Taking perfect photos, both for personal memories and for sharing with friends and family, is a top priority for many travelers on an African safari. However, good wildlife photography requires specialized equipment and a little more knowledge than an average “selfie”.
There is always something unique about being in Africa’s wilderness; so much that most travelers are enticed to grab their cameras and capture marvelous moments of beauty and charm. Be it a gorilla safari in Uganda’s Bwindi national park or Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park, a cultural safari in the Karamoja region of Uganda or a wildlife holiday in Kenya’s Maasai Mara or Serengeti national parks.
Being an awe-inspiring journey with so much to see and take in, a safari in Africa will ultimately lead you to take as many pictures as possible so as to relive the memories in the African jungle when finally back home. The only challenge is to know when to put down the camera and just experience the moment or snap it to keep for years.
The fact that safari trips in Africa offer exciting opportunities to behold incredible wildlife and once in a lifetime views, it is important to carry a camera to snap the moments and perhaps document your trip. However, for only the trotters that would want to take better pictures on their next African adventures, this is the most appropriate piece you can ever read.
While point-and-shoot cameras and the new mirror-less wonders are great for travel shots, most wildlife encounters will require the longer lenses and the fast and accurate focusing power of a DSLR. Here are some tips to consider before you choose a camera and head out on safari.
- Get the right gear.
You need the ultimate equipment to have your best wildlife shots. Despite improvements in the compact camera market, DSLRs are still king when it comes to top-class wildlife photography. Generally, the lenses are more important than the camera, and if you’re invested in good glass, you can get fantastic results with even an entry level DSLR.The best wildlife lenses are fast, heavy and of course expensive. If you want the best, get the fastest lenses possible, those with the widest maximum aperture, often ft2.8 that will let in the most light and allow you to use faster shutter to avoid blurry photographs. Image stabilization is also a great feature for wildlife work.In terms of focal length, a good 70-200mm with some wider lenses to capture people and landscapes will cover most situations. You can add a “converter” to lengthen the reach of your 70-200mm or choose a longer zoom (for example a 100-400mm) for those situations when you need more reach. Longer lenses are great for birds or shy animals that keep their distance.The perfect lenses for such purposes are long primes such as 300mm to 500mm fixed lenses, but these huge expensive, and unwieldy behemoths are only for those truly committed to their craft.
- Light is key, make use of it.
Before any capture, always take light into consideration to see whether the direction where the light comes from doesn’t affect the quality of the shot. Lighting can make or break the shot, so photographers should never go wrong on it.
- Take as much shots as possible.
Impressive wildlife photography does not only focus on the big five, also capturing smaller animals like birds and insects can be interesting. Most men behind cameras on wildlife safaris in Africa ignore the surrounding environment, but the incredible African landscapes can make eye catching varied shots.
- Patience and practice.
These are the two golden rules of photography, it’s all about timing, knowing when to wait and when to exactly take the shot. Photographers can even wait for the best shots for hours. And before embarking on any African trip, practice photographing moving objects to perfect your skills as you wait upon the right photo opportunity in the jungle.
- Try different angles for better shots.
For perfect pictures showing all the desired features, one should try wider and closer angles to see which one best captures the mood of the scene. Capture animals in action, maybe cheetahs running after their prey, lion cubs playing with each other or zebras grazing in the savanna plains in the national parks of Africa.
- Try to shoot at dusk or dawn.
These are the best times for outdoor photography because this is when the light is at its best, giving much more contrast to add to the picture. This is also the most appropriate time to find the wildlife before they go to hide away from the midday hot sunshine.
- Work with the environment.
A lot of people are always trying to find that clean picture environment where there are no branches in the way, no leaves and no shadows. It is of course true that the crystal clear image where the subject is bathed in perfect light are the images where one screams a “halleluliah” to the heavens, but more often the conditions are not all that great.More often it is the imperfections that are the things that make an image beautiful. Shadows are to animals what mascara is to models. Dust and rain create atmosphere. It is the branches and the leaves, the glare and the dust that often give the emotions to an image. Why not play around with them a little more?
- Photoshop or light room your images.
Truthfully writing, most of the online images today are enhanced through editing on Photoshop or Light room. Some pictures would be spoilt by the lighting or shutter speed of the camera yet they would be beautiful to behold, Photoshop can enhance the brightness and other elements. Just simply make a world of difference in your wildlife photography.Most importantly, have fun. Enjoy the precious time in the magical Africa and make the best out of it. You are here to experience what can’t be understood about Africa except through personal ventures, so don’t let photography over control you.
Given these tips, now you can undertake an African safari, together with your camera and be sure to return home with an incredible collection of pictures for your personal memories as well as family and friends.