It’s not often you get the chance to see Tigers and Lions up close and personal, normally when you do it’s behind a large amount of metal and toughened glass. But sitting in your car while they walk around you is fascinating, if not a tiny bit worrying. This is not the first time I’ve been to Longleat, but it is the first time in many years.

The main reason for visiting of course was to get out and do some photography with some of my new gear. One thing I discovered (while trying not to get eaten) was that on a full frame sensor a 70-200mm lens just doesn’t really cut it for wildlife photography, at least not for these kinds of animals anyway. The main problem is you’re just not as close as you need to be to get the subject full frame. Back when I was shooting on a cropped sensor that wasn’t a problem, 200mm at the top end was effectively around 320mm on the cropped sensor, which as it turns out is probably about the minimum focal length for in these kinds of situations.

But with that said, here’s a selection of photos from our recent trip to Longleat.

Firstly, I really liked the lighting in these first two photos, the trees were creating spotlights on the ground, especially in the second one, and the tigers, well, one tiger…kept walking around under them and being lit up each time with fantastically sculpted light and shadow.

Tiger at Longleat
Stalking in the woods
Tiger at Longleat
Illuminated in the sunlight

I’m not sure what the tiger in this next shot was looking at, but whatever it was apparently it wasn’t a pleasing sight! Thankfully it didn’t turn into a full tunnel vision moment and ended with pieces of cars all over the place.

Tiger at Longleat
Anger, at what? We’ll never know.

It’s funny how many funny faces animals make, in this shot the Tiger is trying to eat some grass, you can see a blade of it on its tongue, but it really does look like it’s blowing a raspberry in both photos below. Obviously, I know that’s now the case…

Tiger at Longleat
Blowing a raspberry
Tiger at Longleat
Catch me if you can

Despite the grass, and knowing better, I still can’t quite tell if the tigers were deliberately sticking their tongues out at us, I prefer to think that they were for the simple comedy factor.

The Lions were a bit harder to find as we were driving around, all except one, which spent a lot of time sitting by the road in the long grass. No matter how many cars went past, there was barely any recognition, she just kept sitting there, staring into space (or possibly where the food is stored).

Lion at Longleat
Watching and waiting

So after lockdowns and a lot of staying at home it was nice to go outside and see something you don’t normally see especially seeing some of these animals in their (almost) natural environment is a breath of fresh air. And of course, it’s always nice to produce some nice images at the same time.

Posted in: Photography