Anatomy of a Photo #26: The Sea Lion Snarls

The sea lion wasn't really snarling, just taking a breath. Looks convincing though, doesn't it?

This is another image, showing the rewards of kayak photography. I must say though, this was one of the few times I have been nervous while kayaking near wildlife. It wasn’t the teeth so much, as the proximity of this very, vary large and potentially aggressive marine mammal that was bigger than my kayak swimming around me.

I did not approach it, it swam towards me, in what I was hoping was simple curiosity. I try not to approach marine mammals in my kayak- first it is illegal, second, you can stress them out unneccessarily, and third and best of all, they are often curious and will approach closer if you let them do the approaching. This time though, I was the one made nervous by the nearness of the approach.

The sea lion would surface near me, making these chuffing noises as it would surface, blowing water out of its mouth. It circled me half way, examining me, deciding my fate, going under and resurfacing several times. Would it knock my kayak over dumping me in my camera? Would it try to climb on the kayak, flipping it, and dumping me and my camera? In the end- No.

It was very exciting, and even in my nervousness I took all of the pictures I could. Focusing anew as it changed its distance from me. I used a longer lens, even though it was almost close enough that a shorter lens would have done very well to give landscape and scenery as well as the beast. Because it was sunny I was able to shoot fairly fast.

For composition… my main goal was to get as much of the visible animal in the frame as possible at one time. When you are this close the rule of thirds is harder to apply as something is nearly always centered, and something is nearly always at a third, but even more important is not cutting something out because you are worried about where one third is.

You can see this Sea Lion not snarling on the post The Sea Lion’s Tongue


About Galen Leeds Photography

Nature and wildlife photographer, exploring the world on his feet and from his kayak. Among other genres, he is one of the leading kayak photographers in Northern California. To learn more about him, visit him on his website-
This entry was posted in Anatomy of a photo, How to, kayak photography, marine life, nature photography, photography, wildlife photography and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Anatomy of a Photo #26: The Sea Lion Snarls

  1. Elisa Michelle says:

    Very intimidating! But I love how close you got to his face. It’s just great.

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