Robert Henderson's picture

Sunset Marley 2

Farewell to Marley, one of the famous "Lion Kings of the Serengeti" for over seven years. Marley and his brother Bob Jr. were killed in March 2023, in separate attacks by a coalition of rival males trying to take over their pride.

Marley was a Black Maned African Lion whose sire was the famous, original Bob Marley. He formed a coalition with his brother, Bob Jr. and together ruled a very large pride with many females and cubs. Marley was the matinee idol handsome member of the coalition. His home range was in the Central Area of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, near the Namiri Plains Camp.

There was a full moon on this particular November evening, and we had been following the brothers in hopes of capturing them against the rising moon. It turned out the better view by far was simply taking advantage of the amazing light at the end of the sunset. The moon provided a silvery secondary light source for Marley's open mouth yawn.

A special thank you goes to Namiri Plains guide Anderson Mwampashe, who patiently tracked the lions all day and into the evening with me looking for the perfect shot.

I took the image with a Canon EOS R6 with an EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM extender lens, handheld. It was getting pretty dark, right at the limit of the capabilities of my camera and lens. The exposure settings were 1/800 sec at f/5.6, ISO 25,600, 394 mm, hand-held (and breath held). Taken November 9, 2022.

Canon R6
394mm · f/5.6 · 1/800 sec · ISO 25600
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Outstanding shot…stunning! Can you tell me how you managed the noise at 25k+ ISO? Topaz?

Hi Almaz,

Many thanks!

About the noise......it was a struggle!

The lens I primarily use for wildlife and birds is a Canon 200-400 mm lens with a built-in 1.4 teleconverter. I absolutely love this magnificent lens, but it's heavy, and I definitely need to keep the shutter speed at twice the focal length. Most of the time I use it hand-held whilst in a vehicle with a bean bag if the shot permits, or bracing the lens on my knee if it doesn't.

I was hoping with the in camera IBIS system in the R6 I would have more latitude, but I still need to set the shutter speed at between 1/800 and 1/1250 for decent results. I usually leave the camera set to Auto ISO. Because it was getting so dark, I didn't much choice with the 25,600 ISO setting. I was already taking a chance with the 1/800 shutter speed. I also knew better than to attempt the shot with the teleconverter engaged.With the 394 mm focal length I had to crop the image significantly to compose it the way I wanted.

To process the image I used Lightroom, Topaz Denoise AI, Topaz Sharpen AI, Topaz Gigapixel, and Photoshop 2023. (I find I get much better results from using the Topaz programs separately than using the new, much more automatic Topaz Photo AI program - although I always give the new program a try, just to see how it looks before starting in with the individual programs.)

The editing process was iterative, and I have a whole folder full of .tif files that I created each time a bounced from one program to the next.
(I like having a backup in case I change my mind or something doesn't work out as expected.)

At the end, I was pleased with the image, but I would have been happier if I could have started with a larger RAW image file with less noise!

Thanks again for your kind words. It's nice to be able to discuss the editing process.


Bob Henderson

Thanks so much for the detailed reply. I have always been a reluctant digital photo editor.

I have multiple full suites of editing software but until recently only used them mostly for enhancing an image, not fixing an image. I would just put up with a certain amount of noise and lament how so many other photographers were producing such clean images with low light, high ISOs, and drastic cropping.

That is until earlier this year when I discovered I had the full Topaz suite and had never used it. Since I had just upgraded to a full R5 mirrorless rig I took any marginal shots directly into Topaz (analog and AI). I was just blown away.

Anyway, now that part of my work flow appears to be very close to yours.

I posted most of my last Costa Rican wildlife shots directly after editing on my iPad Pro. No Topaz, no Luminar, or Nix Suite. Next batch will be edited on the iMac using everything.

Thanks again for the conversation. A real pleasure. I’m on Vero and Flickr more than here right now, but will keep in touch.

Thanks again! I am envious with regards to your R5. I should have gone deeper into my pocket and gone with the R5 rather than R6. That larger sensor is worth the extra $1000 dollars!

Bob :-)

When I bought my R5 I bought an R6 as my backup body. I spent three days shooting wildlife, mostly birds from Osprey to Coots. On the fourth day I took the R6 back, ate the restock fee, and bought another R5.

it wasn’t that the R6 was a bad camera, far from it. It’s that it wasn’t an R5. The thing is so intuitive and so versatile I had all my settings customized after a few hours of use. And the images are superb.

After 3 days it had become like an extension of my eye. When I picked up the R6 it was like putting my pants on backwards it just didn’t feel right because I couldn’t use it in the same way.

Having said all that, your Africa work is proof positive that the R6 is one beast of a camera, especially if it’s in the hands of a beast of a photographer.😜

Hi Almaz,

Your words are wisdom!

I've actually been thinking of selling my R6 and picking up an R5, or at least keeping the R6 as a backup only.

It's interesting that you came to the same conclusion.

Thanks for the confirmation!

Bob :-)

It’s not a perfect camera, but for me, it’s pretty close. In the past 5 months I’ve dragged my R5s thru the jungles of Costa Rica twice, three days and a half million people for the U.S. Grand Prix, and now virtually full time in the studio. The versatility and capability is astounding…really. I go all the way back to the AE-1, A1, F1 Days with Canon, all I’ve ever used…the R5 is astounding!

All the best…


I intend to find out! :-)

Inspiring to read the process behind the final image ! Gives courage to shoot at higher ISOs !!

Magnificient !

Thanks Sandeep! It's great having a chance to discuss the process. The work that goes into a truly great image - like your picture of the solar eclipse over the Taj Mahal - is mind boggling. My image was easy by comparison!

Awesome. it's scary

Hi Celia,


Marley is big, and like any lion, you would not like to meet him in circumstances where he sees you as prey. But lions in the Serengeti know that humans are the truly dangerous super-predator. If anyone in the truck had started making noise, or stood up, Marley (and his brother) would have run away. But Marley is the handsome one. He’s like a lion version of Fabio. It’s Bob Jr. who is the truly scary lion. He’s like a lion version of Danny Trejo.

(I am assuming you know these actors in Espana as well as we know them in the USA - LOL.)

I have never seen a lion who looks as battered and scary as Bob Jr.

Thanks again for your kind words. Bob :-)

superb one :)

Many thanks! Bob

what a cat..


Thanks! Bob