An African safari can be truly magical for photographers. Perhaps you are traveling with your family, on a romantic break away, or on your own, either way, your camera is going to be with you the entire time.
It is our pleasure in sharing a couple of Top Tips on how to take the best photos while on safari:
- Choose the right camera and equipment for your safari. Some lodges offer photographic equipment to rent if you don’t want to bring your own. A lens starting at 200mm is recommended for taking close up images of wildlife and birds. If you are bringing a basic camera, try something with a 20 x zoom.
- Unfortunately, your ranger won’t always be able to get you right next to the animals, so a longer lens 100-400mm is suggested. For panoramic shots and portraits, you may want to remember a wide to medium lens, 24-105.
- We recommend changing places on the safari vehicle several times if you get the chance to change the framing. Also, ask the ranger to change position if needed – don’t wait for the ranger as not all of them have the knowledge of photography.
- Vary your framing – try to take a few full frame pictures, but try to vary the natural environment, i.e., in the savannah, by the waterhole, etc.
- Try to de-zoom and take pictures at 100 or 150mm to include the animals in their natural environment. You don’t need to zoom in on every shot. Change your lenses especially if the animals are close by, just be careful when changing as it could be dusty in place with occasional wind.
- You may have heard of the “Rule of Thirds”, perhaps do some research before your trip. This is when you place the animal or person looking in a direction further to the opposite side, so one can see what the animal or person is looking at.
- Connect with the eyes – try to focus on the animal or person’s eyes, to focus on the connection.
- Shutter speed – during your safari you might have scenes of hunting or playing, in which case you will need to take pictures with a high shutter speed to capture the scene correctly. If it’s too low, the subject will be blurred, and you won’t capture the scene correctly.
- Most lodges offer a Beanbag onboard the safari vehicles – an essential accessory to rest your lens. Be sure to ask!
- The most beautiful photos are taken just before sunrise and sunset, known as the “golden hours”.
- Observe and be patient – one of the key words on safari. You’ll probably drive around for long durations without seeing anything, looking for movement or “spoor” (footprints), but when you finally see something, it will be epic, so take your time to capture the beautiful moments. Always be ready and wait for the right moment. For example, observing a lion lying down in the savannah and catching that split second moment he decides to yawn and show his pearly whites.
- It is also a good habit to frequently check the taken images on your camera’s screen to ensure your images are in focus, you lighting is as expected, and it also allows you to get rid of some “waist images”.
- Last but not least, also try to put the camera down from time to time and just enjoy. Make some memories of the trip other than you looking through your camera the entire time. Take it all in and appreciate your journey on safari, it is after all, a once in a lifetime experience.