African Photography Blog

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Tips for Mountain Gorilla Photography

Photography during gorilla safaris in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is what leaves trekkers filled with lots of lasting memories. Imagine paying a visit to Uganda, Rwanda or DRC for gorilla trekking and you return with no pictures to show your family members or friends. To have the best of your mountain gorilla trekking adventure, make sure you have a good camera with no flashlight ready for photo shooting in the wild. Capturing pictures of mountain gorillas in the wild is of no doubt a life-changing experience.

Mountain gorillas live only in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The two protected areas are set in Southwestern Uganda and hosts over half of all 1063 mountain gorillas which still thrive today in the world. In Rwanda, treks to view mountain gorillas takes place in Volcanoes National Park and in the DRC, visit the Virunga National Park.

Best tips for mountain gorilla photography

Set your camera before setting off for actual trek to view mountain gorillas. Your camera should be set in TV model and adjusted to the best shutter speed for lighting conditions that you will be taking photos of mountain gorillas. Amazingly, the camera settings can easily be adjusted depending on the available light. This may also help prevent blurring photos thus a great chance for you to take the best photos.

To take excellent photos of mountain gorillas, make sure you are using a standard point and shoot camera. However, make sure that your camera is fully charged.

Position yourself well

Once you bump into a gorilla family, make sure that you position yourself appropriately, hold the camera in one position as you observe the best position of mountain gorillas for clear photo shots. While on a trek to see mountain gorillas, bear in mind that all the 8 trekkers will be struggling to take clear pictures. Therefore, find the best position to stand so as to have excellent pictures.

Look around in the neighborhood

While everyone focuses on the first seen gorillas, try to look around in the nearby spot for other gorillas joining the group members. Each gorilla family is composed of 30 members and they include infants, females, males.

Exercise patience

Whereas visitors are given only one hour to take pictures and learn in depth about the behavior of mountain gorillas, try to be patient. The position you will be or the mountain gorillas are may not bring a clear picture and that is why you need to be patient a little. There is a saying patience pains but pays therefore don’t be on a hurry as a better reward may bypass you.

Have protective gear and make the best use of telephoto lens

When planning for gorilla trekking safari, please don’t leave out protective gear for your camera. This is to help safe it from bad weather especially when it rains. You will need plastic shower caps and rain jackets to help protect you in case of down pour. Note, Volcanoes National Park, Mgahinga National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Virunga National Park are largely tropical rainforest protected areas. Given the nature of these creatures’ habitat, you have to be prepared with rain gear for safety of your gargets.

In summary, photography is one remarkable thing that makes up part of your gorilla trekking experience in Volcanoes National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Virunga National Park or even when you embark on Eastern Lowland gorilla trekking adventure in Kahuzi Biega National Park in the DR Congo.

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Wildlife Photography Technique is Where Most Amateurs Fail

Is wildlife photography technique important? Many wildlife photographers assume that by having the best gear, and getting sufficient opportunities to take pictures, they will automatically produce good pictures. I hope this is not you! Wildlife photography technique is the one area where most wildlife photographers can improve.

Before I had professional photo gear, I used to think that if I could only have THAT lens or THAT camera, I will also be able to produce pictures worthy to be published. Well eventually I got the gear, and came back to earth in a big way when I discovered that my pictures were certainly not quite there yet.

Technique! I realised that I was lacking on technique, because I thought pros mostly “got the shot” with their equipment. I refocused my efforts to improve my technique and here I am ready to tell you how to do the same.

A little warning. Getting your technique up to where it should be to get the best shot every time is pretty hard work. You have to be dedicated. I realise that if you are reading this, you are most probably one of the dedicated few who will work to turn their dreams into reality. Just thinking back to all the days I spent taking photographs of flying birds with a long lens reminds me of what I went through. Luckily the practice was all worth it, and nowadays I get that sharp shot more consistently.

Wildlife Photography Technique – ISACA

ISACA is an acronym I built for reminding me to think about all the important things before I release my shutter. Click on any of the items listed below for more information.

I = ISO Speed
S = Sharpness
A = Aperture
C = Composition
A = Action Considerations

One dreadful afternoon, shortly after I bought my first digital SLR, I walked up a mountain and took about 50 photos. This included some quite unique shots that I was very excited about. One problem though! My camera’s ISO setting was 1600 for all those shots… Needless to say I couldn’t keep one of the images due to unacceptably high digital noise on photos taken in bright sunlight (with a Canon EOS 300D body). Also, and more importantly, I NEVER made that mistake again, and never will.

