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'King of the Beasts' for Gert

'King of the Beasts' for Gert
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: 2009-10-16
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC HX1, Sony G lens 20x Optical zoom, Digital ISO 125
Exposure: f/4.5, 1/50 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Travelogue: Kruger National Park - 2009
Theme(s): Great cats - Grandes felinos, Mammals of Southern Africa II, A study in Mammalogy (mammals) 1, Dedications at Trek Nature, 80-89 Points I, Kruger National Park 2, Dedications to Gert, Big Cats, My Dedications ;o), CeltickRanger's favorite African animal photos 2 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2009-12-12 0:43
Viewed: 7034
Favorites: 2 [view]
Points: 80
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Lion - Panthera leo

This 'King of the Beasts' dedication I want to deliver to our dear friend, mentor, and expert photographer Mr. Gert Ellstrom (ellis49), simply because Gert was, is, and remains one of the main "king"pins of the TrekNature site. Gert joined the site only 3 days after its inception (on 22/07/2004) and remained an active member through most of the time since then. A couple of times I have seen when Gert was ready to pack it all up, especially so when he was troubled and living in pain due to the problem with his wrists, but his love for the site came through every time and it was only a matter of time before we saw another classic piece of Ellstrom magic hitting the gallery.

Gert, this is my small way of saying thanks for all you have meant and done for me and all the other members whom you have touched or influenced in one way or another. You are a source of inspiration for all of us and I am proud to be able to call you MY FRIEND.

This "prime" young male lion was captured late one afternoon at the "Matukwala dam", halfway through the Mahonie Loop circling around the Punda Maria rest camp.

Anna (Miss_Piggy) have mentioned in her posting of the Lion - #4 of the BIG 5 that I will tell you the story behind these images. Probably it is a story that shouldn't be told, but this happened outside of our control so I'll just try and tell it as it took place.

We stopped at the small loop at the empty and dry Matukwala dam and immediately noticed 3 lions, ±150m away from us. There were 2 males and 1 female so I assume they were probably in the lengthy process of mating. Because they were quite far away we couldn't capture any images that were really worth it. It was only a couple of heads sticking out between all the grass and twigs that obscured the view.

There was another vehicle (facing us) parked at the spot. The driver suddenly asked if we would like to see those lions from up close. Not knowing what his intentions were or what his imminent actions would be I immediately answered to the affirmative. Suddenly I heard a lion roar, right close by, but for a moment I couldn't figure out where the sound came from as those lions lying in the grass most definitively wasn't the source of the sound. Then I realised the sound actually came from the other vehicle and before I could say "kill-that-fly" the one male lion was up and hastily made his way towards us to investigate and possibly defend his territory. Lions do have the distinguishing ability to identify the roar of a strange lion and they would viciously defend their own territories.

Upon his arrival, at our vehicles, the lion immediately started to circle our cars obviously searching for the intruding lion. Not finding any "other" lion it was clear that this graceful, yet intimidating and clearly annoyed feline was rather perplexed and puzzled by the situation. A couple of times it came right up next to the car, looking us straight into the eyes, only to continue its circling search again. Now you know why Anna had her windows all closed up tight – don't worry, mine too. While continuing its search the lion would stop from time to time; lie down for a while, only to stand up again and probingly persisted to look around trying to find the intruding lion. Still he did not find any "other" lion to vent his frustration. In between all this the person in the other vehicle would intermittently replay the sound track of a roaring lion. Every time this young lion would reply with an equally impressive burst of roars and grunts. Enough to make the hearing sensitive loose their ability to observe any sound. As Anna mentioned in her notes: "Lions make it very clear who's the boss: males stake out territory with a deafening roar that can be heard through the African night for up to 8 kilometres". Thus, sitting 2m away from a roaring lion does something to your ears and bowels as the din far exceeds the levels of pleasure to the ears. It is a most impressive experience to say the least and the intimidation factor surely makes it a memorable moment that far outlasts the "pain" (discomfort) to the ears. The experience of Africa "at its very best"!

