Vicki Santello

Camera: Canon R5

Lens: RF 24-105 f/4

Aperture: f/4

Shutter speed: 1/250

ISO: 10000

Description: A lion cub diverts from his mother's watchful eye to climb up and play on the stump of a tree.

Story from behind the lens: I was up before dark every day in order to arrive at an open grassy area where the Offbeat Pride slept. They were rarely accessible except for brief periods of time because, each morning at dawn , the lionesses of the pride would escort the numerous cubs of the creche to the safety of a densely bushed hilltop. My goal was to capture unique behavior as the pride marched to their destination. There were significant challenges to get compelling images : tall grass, low light and the tendency of the pride to stick together. One day, however, this sassy little cub defied the lionesses by running up a tree stump to play! I immediately recognized that he solved the issue of the tall grass for me in one bound. When he turned to face the light I fired off a burst of images to highlight the light in his eyes , his muddy paws and his playful posture. I intentionally shot a wide angle to include the environment and the textures in the tree as part of the story of this special moment.