How To Take The Perfect Safari Photo

Photographing wildlife is always challenging, so we’ve put together our top tips on how to take a steady stream of great wildlife photos whilst  on safari that capture the amazing sights that await on your African adventure.

Photo Prep Before You Go:

– Take the time to familiarise yourself with how your camera works. Practice using the different modes and studying the result. You don’t want to waste a moment of your trip getting frustrated over how to use  your camera!

– Think about the environment you’re going to be in – will you want the hassle of carrying around a tripod,  extra lenses and filters? For a safari situation, your extra gear may be a touch too limiting and distracting.

– Study the animals you are hoping to photograph. Being familiar with their movements and features can help you plan how best to capture them when the moment arrives.

– Check your equipment to ensure it is not too noisy or distracting for the animals. See if you can turn off the shutter sound, for example, or choose a camera with a quiet one if you’re buying something new.

Tips Whilst On The Trip:

– Be sure to charge your battery and bring spares if you have them, or invest in a few if you don’t. You could be out all day and are likely to be doing a lot of shooting, so start each day with a fully charged battery to limit the chances of running out and missing a perfect shot.

– Make sure you have extra memory cards for the same reason as above. The general consensus is – however much memory you think you will need, bring more! For many, a safari is a once in a lifetime experience, so don’t limit yourself to the amount of memories you can capture.

– When trying to shoot a moving animal, switch your camera mode. Sports or action mode are both good options if you have them, as they increase the shutter speed, meaning you can catch the movement without the result being a blurry mess. Do remember to switch it back to normal afterwards, however, as this won’t produce a good result for stationery shots.

– Avoid shooting into the light and try to position yourself on the opposite side of the vehicle to the sun.  Ideally you would like the sun to be behind you, illuminating the subject.

– Turn the flash off! You won’t need it during the day and it can annoy the animals, so be mindful and respect the local environment.

– Don’t put your subject in the middle of the picture. Think about the shot you want and how best to compose it, then spend some time setting it up (even if the animals aren’t yet there). It is all too easy to get caught up in the moment and just start pointing and shooting, but this will not result in the best images.

-Following on from the above point, use the rule of thirds. In a nutshell,  this means imagining your screen as a grid cut into 3 x 3 squares, placing the focal point(s) of the scene where the lines intersect.

Technical Talk:

– For capturing animals in motion, you ideally want a camera that shoots at 5x a second, with a shutter speed of 1/125.

– If you are bringing a Digital SLR along, a long lens is crucial. A 300mm lens will work fine, but a 400mm lens is better for shooting from a distance. For landscape shots, use a wide-angle lens.

– If you don’t think a tripod is practical, take a bean bag or a window-mounted tripod instead.

– Blurred backgrounds can look great, particularly on close-up shots.

– For zoom shots, keep the eyes of the creature in focus, which will result is a more engaging photo that embraces the personality and spirit of the animal.

And finally, don’t get so caught up in taking the perfect photo to show everyone back home that you forget to take the time to experience the moment. Put your camera down for a while and make some memories that are just for you.

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