Eventually this lion came and laid down right next to our car (±2m away) and it seemed like it was at the point of "surrender". This "other" ghost or invisible lion was one too much for this guy. By that time I gathered enough nerve to open my windows again to get some clear shots, not distorted or discoloured by the "impure" glass of the Nissan Tiida's windows. I sat for an extended period with my camera focussed on this guy (until my arms eventually grew tired) in anticipation of a nice big roar so I could capture this beast in the process. But, as fate would have it, just the very moment I dropped my arms and camera, this guy let rip with another mighty roar, but needles to say it was all too late. Another opportunity missed due to fatigue and impatience.

WARNING: PLAYBACK OF A CALL TO EVOKE AN ANIMAL'S REACTION COULD BE DANGEROUS. IT CAN ALSO CAUSE THE ANIMAL DISTRESS. With that said, I want to stress that it is certainly not wise or ethical to do this kind of thing, although I must confess that at the time I probably was guilty to "go with the flow". However, I never foresaw or realised the implications or result.

Post Processing was done with Adobe Photoshop CS2

PeterZ, ellis49, ramthakur, anel, horias, xTauruSx, goatman04, eng55, robindb, boreocypriensis, uleko, meyerd, albert, manyee, Noisette, Miss_Piggy, maurydv, CeltickRanger, anemone, jaycee, Rehanna, zulfu, Heaven, marhowie, tuslaw, betsie, mlines, horia, chrisruth, Mamagolo2, Alex99 has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2009-12-12 1:07]

Hello Loot,
What a story! Amazing, once in a lifetime.
You made the most of the chance you got here to make a photo like this. Fantastic! The eye in eye contact on this low POV is incredible. The warm colours are splendid. Excellent sharpness and a great composition. A masterpiece!
Have a good weekend,

Ciao Loot, great capture of superb king, splendid sharpness and good details, wonderful light and colors, very well done, have a good week end, ciao Silvio

Hallo Loot,
thanks for this great dedication and for your fine words, I'm very touched. I have always returned to TN after some "times out",
the biggest reasons I have friends like you here, I remember you once wrote to me, "you have TN in your blood" and you are right.
And I'm also very proud to call you my friend.
The picture of the King is great, it's well composed with fine pose of the cat. The eye contact is great maybe he saw you as a prey. ;-).
It's also well exposed with nice and natural colours. And the note is as usual well written and very informative, it was a fantastic story
I hope sometimes in the future be able to visit SA and KNP to see this cat in reality.
Great work old friend.

These days up here are gray and dull, the daylight is really bad. But about ten days we will fly to Cyprus and stay 2 month.
I hope the sun is shining there. ;-)
I will bring a netbook PC and the hotel have wireless internet connections so I will be in-touched.

Best Regards

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2009-12-12 1:50]

Hello Loot,
A superb portrait of this 'King of Beasts' taken from a great POV in a fine regal pose. The technical quality is excellent and I like the way you took this in the shade to give the colouring a richer tone against the sunlit natural BG.
Like with Anna's photo the look of this lion is enough to put our adrenalin content up to unhealthy levels!
A great photo coupled with an intersting note explaining how this was taken.
The quality of this shot makes it a fine deserving tribute to my compatriot Gert.

Thanks and best wishes,

  • Great 
  • zetu Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 967 W: 26 N: 3888] (16941)
  • [2009-12-12 3:01]

Hello Loot
Excellent capture with natural colors and great details

Having seen Anna's version of this proud and fearless King of Animals, I can only say that you too have captured this majestic male in the most regal pose, Loot. Anna's picture did have a wee bit of noise because of the window pane, but this one taken directly (and with plenty guts) is flawless.
Thanks for sharing this great image accompanied by a captivating story of the shoot.

