Wildlife Photography Tips & Ideas
Tips and ideas for best possible images of your African safari and wildlife photography
High- resolution digital cameras are outstanding and give great quality images, especially if you are using a digital camera body which takes normal camera lenses.
Many of the "all-in-one" (ie, no removable lens) digital cameras or even smartphones will get you some excellent shots & videos as animal actions are very fast with no warnings or second takes. They are light & easy
Bring 2 cameras if at all possible, even if you bring a smaller, less functional backup. Our recommedation is a Nikon waterproof compact digital or similar which can also be used on Rafting, Croc dive, Vic Falls tour & all water sports
Lenses: A 200 or 300 mm lens (or 80-300 zoom) is good for most wildlife photography from vehicles or boats.
A 400-500 mm lens will work well in many situations, especially if you are a keen bird photographer. Birds in flight necessitate speeds of 1/500 or more.
A standard 50mm or wide angle lens is good for scenery and people shots.
Useful filters & accessories
Daylight filter which blocks UV light without changing
the color of your images.
A scratch on the filter is relatively inexpensive compared to a scratch on your lens!
Stick with a good beanbag, take your own empty one, you can fill it with sand or beans, (the vehicles usually have some extras) and a tripod.
Both Canon and Nikon offer image stabilization lenses covering a wide range of focal lengths to make hand-holding practical
PowerShot SX40 HS High-End or similar will give excellent results
Use rechargeable battery packs with cameras and flash.
The electrical voltage in Southern Africa is 220V (versus 110V in the US). Do NOT bring a re-charger from home without having purchased and tested a voltage converter or you will do irreparably damage to your re-charger.
Bring at least two sets for your camera. The camps will recharge for you, but the generators typically only run during the time you are away from camp on a game drive
Solar charges with output plugs from ipods to smartphones & tablets are highly recommended for the serious photographer
A 12 volt charger with a cigarette lighter attachment, crocodile clips and some gaffer tape are also useful.
Bring at least two by 32-gigabyte micro drive memory cards and a digital wallet / Flash (USB device)
Some batteries i.e motor drives, LED etc are very scarce in certain parts of Africa so bring at least one spare set of non rechargeable for all types that your camera uses
Video and chips
Digital: The advantage of digital photography is that one can get instant feedback and adjustments can be made in the field to your techniques to ensure that your photographs are the quality that you would like.
A tripod and monopod are very useful for smooth panning and zooming
A lavier microphone (if your video camera can take it) is very useful to aviod the chit chat in the safari vechile. TIP stick the mic onto the extended monopod with Prestik and ask your partner to be the boom operator
DO NOT pack USB devices, Chips etc into your checked luggage. The x-ray luggage scanners could ruin your photos. Carry them in your carry-on luggage
IMPORTANT: BRING SPARE CHIPS, MEMORY CARDS AND A SPARE CAMERA BATTERY
BinocularsBinoculars are strongly recommended for every trip member, sharing does not work as birds and animals move too fast.
The higher the magnification, the heavier the binoculars are and the more difficult it is to hold steady for long periods. Smaller binoculars are easier to hand hold effectively.
8x42's works well for most people, but if you are particularly interested in birds a 10x25 is best
By understanding animal behaviour you will have a better chance of finding them and you will be able to predict their actions
Never interfere with the natural behaviour of the animals in order to take a better photo or get too close. These are wild animals with different personalities and tempers, treat them with the respect they deserve
Be prepared and ready with your camera at all times, animals do not keep appointments and may suddenly appear and disappear just as quickly
For close-up pictures, focus on the animal's eyes
Take a range of different pictures in vertical and horizontal approaches as well as close ups and wide establishing shots
Do not centre all your shots; leave room in your subject for the animal to move into
When taking pictures of local tribesmen ask them if it is OK to take their picture first. Never shoot first and try to make friends after
Pictures only capture the images, the sights and sounds of wildlife areas that are pure bliss and if you spend all your time peeking through the viewfinder you will miss most of the magic of an African safari. Enjoy the solitude, quietness and earth as it was thousands of years ago
To sit outside and soak up a sunset, when the blue canvas is painted in swirling glory and a hippo grunts his warning, or a fish eagle gives it's soul cry is something that is uniquely African and weaves it's own magic
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