This example illustrates to you why it is important to implement the ISACA acronym or some similar acronym derived by yourself. It will help avoid you making similar mistakes. It also makes you think of all the important factors before releasing your shutter.

One book that focuses on wildlife photography technique in a nice way is Wildlife Photography Workshops by Steve and Ann Toon. It is a good educational book with really useful lessons to be learnt the easy (safe) way, showing off some great photos as well.

The book is a bit difficult to read though, because it tells you to practise what you learn in one chapter before reading on. This can be difficult if you can’t get to a nature reserve, or other place providing wildlife photography opportunities, on a regular basis. It is still highly recommended reading for the budding nature photographer.

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8 African Safari Photography Tips

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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?
  8. 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.

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Action Considerations for Wildlife Photography

When photographing action (in wildlife photography), there are certain considerations to be taken into account. To freeze the action, you want a fast shutter speed, but available light might be failing. You also want to get your subject to stand out from its background.

As I said in my earlier “ISACA” articles, you cannot separate the components in the “ISACA” acronym completely. They move together and affect each other. This is also true for action wildlife photography, and here we just take a separate slightly different view of each of the “ISACA” components.

In the field you will not always have time to think these points over, so I suggest you try and remember them. Ahhh no, more hard work! Yes, but with decent rewards…

Fast shutter speed

Normally when the action happens fast in wildlife photography you need to be ready and will not have too much time to focus on camera settings etc. first. You want a fast shutter speed to catch the action.

That is your main aim. Speed! And lots of it…

I suggest that you always leave your camera settings on the recommended action settings. This ensures success when you have to pick up your camera in a hurry and start firing…

The main digital advantage for obtaining a fast shutter speed is that you can select your ISO speed without having to change film. A good setting will be 400 for action photography (depending on the light quality). However, with the older digital camera bodies such as the Canon 10D or 300D you will get some digital noise at this level. It is not such a big problem on the 20D (and presumably the 350D?).

Wide-open lens

Another important way to get your subject sharp through a faster shutter speed is having your lens wide open, or in other words your lowest possible aperture (2.8, 4 or 5.6 depending on your lens). This ensures a faster shutter speed by allowing more light through the lens. However, this will have the added benefit that your depth of field will be very narrow and therefore your subject will stand out nicely from its background.

I have found this to be very useful in the African bush. See the picture on this page, where I got the action sharp, but the two young baboons almost blends in with the background instead of standing out.

The problem with this photograph was that I took it with a 100-400mm zoom lens with a 2x extender yielding an aperture of 11. That is the same aperture I sometimes use for landscape photography to ensure everything is in focus! I wanted the exact opposite here, but didn’t have the luxury of a long prime lens with a very low maximum aperture…

There you go! Another excuse to mention to your spouse for getting that very expensive lens you have been eyeing…

Composition

Composition is not something you will be spending lots of time contemplating when the action is happening thick and fast. However, when you are patiently anticipating action, you can think it over a bit.

It is actually very important to think of where your subject will end up in anticipating action. Not too long ago, I was watching a fish eagle perched high in a tree fairly close to me. I was waiting patiently (as is required for wildlife photography) for it to fly. However, I made the mistake of composing the photograph too tightly, and when my patience paid off, and the fish eagle departed in my anticipated direction, its wingspan increased so drastically that I got a shot with the edges of both wings off the photograph! What a waste… All my patience for nothing.

Conclusion

I know you won’t have much time to think about the discussions on this page when the action is happening fast, but rather think these points over carefully now, and be ready. Nothing makes a wildlife photographer more miserable than a missed opportunity. And remember, with action wildlife photography, patience is king…

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How to Buy the Best Digital Camera for Photography

So which camera should you use to take your award-winning photographs? This digital camera comparison will help you make that important choice.

However, we are not actually comparing different models on this page, but rather equipping you to be able to do that for all models you are interested in. I tell you below what features to consider when doing your digital camera comparison.

I will assume that you have progressed to the point where you realise that top quality nature photography is not feasible using a compact camera system. Come on, you are way past that point, right?

Why digital camera comparison? Why not camera comparison, or film camera comparison? I assume that you are streetwise enough not to spend money on a new film camera this late in the game. We all know that the switch to digital is a reality, and even the most conservative and film crazy professionals have given up and bought a digital SLR.