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2009-12-12 4:57]

Hello Loot,
I just have seen a leopard from SAfrica on TN and now a lion. What magnificent creatures you have down there!
A very impressive encounter and what a story behind. And you have caught this male lion in all its majesty and perfectely sharp. I don't know if I would have had a unshaky hand in that moment, in fact I wouldn't have opened the window..
Vave a nice weekend Anna and you
Kind regards

  • Great 
  • horias Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 837 W: 58 N: 2084] (11033)
  • [2009-12-12 6:12]

What a sharp capture!
I like the natural colors of the lion!
Wonderful colors and light!

Beautiful work MF Loot!
Inspiring capture, the details and focus look incredible. Words cannot describe this shot, it is simply perfect.
TFS and have a nice WE!


This is a gigantic cat, Loot, I like the eye-to-eye contact. Amazing shot, excellent work, thanks and greetings
Sabine - wishnugaruda

Hello Loot,
Great shot of magnificent lion from nice point of view.
TFS and regards,

Hello Loot,

This is really a great story to read and I hope that your hearing sense is back up to normal and the bowels...eh eh...you know!

An excellent capture with such wild beauty, colors & composition. Very well taken & presented. TFS & best compliments.


  • Great 
  • eng55 Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1256 W: 42 N: 1976] (5892)
  • [2009-12-12 12:53]

Hi Loot,
Excellent capture of this young lion.Iliked low level POV,eye contact,use of light and composition a lot.Have a great weekend!
Thanks for posting..

Hi Loot,

A wonderfull photo of this king showing his power and alertness in this situation. The background also shows the African bushveld vegetation that we love so much.
I have heard of people playing sounds to attract animals attention and as you say this is unethical and can be dangerous. You could maybe also tell viewers what the official stance is from the Parks Board's point of view. Would they take action against people doing this?



  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2009-12-13 1:55]

Hello Loot,
A perfect view of this Lion in a fine pose and with great eye contact! It's hard to imagine seeing it in the wild at such close range. Excellent focus showing sharp details and beautiful light and colours. Interesting to read your note too! I thought these lions were pretty used to cars in the Kruger Park but this event sounds scary!
TFS and best wishes, Ulla

Howzit Loot,
Actually I was thinking of placing that "monkey pic" in my passport for my next trip.... that should confuse our great customs lot!!
Sounds like an interesting encounter that was.Great head on portrait of this confident meneer, and the body language tells it all.Pin sharp image with outstanding detail and natural bushveld as BG.

Hello Loot,
a great story that goes with a high- class picture of a male lion observing you attentively before roaring. You did'nt roar back by any chance? :-) What touches me most is your great dedication of the picture to Gert. I was surprised to learn that you do your work now with a compact camera.
My best regards from snown-in Switzerland

Hello Loot,
What an experience you had!!
Great capture of the majestic stand of this young male lion he is really promising to be a great king

Yikes, beautiful but scary!Confronted like this I would very slowly wind up the car window, just in case, then I would get a bit braver , slowly wind it down again and take as many photos as possible before the moment is lost forever. You obviously got the right moment, well done on a fantastic photo. Having just come back from Kruger myself I know that it is often a case of being at the right place at the right time, and you got it just right!

  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2009-12-13 10:54]

His Royal Highness!
What a portrait, Loot.
I read your story, and though I deplore the trick used by the guy in the other vehicle, I guess it afforded you a fantastic shot.
The POV couldn't have been better. What a magnificent specimen of a young adult male. The mane is impressive... and the eye contact is amazing. I feel captured by that stare and cannot take my own eyes away.
TFS. : )

Hello Loot
after the post of Anna, i am waiting of your shot from the king of the animals, for read the full story,
this lion have a very great pose and a impressiv look, superb details even throught a car window
wonderful dedication for a brilliant photographer
Have a good night

Hallo Loot
Thanks for sharing this superb image as part of a dedication to a mutual friend Gert Ellstrom. Looking at the proud posture of this imposing animal there is no doubt that this is indeed the king of the animals, and your excellent photography has brought out all the royal characteristics of this gorgeous cat to its best.

