Lyin’ King: Here’s Why You’ve Gotta Be Ready for Anything as a Wildlife Photographer

©Diana Robinson

And now for something completely different from the world of wildlife.

Minutes before Diana Robinson made this adorable photo in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, she was concentrating her efforts on the female members of a pride of lions chasing down a Cape buffalo. That scene changed quickly when nearby Cape buffalos came together in defense of the lions’ target and made a charge of their own.

The four female lions scattered in the face of the buffalos’ ferocity, and the male members of the pride, watching close by, got the message: no dinner tonight.

“That’s how it works,” Robinson says. “The females do all the work, then the males come and eat—but not this time.”

The four males of the pride dealt with their disappointment by lying down, and the one you see in this photo stretched out to snooze. When he rolled over on his back next to a swamp lily, Robinson got what she calls “a lucky shot.”

Lucky, maybe—I mean, who ever sees the lion lie down with the lily and then gets a chance to photograph it?—but because luck favors the prepared, Robinson was pretty much ready for whatever photo opportunity was going to present itself that afternoon.

She’d been photographing the lions’ pursuit of the Cape buffalo through the popped top of a Land Cruiser safari vehicle when the rapid reversal of fortune took place, and so she was able to quickly capture a king of the jungle in…well, let’s say a less than regal attitude.

“My shutter speed was set for the fast action of the chase, so I was ready when this happened.” Her fast-action speed is 1/1250 second, and her long lens was steadied by a beanbag’s support on the Land Cruiser’s roof. The camera was also set for auto ISO operation to ensure the shutter speed remained fast enough for photo safari shooting; her baseline shutter speed for auto ISO is 1/640 second.

“It was late afternoon, and it was hot,” Robinson says, summing up the day’s events. “Lions don’t usually try to take anything down in the heat of the afternoon—their time is usually in the morning—so it was a pretty crazy thing all around.”

A variety of wildlife and travel images is featured at Diana Robinson’s website,, along with a link to a blog that offers first-person accounts of some of her photographic travels and adventures.

Tech Talk: Diana Robinson made the shot with a Nikon D500 fitted with an AF-S Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens. The camera’s settings were 1/1250 second, f/13, ISO 2000, manual exposure, and Matrix metering.