Therefore this digital camera comparison page was written assuming you are in the market for a new digital SLR camera body (or second hand if you are lucky enough to find one).

That is not saying that film cameras are out, I have friends still winning salons with their Canon EOS 30 bodies. However, to equip most of my readers for their next digital camera comparison I am speaking to those wanting to get a new camera body. And digital SLR camera bodies should really be all they consider…

Features to consider in your Digital Camera Comparison

1. What brand?

I touched on this point on my Nature Photography Equipment page, and will not go into too much detail here.

I use Canon. Most other professionals I know use Canon. The rest use Nikon. That is about as much as you need to know…

Therefore, it is a simple choice between the two top dogs in the 35mm photography world, if you are clever… This choice will most probably be influenced by the lenses you already own.

Other manufacturers have some ground to cover before I will recommend their products. If your heart is set on a camera from another brand, at least take the time and do the digital camera comparison between that body and a similarly priced one by Canon for the same price. Then and only then make you purchase. I have wasted money with other brands, and I do not want you to make the same mistake.

The argument for Canon (or Nikon if you have to) is very, very compelling indeed, and to take your money elsewhere you have to have an excellent reason.

You can easily investigate the features listed here for any other digital SLR and see if it makes good photography sense to invest in such a camera body.

2. Price

The cost of a digital SLR body is a very important consideration. In fact, sometimes this is as far as you get with your digital camera comparison, because you can’t buy something you can’t afford. You need to have good glass (lenses) as well, and I always recommend rather going for a cheaper camera body and more expensive lenses.

There are currently fairly priced consumer digital SLR bodies available from both Canon and Nikon. Only the wealthiest among us (that definitely excludes me) will be able to afford the best camera bodies, like the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II. The rest of us will have to be content with our Canon EOS 10D’s or 20D’s. Heck, I even have a Canon EOS 300D in my camera bag! However, I do think the Canon EOS 350D is a big improvement on the 300D.

The Canon EOS 350D (or similar) must be the perfect model for beginners. I saw it for the first time recently and was pleasantly surprised at how small it is. It is also priced right for a serious amateur photographer.

If price consideration is where your digital camera comparison stops, the EOS 350D is an excellent choice.

3. Megapixels and the RAW image format

Strangely enough, the amount of megapixels is not important at this level. All consumer and professional SLR bodies have sufficient megapixels to take on film images. The reduced noise in modern digital images also makes them more attractive than their film counterparts. However, I would say for any digital image to compare to a film image it has to be taken in some RAW format where you have all the data available for post shot settings.

It might be necessary to increase the number of pixels afterwards in Photoshop using the brilliant Genuine Fractals plug-in. This is what professional digital photographers do to match the high resolution of scanned images.

White balance settings on a camera works best if set to automatic in, lets say, 70% of the cases. The rest of the time, it is better to be able to alter this on your PC afterwards. That is another good reason to get a camera body with the capability of taking images in a RAW mode.

But wait! There is more… The size of the image sensor and the amount of megapixels it takes its pictures in could be a consideration. If you are not stocked up with a monster 600mm f4 lens and a 2x converter, then you are going to crop certain images. This is when having lots and lots of pixels can be a big advantage. It enables you to crop more of the image away afterwards, while still having enough data left for publication…

4. Possible ISO settings

I would recommend that you go for a camera body that can take pictures in ISO 100 mode or lower. When taking pictures in ISO 200 mode, I pick up visible noise compared to ISO 100. However, I would not decide between bodies on this point only. ISO 100 or lower is a nice to have.

5. Focus selection options

Focus selection options. This is something that almost drove me crazy with my Canon EOS 300D (especially back when that was my only digital SLR). When photographing a flying bird or other fast moving object, you need to have you camera body set to continuous auto-focus mode, agreed? Now that is not possible in any of the creative modes on the Canon EOS 300D, while these in turn are the only modes in which the RAW format is selectable.

BIG mess-up. You have a continuous auto-focus mode for the creative zones, but it is supposed to recognise automatically that your subject is moving and on the 300D that took way too long. I am afraid that the same problem might be prevalent in the EOS 350D, so be careful if you are considering that body.

I would rate this as a very important consideration in your digital camera comparison.


6. Mirror lock-up

This is again maybe a nice to have. I have not used it often but at a focal length of 800mm it might be necessary. That is the focal length (a massive 1280mm after multiplying by the crop factor) I will be using in my June 2005 Moremi and Chobe Botswana trip, so I will reserve judgement on the mirror lock-up till after then. Some of my pro buddies love using the mirror lock-up, so ask yourself the “Will I be using this?” question in making your decision.

