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African Photo Safari

Africa safari photography tips

Africa Safari Photography Tips

Planning you next African photo safari, why not spend a moment and read our Africa Safari Photography Tips. An African photo safari for most is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  The  better prepare the more chance for enjoyment.  You certainly will have a camera on your phone. However, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Even if you attend an African Safari again, you will certainly have individual experiences. For example, one time you might see a group of zebras with babies and then next time there might be a group of elephants.  Each encounter holds something new and awe-inspiring. From photographing animals, landscapes, sunsets and the Milky Way and everything in between.

However, to really capture the moments in the safari you need to have a  high-quality camera.  If you are not the type of person that wants to fiddle with a lot of buttons and take the time to learn the camera, then you need to choose one that will have a good automatic feature.  This is not ideal at all, but at least you will be able to capture the moments with various lenses as well.

You don’t have to spend a small fortune on your new camera.  However, you will need interchangeable lenses and, the camera should have interchangeable batteries.  Some cameras have an internal battery that will need to be charged and cannot be switched out. This is fine, but you may risk missing some shots and you will need an external power source to ensure that you can charge it when it needs it.

Bring Camera Supplies

Other items will be memory cards, be sure to bring enough. These can be cleared at the end of every adventure when you are near your laptop, and reused. However, they are cheap enough and small enough to carry a few with you at all times.
It is dusty out in the bush, so you need to get a good camera cleaning kit as well. This will help your equipment to produce nothing but stunning images each and every time. Having the proper lens pens and wipes can really improve your camera’s lifespan and produce better images.

Get Burst Shooting

Also, you will need to ensure that your DLSR has a burst mode. This is a great feature for those of us trying to capture the animals as they sometimes don’t want their photos taken. This feature will allow you to push down a button and it will take multiples at a time. It can capture the animals even while they are running off. And, it is good for when there are animals far away and are playing as well. This will ensure that you will capture them in a good shot at least one time and not have nothing but antlers or tails in the shot.

Familiarize yourself with your camera

This is important!  You should know the functions of your camera before you take off for your trip. If you need assistance there are many online videos to help with just about any make and model.  A local camera shop may also offer classes to help with learning your camera better. And, there are all kinds of online courses that will show you the basics of photography.  However, you need to take the time to learn them and practice!

Things you should know is:

  • Where and how to turn on your bust mode.
  • How to make the shutter speed faster
  • How to change the focus point

These are just some of the beginning points.  But, you should have these down pat before heading off to your African safari.

Remember practice makes perfect!  And, you can practice your animal shots just about anywhere, even in the cities.  We have pigeons and birds everywhere or go to the park to find some dogs playing.  There are cats that roam the streets as well.  The point is that you need to really practice to get better at anything and that goes for wildlife photography as well.  Take some time and go for a walk bring the camera, take in the sights around your area.  Try to not just get a picture of a bird flying, but some amazing action shots, maybe it feeding its young or feeding on a flower.  This can be very beneficial to you out in the bush, but also a lot of fun as well.

Telephoto Lens

Bring a telephoto lens with you on your trip.  A wide-angle lens is also a must. Getting the proper lenses for all the different encounters is important.  The more variety of lenses you have the more you will be able to capture. And, if this is a once in a lifetime event, you need to capture everything that you can.  If possible get a lens that offers OIS (Optical image stabilization).  This will help with the shake and blurry pictures that can sometimes occur when using telephoto lenses. 

A Tripod

A tripod is great for night shots where you will need long exposures to get the perfect images. It is also perfect for when you have found a great spot for watching wildlife, as it will allow for little shaking and disruption to occur. It is also perfect for staking out your prey and getting those shots without having to handle the camera and heavy lenses for hours. This allows you to use your camera as a gun scope, if you will, watching the watering holes while preparing for that perfect shot.

A Photo bag

You need to protect your camera while traveling. The camera bag should easily hold everything that you have for your camera and you should easily be able to find everything as well. A camera bag should have spots for each of your lenses so that they don’t clang together and it should be easy to carry as well. There are all kinds of different styles of bags to choose from, which is totally on preference. If you plan to grow your arsenal of camera gear, be sure that you choose something that is big enough to grow with you. It should also have places for your memory cards and batteries so that you can carry extras and find them easily as well.

Keeping the Subject in mind

Sometimes it is super cool to see an animal in its natural habitat.  We start to focus more on the animal than the surroundings. However, that is because you are in the surroundings.  Try to capture some photos that include the natural beauty of the safari. Photos of the sand, grasses, and trees are always beautiful as well as the animals.  Try to capture the details of the plants and surroundings which are so beautiful as well. It is really easy to get caught up in the animals but the safari has so much to offer from amazing sunsets, sunrises, plants, and stars, be sure to capture them all while you are there.  If you are staying in a lodge, the lodge often times has amazing lines and design as well. 
When you are taking photos to be sure to take images of people as well.  This is really important when something is really large as it is hard to tell in a photo at times. However, if you look at an image with a giraffe and people within it, it is easier to see just how large the giraffe is! 
Some tricks that will help you operate your camera while riding around in the bush.  Sometimes you need to drive around to find the animals and places to photograph.  While driving you want to be ready for those opportunities.  To do this and not ruin your equipment, you should carry a small bean bag.  While you could “borrow” the pillow from your hotel, it is strongly frowned upon.  These beanbags are easy to make yourself and can be easily thrown into your luggage. 
These beanbags can be used to put over the car window so that you have a nice seating area for your lens.  These larger lenses get heavy and over time you will need something to rest it upon to get the shots that you want.  The window frame works nicely and can be rolled to be at the perfect height.  These beanbags are great for putting your camera on while traveling as well.
When you are in the safari, another hot tip for getting good photos is to be sure you have a guide that can help you go where the animals and interesting things are to actually photograph.  Wandering aimlessly for days in the Safari would not be fun at all. Having someone that is knowledgeable and a photographer as well will be key to having a great African experience!
Be sure that you choose someone that also has a love and passion for photography as they will be able to help you find those perfect shots.  Be aware that you may have to get up very early to get out to just the right spots to get those perfect photographs.  Have your DSLR ready and waiting for you in the morning.  Be sure to clean the lenses and take some practice shots the night before to warm up.

Go where the animals are!

When you are in the safari, another hot tip for getting good photos is to be sure you have a guide that can help you go where the animals and interesting things are to actually photograph.  Wandering aimlessly for days in the Safari would not be fun at all. Having someone that is knowledgeable and a photographer as well will be key to having a great African experience!

Be sure that you choose someone that also has a love and passion for photography as they will be able to help you find those perfect shots.  Be aware that you may have to get up very early to get out to just the right spots to get those perfect photographs.  Have your camera ready and waiting for you in the morning.  Be sure to clean the lenses and take some practice shots the night before to warm up. 

Africa Safari Photography Tips 

Well that is it for our Africa Safari Photography Tips. We certainly hope that this article has been helpful. Even if you do not book with us we do hope you will visit Africa.

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