Travel Photography Guide – How To Take Beautiful Safari Images
One of the goals of most photographers is to save enough money and go on Safari. Going on safari needs careful planning and acquiring of the proper gear to maximize a once in a lifetime trip. Coming home with the best Safari photography images of real wildlife is every photographer’s ultimate trophy.
Before, the word safari was defined as a big game hunt using guns to kill and hunt animals. Today, the word safari is an expedition where tourists have the chance to observe and photograph animals in the wild.
What I want to share with you today is some of the most important information you need to know if you are planning to go on a safari shoot. I will give you tips, techniques, and equipment suggestions to ensure you’re well prepared for such a memorable journey.
But before we discuss the photography side of your trip, let’s first talk about the trip itself. The very first thing you must do is research everything that you can about the place you’re about to visit. A good idea is to ask help from a travel agent or ask friends who have been there for firsthand information. Although safaris are tourist friendly, there are still some restrictions and regulations that the African government upholds so make sure that you follow their laws. Knowing what to expect will make your traveling easier smoother and a lot less complicated, so take the time to read some books and articles online.
Let’s now talk about equipment suggestions. Take note that these are just suggestions because ultimately, you will decide on what to bring and the most important thing about photography gear is your level of comfort with your chosen equipment. If you are planning to capture some landscapes then having a wide angle lens with you would be a good idea. A telephoto lens also captures decent landscapes but they are best for shooting images of wildlife from a distance.
If you don’t have a telephoto lens then I insist that you buy one. 200mm is the suggested minimum, 300mm is better, but 400mm takes the cake. Yes they are expensive, so I recommend that you really plan ahead and save enough money for the trip and the gear. I’ll also suggest a zoom lens or a portrait prime as your walkabout lens. There are plenty of people and interesting subjects to be photographed so it’s better to be prepared than frustrated.
The camera body doesn’t have to be that expensive. If you have an intermediate level body then that’s fine, so just concentrate on the glass. Having a spare camera is highly recommended for two reasons. One, in case something happens to your SLR, and, in the instance that the animals are just right beside you, and you don’t have time to change your telephoto, you can whip out your point and shoot and click away. You can take a back-up point and shoot or you can bring another SLR. Having a spare SLR means versatility and convenience. It will prove its usefulness on crucial moments when you desperately need to take a shot and the telephoto just won’t cut it.
Another piece of equipment that you need to use is a nice sturdy tripod. There are restrictions when using flash so sometimes you just have to lengthen your shutter speed to capture enough light. This is where the tripod comes in handy. But also take note that there are baggage restrictions on the amount of things you can bring on your trip so ask the tour guides if they can arrange equipment rentals.
Some have difficulty using the tripods so an alternative would be a window mount. Spare memory cards must also be brought or consider bringing your laptop with you to save your images after each daily trip. Electricity is a big issue since cameras run on rechargeable batteries.
Safari camps do offer electricity but they are powered by generators so be prepared for instances that you won’t have electricity from time to time. Having spare batteries and chargers will really work to your advantage in these situations. Take advantage of the times when the power is on to charge your batteries. Also, take note of the charger you have. The voltage might not be the same so be wary. You may also find that the plugs are different in Africa so ask your tour guide if they can provide you with an adapter.
Dust will be a problem on your safari trip so changing lenses on the field is a big no-no. You may also want to bring you camera cleaning kit because your lens will need constant cleaning, just make sure that you don’t scratch your lenses. To prevent this just use a UV filter on your lenses and be careful while wiping your lenses with a cloth. A polarizing filter can also do wonders for your images. It will cut down on the reflections from the water and other reflective surfaces. The skies will also appear to be darker so take note and avoid too much polarity.
Taking images while on a safari trip presents lots of challenges but knowing what those challenges are beforehand will make your journey more enjoyable and rewarding. I hope you’ve learned something reading this article and I’ll leave you with one last piece of advice; Always remain vigilant on your trip, and constantly keep your eye on the viewfinder, as you never know when a great moment may appear.