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News & Insight

Wildlife Photography | Getting Close and Personal With Lions

By Joseph Cha on November 25th 2013

How to get close to wild animals

It’s true that wild animals are more afraid of humans than we are of them. We must look so strange to them walking on 2 legs, dressed in weird “fur”, and smelling so peculiar, it’s no wonder they get so skiddish whenever we approach them. Photographer Chris McLennan had the idea to approach the lions he wanted to photograph with something less intimidating, so as to not frighten the lions. He built the “Car-L”, which is a small RC car with 4 wheel drive and 4 wheel steering with a Nikon D800E attached to it. And the results he got from the Car-L are nothing short of extraordinary.


Car-L in action

Before the Car-L and camera goes out, Chris sets up the lens manually, setting the focus to 1 meter and stopping down the aperture so he gets a nice deep depth of field. With this RC car/camera set up, Chris is able to approach the lions and take photos of them without frightening or scaring them off. The lions actually approached the camera, and even attempted to play with it.

wildlife photography

lion photography rc lion camera

The Results!

The lions did play rough with the Car-L, and one even ran off with it. But Chris McLennan managed to get his camera back, and the pictures he got with the Car-L were astounding. With the Car-L, Chris was able to get nice and personal with the lions, capturing a more playful side of the cat, rather than the defensive and aggressive lions we’re used to seeing.




Car-L Meets the Lions

By simply changing his approach, Chris McLennan was able to get extraordinary close ups of some of the biggest predators in the world. Have you ever tried a different approach to photography and were surprised by the results? Let us know in the comments!

[Source: Devour]


I’m a photographer and cinematographer based in Southern California. When I don’t have a camera in my face I enjoy going to the movies and dissecting the story telling and visual aesthetics.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Patricia Ko

    Interested in an future adventure with Chris Mclennan in Botswana or New Zealand? Please contact the Wildlight Safaris team via [email protected]

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  2. Wesley Rolfson

    The shots he got are amazing! I am sure the lions couldn’t help but investigate what it was. Got to be a little nerve wracking to watch it get carried away but the risk is worth the amazing photos. Gives me some ideas for my current project to capture my small town. I love creative methods of capturing your subject and I have always wanted to get into wildlife photography. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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    • Joseph

      keep us posted about your current project! Let us know what method you end up using and how the results turn out!

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