We went to a talk by Doug Allan (one of the key BBC cameramen for Planet Earth etc) last night in Manchester and he pointed out how humbling it is to stare in another animal’s eyes, and interestingly that *we* are usually the ones to break away (if you’re single or a man, you know what I mean) – a silverback gorilla stares at you, and you look away until you feel enough time has elapsed that you’re settled internally and can build up confidence / reduce fear to maintain eye contact.
Once you get there, you bristle from head to toe with emotion. You settle into a trance, you watch the tiny movements, you try so hard to *keep* the contact and not let your partner drift away; you flirt, in a way. Sometimes – sometimes – you even stop firing the shutter.
As you’d expect, the experience is better in smaller groups, ideally pairs, ideally alone, ideally without a vehicle or other obstacles, just you, the wildlife, and a bottle of Château Pétrus. It doesn’t – perhaps shouldn’t – be a lion, perhaps better not since lion are often asleep and uninteresting to watch. But find their eyes, don’t be afraid to lock gaze, and see what you feel.
(Make what you wish of the title.) This is the whole image as captured, no crop. Fair enough it’s at 400mm on APS-C; according to the image details this means the distance from the lioness is 3.8m. (is this a new thing in Windows 8?) That sounds about right. She was in the shadow of the vehicle for much of the time, so pretty close.