Photography Tips for an African Safari
It's important to know the behaviour of the animals you're trying to photograph. By understanding their behaviour you will have a better chance of finding them and you will be able to predict their actions.
By reading up on animal behaviour you will learn the different kinds of terrain the various animals prefer. You can combine that knowledge with that of your qualified guide to plan the best African game drives and bush walks, where you will have the opportunity to take some amazing photo's.
Security is very important, so make sure that you don't put yourself in danger. Also never interfere with the natural behaviour of the animals in order to take a better photo!
Some part of all trips will involve meeting people from local tribes and with cultural backgrounds different from ours. Please be courteous when taking pictures. It is always a good idea to build rapport with your subjects first and then ask them if it is OK to take their picture. Tribal folk can be very suspicious of cameras and vocal and demonstrative with people who shoot first and make friends after.
The following tips should help you to take memorable photos while on your African safari:
When taking close-up photographs of game you should focus on the animal's eyes. This guarantees that most of the animal's face will be in focus. Be prepared and ready with your camera at all times, as animals may suddenly appear and disappear just as quickly.
Range your subject. For example, when taking photos of an Elephant, take a portrait shot; include one more with the general habitat in context to the subject, then another with close-up detail, such as horns and face.
If you plan to buy new camera equipment before this trip, make sure you are completely familiar with its operation.
Protection and Insurance:
Vibrations from the transportation vehicles engine and corrugated roads can play havoc with your camera gear so pack it well. Also, it is not uncommon to drop cameras in or out of the vehicle. On some trips you will be on board boats and there is the chance that you and your gear may take a swim. Insure your equipment. A home owner’s policy will usually cover camera gear.
Some trips will involve meeting people from local tribes and with cultural backgrounds different from ours. Please be courteous when taking pictures. It is always a good idea to build rapport with your subjects first and then ask them if it is okay to take their picture. Tribal folk can be very vocal and demonstrative with people who shoot first and make friends after.
Do not let your camera blind you. There is a whole world out there and pictures only capture the images. The sights and sounds of these undeveloped areas are all interwoven, and if you spend an inordinate amount of time peeking through the viewfinder you will miss most of the trip. Be ready with your camera at all times. Animals do not keep appointments; kills happen in a flurry of fur and snarls; and leopards leap from trees in a split second.
If your camera isn't ready you will miss the award winning shot. It is a good idea to ask everyone to be still for just a moment, while you shoot, and thank them afterwards. Please remember not to monopolise the best spot for photos and to be considerate of your fellow trip members' needs and wishes.
Binoculars are strongly recommended for every trip member. They are invaluable for observing larger animals as well as birds. A 7 or 8 power binocular works well for most people, but if you are particularly interested in birds a 10 power is best. We recommend that each trip participant bring his or her own pair, as it is most frustrating to strain for the sight of a brightly coloured bird high in the tree, while waiting to borrow a pair of 'Bino's, only to have the bird fly away once you finally get the bino's.