes you captured here are truly amazing. They hold you captive with thier gaze. Love the details in the fur like the fly etc. Very well done.

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2008-05-07 21:44]

Hello Loot

The eye detail and contact is amazing.The look is intense.
Wonderful lighting and colours.
The POV is incredible.
Great texture in this lion's fur.
Masterful camera work.


Hi Loot,
I've seen many lion photos on this site. I've seen some taken from a very close distance, but those were taken in a zoo. I've never seen a photo of a wild lion that filled the frame such as this one. It is an awesome picture to look at. It is the first time, for me, to see this kind of detail. To see the scars and even a fly is beautiful. The intens look of the eyes impresses me the most. What a very beautiful capture.

  • Great 
  • Adanac Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
  • [2008-05-14 21:26]

Hello Loot,
You have great faith in Anna's love for you, and it must be well founded. You see with Anna as the beneificiary of your fully paid life insurance, you leaning out over a large excited cat and Anna being ever so close to you in the vehicle, well you see what I mean. All kidding aside this is an incredible capture, which obviously took some knowledge of your subject but also some bravery to capture. The details are extrordinary, you can even see a fly feeding on the blood on her fur. The eyes are what captivate me, the color is amazing. Thanks for this wonderful piece of work Loot.

Dear Loot,
my goodness, diving deeply into the fur of that wild lioness at touching distance really gives me a kick!
Exciting, very unusual, stirring.
Maybe some of our experts here on TN could identify that small fly enjoying the warmth on the lioness' forehead?
Thank you! My best regards,

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