Nat Geo award-winning photographer Michael Nichols went to Tanzania in July 2011 and spent two years in the Serengeti Plain of Africa to document the real life story of the lions inhabiting the plain. The magazine features this month the lives of the Serengeti lions like never before.
"You don't want to be looking down on animals. They hate it; it is demeaning to them," the photographer said in an interview with National Geographic earlier this month. "I couldn't bear photographing lions looking down on them; it made me sick to my stomach."
Capturing the images of these predators is truly risky for the entire team but they were able to get up-close photos of them by using technology. They have used aerial drones, infrared lights, and robots. It wasn't immediately a success as they had to perform series of testings before they were able to deploy a small, remote-controlled robot, manufactured by a North Carolina-based company SuperDroid Robots, in the field to join the lions. Nichols was working with cinematographer Nathan Williamson to capture the perfect scenes. The aerial images were captured by a MikroKopter drone made in Germany. Nichols and Williamson were in a Land Rover while controlling the robot and drone from afar.
Lions sleep during the day so they had to do wait for night to come to see them in action. The team had used infrared lights which they have placed on top of the Land Rover to make the lions visible to them. It allowed them to capture natural images without disturbing the animals' regular activities, such as the picture above where a lion dubbed as 'C-boy' was caught mating with a lioness.
Nichols was able to gather 240,000 shots in his two-year stay in the Serengeti Plain with a 200-hour video footage courtesy of Nathan Williamson. See Nat Geo's 'The Serengeti Lion' online presentation here.