There is nowhere quite like the middle of nowhere to succumb to a serious case of lens-envy. Safari goes hand-in-hand with photography, and being in such a stunning and surreal environment naturally stirs our instinct to capture it all and take it home with us.
From the beginner to the professional, being out in the bush is a great place to let your creativity loose through the medium of your camera: the landscapes, the wildlife, the people, the light… the sheer range of photographic potential is staggering.
Alex is a keen cameraman and photographer, and through his work with professionals in both fields, he has fostered a collection of top tips to offer prospective safari-goers.
TAKE YOUR TIME
The longer you stick with just one subject, the better the results. Building an understanding of an animal’s movements will make it easier to predict and prepare for that moment where the perfect shot falls into place.
YOUR VEHICLE IS YOUR BEST TOOL
Our cars were designed to be climbing frames that can support a huge range of shooting angles. We can remove seats, add bars, tie down clamps, add beanbags… Your guide is also an invaluable resource: explain what you’re hoping to achieve, and he may have local insight you hadn’t considered.
KNOW YOUR EQUIPMENT
Spend some time getting to know your kit beforehand, so that you’re fluent in its use by the time you’re on safari. There’s nothing more wasteful than thumbing frantically through a manual instead of enjoying your sightings.
SNAP NOW, EDIT LATER
Get out there early, and stay until the light runs out: make the most out of all the day has to offer. Take in as much as you can – there will be time for weeding through later. Always be disciplined about backing up, and don’t delete until you’ve seen it on a big screen.
15KG WEIGHT LIMIT
Don’t bring the entire kitchen sink only to find you have to leave it behind at the airport. All the small-aircraft flights ask passengers to keep their luggage to within 15kg.
WHAT EQUIPMENT TO BRING
Photography can be an expensive hobby, and if you’re likely to only use your camera once or twice a year, hiring a lens gives you access to the latest model without having to invest.
Covering The Basics
A short or medium telephoto lens is ideal: enough magnification to include plenty of backdrop, and enough compression between subject and background to create a dramatic shot.
In case you’re considering bigger or wider, bear in mind that a super-telephoto can make it hard to pull back far enough, while not many animals will let you get sufficiently close for a wide-angle lens to be optimally effective.
70-300mm is perfect. The options within this range are plentiful, but narrow it down by opting for a zoom rather than a fixed focal length – the former will give you more flexibility.
Most professionals will advise you to invest in one top-quality lens, rather than 2 inferior ones – so go for greater glass quality and better optics… It will yield beautifully crisp, sharp images.
A Little Extra Luxury…
If you do have more than one lens, it’s worth bringing two camera bodies, so you can switch seamlessly between them and not miss out all the action.
A wide-angle lens isn’t essential, but it does give a great perspective on landscapes and skyscapes, and can add another dimension to your image collection.
1) Spare memory cards – bring more than you think you will need.
2) A spare battery. You can recharge in camp, but if you’re out shooting all day, it’s advisable to have backup.
3) A hard drive for safekeeping those photos
4) Decent binoculars
Photographic Workshops and Safaris
If you’re looking for inspiration, we’ve put together some magical photographic itineraries with a view to making the most of our various locations and the highlights of each season