The superior pose in which you have captured this male, is most appraisable taking in consideration the "thrilling and adrenaline pumping" circumstances in which the photograph was taken. The look in the animal's eyes speaks for itself and looking at it makes me feel sorry in a way. It has a mixture of frustration, disbelieve and a bit of sorrow in it.

As a whole this is a superb image with lots of details captured and shown to their best. It is only an experienced photographer that can capture big and small details in one image and show it like it is seen for real. Small things like the dot on the forehead, the catch-light in the eyes, the hair standing up straight on the lions head and the swing in the tail is all things that easily can be missed, but it is captured and seen so well. Like always it was a privilege to visit your gallery and stop by this great image. Thanks also for the way you tell the story, making me wanting to read more and more. Love

Hello Loot
Your Lion is a wonderful dedication to Gert. You captured a proud looking Lion so well. I love the soft lighting and vegetation in the background. Lovely detail and composition.
TFS Janice

  • Great 
  • NinaM Gold Star Critiquer [C: 773 W: 3 N: 1157] (4077)
  • [2009-12-14 18:24]

Well, I agree with you Loot, it's not very ethical and I don't think I would have enjoyed having this car close to mine either. Yet, your story is incredible and I didn't know that the roar of a lion was deafening like this, really. It amazes me and I understand now why it is the king of animals! And the picture you show us is amazing, so beautiful and "true", not like the lions we see in movies, just a lions with scars, missing its crown of hair around the head, it seems. He is a young male, isn't he? The strength of its body and legs amaze me, what a huge animal! Thank you for this story, I will remember it ;-) Lucky you and Anna!


Amamzing! Looks like the lion is measuring us, and sends a chill through the spine. Although you have narrated it as a semi-staged one... :~))

Hello Loot,

What an impressive eye contact!!! I like the fact that he is standing up in the shadow. The only thing maybe is that the fur looks a little bit noisy...

But what a splendid encounter! He looks very proud and has all the reasons to be that way :-)



Hello Loot,
at first, thanks for your qualified WS; fantastic capture, outstanding sharpness and superb lighting, wonderful posture of the Lion, i like the excellent frontal POV and the very pleasing composition with an intesive look of this splendid animal
Best regards

hello Loot

WOW ! it is a superb photo of the king of all animals,
what brings dynamic this photo it i your POV at the lion's level
and his great glance / eye contact with you, ouf ! what a great
chance you have to see a lion in the wild and photograph it, TFS


Hi Loot.
Super shot of this beautiful lion.
You took it from great angle.
Kind rgards,

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2009-12-16 15:18]

Hi Loot,

I am sooooo envious of you and Anna for the time you can spend at Kruger. This Lion is magnificent as he stares right at the camera. The expression on his face is priceless. Wonderful colors and details, not only of his face and eyes, but the entire animal. That is quite a story and you told it very well. A perfect dedication to Gert who IS the King of TN.


  • Great 
  • zulfu Gold Star Critiquer [C: 685 W: 0 N: 2] (43)
  • [2009-12-16 23:03]

Hello Loot,
Beautiful shot of this huge and strong wild beauty. POV, details and composition are wonderful.
TFS ang R's,

  • Great 
  • waylim Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 296 W: 8 N: 489] (1765)
  • [2009-12-17 18:04]

Hi Loot,
Wow, this king is fearless, right in the middle of the road. I have seen many male lion pictures, but nothing like this one, standing straight and tall, so proud, looks like a true leader of the pride.
Great quality, love the details. Some strong light in the background but you managed it well, good contrast and natural colors. Thanks for the extensive and details note too. Say "Hi!" to Anna. Have a good day.

  • Great 
  • Heaven Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 996 W: 123 N: 2341] (7912)
  • [2009-12-17 18:43]

Dear Loot!