7. Built-in flash

Some people get very upset if the built-in flash does not operate well. It is really weak on some camera bodies, so I will recommend buying a proper flash unit with your body if you will be using flash. However, if you plan using the built in flash, make sure it lifts up high. I was really disappointed with the height of my Canon EOS 10D body’s built-in flash. Almost any lens will get in its way…

I have a Canon Speedlite 420EX these days, but I operated for years without using any flash. Therefore, do not bash your head against the wall over this.

8. Focal length multiplier

This is a beautiful feature of digital camera bodies for the wildlife photographer. I was really excited when I saw Canon increasing its megapixels while keeping the focal length multiplier (also called the crop factor) unchanged in their EOS 20D and 350D bodies.

I love this feature because I want longer lenses, zooming in closer on my subject for wildlife photography. The focal length multiplier makes the focal length of your lens longer by 1.6 times for most Canon bodies. This makes a 400mm lens a very decent 640mm lens for bird photography. Now throw in a 2x converter…

9. Lens mount

Make sure that the body uses the lenses you want to fit onto it. This will generally not be a problem due to backward compatibility by big manufacturers.

10. Storage type

This will be a consideration if you have a micro drive but the camera cannot use those. Be careful to make sure you investigate this if necessary.

11. Number of auto-focus points

This might seem important, but all consumer and professional digital SLR bodies have a sufficient amount of auto-focus points. I tend to use the middle one most in any case. It gives me more control, enabling me to select exactly where the sharpest area of my picture should be.

Therefore, do not let this final feature count too heavy in your digital camera comparison…

Digital Camera Comparison – Conclusion

Is that it? Yes that’s it. So little? Yes, because that is all you really need to consider when choosing a digital camera body nowadays. Some people will want to throw me with stones for simplifying it this much (especially the EOS 1 fans), but in my opinion rather spend more time taking pictures than making you digital camera comparison an all consuming exercise.

If you carefully take the above features into account, you will be able to do a proper thorough digital camera comparison, and buy the right body for you. Once you have this body, think lenses, lenses, lenses. Lenses have a much bigger impact on the resulting photograph than the camera body used…

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Wildlife Photography Safaris in Uganda

Uganda a block of East Africa hosts an incredible variety of habitats and wildlife. The conservation of these habitats into National Parks and Wildlife Reserves is the cornerstone for wildlife viewing. One of the most important geographical features of the region is the Great Rift Valley. The large depressions within the Rift Valley fed by streams have become great Lakes, around which many species of wildlife can be found.

They include several National Parks and Wildlife Reserves and concentrate on different aspects of wildlife observation.  Some Uganda safari packages focus on a particular interest or activity like bird watching, primate viewing. Some safari guidelines bases on national Parks are too often selected for quantity of animals, certainty and ease of viewing on the game drives. Some National Parks became so popular that they are overcrowded with too many minibuses and jeeps getting careless and scaring animals. Animals move around, seasons change weather varies. There is no way of knowing what each day will bring and there is no guarantee that you’ll see absolutely everything you are after, but most safaris give an amazing wildlife experience!

The long stay is an important aspect, the more time you have to go on safari the more you will see! The chosen travel style will also greatly enhance your wildlife experience; Camping safari will offer you a different experience than lodge safari a part from Katara lodge in queen which provide wildlife view verandah.  The game drives are the most common way to observe African wildlife and for most visitors the backbone of their safari. Game drives should be undertaken in a customized 4 x 4 drive vehicle with a driver-guide who has experience and knowledge of the area.

The game drives can be organized at any time of the day but you will have the best chances to encounter wildlife in the early morning and late afternoon. It is cooler and animals are then most active.  A first-time visitor will want to see plenty of game, mainly large animals. Although the major animals are important, we advise not to get too caught up with ‘Big Five’ fever, the African wilderness has so much more to offer, especially its incredible bird-life, smaller mammals, primates, reptiles, trees and other plants… If you are receptive to learn about the different aspects of nature and conservation your trip will be much more meaningful and pleasurable.

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Essential Guidelines for Gorilla Photography

Of recent, many travelers travel to Uganda and Rwanda to track the endangered mountain gorillas that thrive in the Virunga National Park. Many travelers interested in photography always opt for gorilla safaris while visiting these few surviving homes to the mountain gorillas. If you are looking for a gorilla photography adventure, here are the recommended guidelines that you should  follow to enjoy your tour and return safe and stable.

On reaching the gorillas, spend 1 hour with the mountain gorillas wisely as it is the maximum time allowed while taking some memorable photographs.

  • Bring the best type of camera required in taking photos within the forests of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Mgahinga National Park and Volcanoes National Park.
  • Fast lenses are needed in order to take clear pictures since the gorillas are always in areas without direct sunlight. However sometimes mountain gorillas can be found in places with direct sun light. Most clearer photos have been taken around ISO800, f2.8-5 and shutter speed of 1/10-1/240
  • Though most travelers prefer to bring a monopod it is not easy to use them within the forests. During your trek into the wild, mountain gorillas normally sorround travelers moving all around making it difficult to use tripods. You are also advised to maintain a 7m buffer distance between the people and the gorillas.The monopod takes a little while to set up, the space can often be cramped as you will have 8 tourists and the guides all stuck in the jungle and the gorillas may be in a pose position that you may want for just a short period of time. During the gorilla trek, shot hand held cameras or occasionally with a monopod when the gorillas started resting after eating.
  • On the type of less it is advised to use a D90 (1.5x crop sensor) and 70-200mm VR lens. On our last gorilla trekking trip, the destination guide was more strict on the distance between the travelers and the gorillas however it could reduce from 2-5meters since the gorillas where mobile. This made her 70-200 mm lens on a Nikon crop sensor some how long but a bit ok for most of her photos.
  • A zoom lens is better since it becomes too difficult while taking steps forward or backwards while in the jungle.
  • Due to the little light within the forest, it is tricky to get a clear view of the gorillas given the little light in the jungle as well as the dark colour of the gorillas, so travelers are advised to keep checking while shooting.
  • The first sight on mountain gorillas is really amazing. ”I couldn’t hesitate the urge to blaze away with the camera taking memorable photos (particularly knowing I only had 1 hour with them), however later on I found it was nice to sometimes just stop taking photos and enjoy the little time with these beautiful creatures, watching their behavior e.g eating, playing and grooming each other.”
  • It is not easy to aim at one or two gorillas at a time so as to get the best shot. The hour didn’t last for so long and by all means she took the most incredible photos to treasure and also show to her friends.

Hope the above tips and experience will help you get the best shots while tracking the mountain gorillas in the wild! Don’t miss trekking the gorillas as it is the best experience for a life time!

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How to Adopt Good Macro Photography Technique

Ah… Macro Photography Technique. But why? Macro photography is easy right? Unless you are happy with mediocre results, I beg to differ… It took me quite a number of outings and experiments to master this field of nature photography (if one can ever claim to master it!).

When it comes to macro photography technique, one has to watch out for a few common bad habits. Your subject is usually not in the brightest of light. This is your main concern. By the way, in photography light is supposed to be your main concern. Painting with light remember… To complicate matters further, if your subject is in bright light it is probably the wrong time of day to take the photograph. Great hobby this, right?

Low levels of light on your subject causes a slow shutter speed. This causes camera shake issues. That is why you should never attempt macro photography without a tripod. This is the main thing you should know, and if you want to stop reading now, at least remember this point. Using a tripod is half the problem solved!

Now, to make the tripod issue even more important, but also necessary to think of separately is the issue of depth of field. You need a very small aperture (high number = small aperture) to get enough depth of field in your macro work.

The narrow depth of field often encountered in macro work is sometimes used to give a macro photograph a certain special feel, but this has to be used expertly and very selectively to work. In about ninety percent of cases, it will be better to have sufficient depth of field.

So, to get sufficient depth of field you need to stop down the lens (aperture of 16 or higher). This is bad news considering your subject most probably already has too little quality light on it. You are letting a very small portion of that through to your digital sensor. This underlines the necessity of the tripod, but it might also start your thinking towards getting that Macro Twin Light you have been thinking so much about. That will reduce the need for careful Macro Photography Technique…

The main point to remember is to set your aperture to 16 or more (I often use an aperture in the high twenties) to get sufficient depth of field.

Next please. Composition is more difficult for macro work than for other types of nature photography. Why is this. Your subject might be a flying insect, a flower being moved by the wind, or an insect sitting on a leave at a very funny angle. Add the fact that you need to approach very carefully to not disturb your subject and you have a bit of a tricky situation.