It's so fascinating to read your narrative notes - or shouldn't I say your story - about the history of this picture and the informations about this magnificent animal. The beauty of the animal and the picture get another, deeper dimension through your words. In a way, I feel "transported" and I'm sitting in the Nissan facing these impressive eyes. Indeed, the fact that you opened the window of the car increased the quality of the picture that is bright and clear. The closeness of the animal offers a perfect view on fine details and its characteristics.

Kind regards


  • Great 
  • Janice Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3277 W: 148 N: 6163] (18832)
  • [2009-12-17 22:48]

Kia ora Loot
Good to see you here too... And I wish you and your family a very happy CHRISTmas time too - and I don't need to remind you the remember the reason for the season :) :)

And what a lovely image to go with your notes... This poor fellow is certainly perplexed with the mighty roars from the unseen intruder... Perhaps he was looking close at YOUR beard in case it was you roaring...

Lovely sharp clear image Loot, and thank you for sharing

He looks majestic & proud Loot, nice dedication to our friend Gert.
The POV not only gives one that steely head-on stare, but displays the animals muscle tone & strength very well.
He actually looks more curious than intimidating here..
None the less, a good long focal length is highly recommended ;-}
Merry Christmas my friend!

  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2009-12-19 19:04]

Hello Loot,
I have often viewed photos from you and Anna, only to be envious of the great abundance of animals you have living in your home range. I can definately say I now feel fortunate to live in Ohio, where I can walk out in the woods anytime and anywhere and not have to worry about running into this guy.
You post a super photo of this magnificent animal, it's no wonder they are called (The King Of The Beast). The massive muscular body is very evident in this fine image. Wonderful detail, color and exposure!!! TFS.

  • Great 
  • mlines Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 556 W: 26 N: 668] (3116)
  • [2009-12-23 20:05]

Hi Loot, Good eye contact, he looks to be sizing up your running speed! A wonderful clear photo with good ccolour and details of the fur are excellent. TFS & Happy Xmas. Murray.

  • Great 
  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2009-12-26 8:26]

Hi Loot

Sorry for being a little late, but i want to take this opportunity and wish a Happy Christmas and only the best and good health for the Next Year!
As for this shot...a worth dedication for a "king" indeed :)
I'm sorry a bit to see both you and Gert posting so rarely now, but i'm afraid that even i am far less active here in comparison to the good old days.
That actually makes post like this even better and, personally, make me want to start saving money for another trip to Africa...but a bit more to the south this time :)
Very well captured photo, taken from a great POV and catching that piercing eye-contact for the extra drama.
I read your reply to Dietrich's question (as i was wondering the same, to be honest) and i'm sad to hear your were disappointed by your big lens. However this little Sony seems to do a pretty good job and i wish you (and your hip) good days with it.
The shot looks very nice and sharp...maybe actually a little too sharp on my monitor, but to be honest i don't have such a good screen as Gert so it's probably best to ask him about this.
Anyway, a very nice post from you, my friend!

Warmest regards

  • Great 
  • BrettO (16)
  • [2010-01-03 4:57]

hi and good day loot. i have come to know treknature through my brother inlaw chris who has said great things about your photography! certainly a great pic of the king of kruger!i am new to photography and seeing great photos on treknature makes me want to try and get great pics! i hope to send many more and try be more active on this great web site!

thankyou brett

Hello Loot,
WOW, what a stunning animal. The colors are splendid and good detail. I love the glint in his eyes. Truly a future king! Very well done and thanks for sharing.

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2010-01-23 22:56]

Hi, dear Loot.
Now I have a bit time to watch your amazing gallery again. This is great shot and touching dedication. The pictured animal is really King as well as our dear friend Gert. Quality of the shot is terrific in all respects. My congratulations and TFS.
P.S. I very busy all this time and have not any time for visit TN and even for photography. Sorry
P.P.S. My great AF-S Nikkor 300/F4 lens is broken and has been returned back. Now I have not telelens (:.

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