There are no golden rules to help you solve this one. Play around with composition until you get something that works. Decent composition was very difficult for me when I just started photography. Some folks suggest you use the rule of thirds, but it is way more complicated than that. I find that I learn a lot about successful composition by studying the work of professionals. I also enter my photographs for salons and other competitions. You learn a great deal here.

Well, that is it for Macro Photography Technique. My last bit of advice is to get practice, and plenty of it. That is after all the only real way to improve your Macro Photography Technique!

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Underwater Photography Tips

As years go by, the world of photography continues to reinvent itself along with the changes in technology. Its pillars continue to come up with better sets of equipment like cameras and constantly come up with new methods and strategies to produce better photograph.

Along with these changes is the emergence of modern photography method that enables man to reach and rediscover the beauty of uncharted territories like the ocean floor. This is called “underwater photography.”

As the term suggests, underwater photography refers to the kind of photography that is done or taken under water. This is quite a breakthrough in the world of photography because underwater lovers such as divers and scuba divers because they can now take photos under the sea and share it with others with the use of modern equipment that can actually work well down under.

TAKING PHOTOS UNDER THE SEA

Aside from possessing the love and passion for the water and the creatures under, reliable equipment such as an underwater camera is the key factor for successful underwater photography. If you’re a diver who is not so much into underwater photography, you can now purchase disposable underwater cameras just to take photos. But if you would want to pursue a career in underwater photography, you will need much complicated equipment and gadgets.

The first thing you should consider is the camera to be used. In underwater photography, two kinds are usually used: the underwater or waterproof camera and the encased camera that has housing to protect the camera inside. Aside from camera, you should also take time to research and canvass what is the best lens, film, and flash you can use during your shoot.

Aside from the major technicalities and equipment, you should also consider several environmental factors that will greatly affect the quality of your underwater photos such as depth of water and transparency of water, available light, the angle of the sunlight on the top of the water, the backscatter, and the magnifying effect of water.

Here are some additional musts before you dive and click that shutter button:

1. Good or at least average diving skills. In order to be fully prepared for an underwater shoot, the underwater photographer should also possess good diving skills to be comfortable in taking photos.

2. An experienced underwater buddy. This person can serve as your model and can even help you carry your equipment and gear, hold the lights down under, and can even share the momentous experience.

3. Good managing skills—in managing resources, that is. You should learn to manage vital resources such as dive time, body heat, air, battery life, and the like in order to endure the physical strains under water.

4. Reliable camera housing. If you don’t have waterproof

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Photography on Night Safaris in Africa

Taking a photo is not as easy as focusing on the subject and then clicking the camera. It takes more than that. In fact, it takes a lot of intuition and a set of lessons. This is why amateurs in photography need not only experience but also lessons in techniques and of course in the basics.  One of the hardest thing to master is night photography, not only because the subject is hard to find but also because the shadows will make it more difficult for the amateur photographer to take a good shot.

One of the popular adventures in Africa are night safaris within several national parks in Africa. In Uganda, Semuliki Forest is one of the best destinations to enjoy night photography given yhat the park hosts several nocturnal animals that include primates, leopards etc.

Below are some tips that any amateur photographer can use to master night photography.

Safety

The first thing of course that amateur photographers need to remember is to choose the location well. Remember that if you are going to do the shoot, you will have valuable equipment with you. There are places in the country especially in the cities that are very dangerous at night. Safety is paramount. If possible, do your explorations with one or two people as you cannot very well conduct your shoot in daylight or under artificial lights.

Spares

Another reminder is that batteries often run out easily in cold conditions, so it is best to carry an extra or if you have none, try to fully charge your batteries before going out of the house and proceeding with the shoot. You should also bring a good case for your camera as moisture during the night can easily permeate to your camera.

Other equipment

The best camera to use for night work is actually the one with the manual exposure settings, preferably an SLR (single lens reflex). Automatic cameras are not often recommended, as they are not powerful enough to fight the darkness. Another requirement is a sturdy tripod with a rubber leg to minimize slippage. A cable release is also needed as this will enable you to hold the shutter speed open.

Exposures

One important thing that an amateur must remember in conducting night photography is the fact that longer exposures are needed for black and white photos compared to ordinary lighting. Color film, on the other hand, will produce shifts in colors.

Use of flash

With insufficient light from the moon, most photographers will supplement the light with a hand-held flashes, a technique known as “painting with light.” Other more sophisticated ones may also use movie lights and torches as additional lights.