4 Tips for Taking Great Safari Photos

The modern camera's small size and numerous features make it an ideal tool for taking safari photos and recording wildlife on a safari. There are arguments for and against both film and digital cameras, but there is no doubt that the quality and ease of use of a digital camera is rapidly approaching that of a film camera. Considerable cost savings are being realized too. An investment in a good quality digital SLR (single lens reflex) is recommended for anyone serious about taking quality wildlife photographs. Point-and-shoot cameras are not recommended, although quite often animals will approach close enough to a vehicle to obtain a reasonable shot.

Tip 1 - Background

Suddenly, the animal you have been waiting to see for the last hour walks into view. In your excitement to get a great photo, you don't pay much attention to the background. This, however, can spoil an otherwise excellent photograph. On African safaris, many animals seek protection in thick bush, which, in the winter months (June to August), is a drab, brown color. Many animals blend in with this background due to their natural camouflage.

Try changing your position. If you are in a vehicle, ask the driver to move to a more suitable location. The animals in game reserves in Africa are generally used to motor vehicles and, unless the vehicle gets very close, will ignore the vehicle. On the open plains, dramatic effects can be created by photographing animals such as zebras, elephants, lions, wildebeests and other large antelopes against a deep blue sky. The winter months in Southern Africa are dry months with clear skies. By using combinations of filters, even more dramatic effects can be devised with the sky background.

Tip 2 - Camera Sounds

Most modern digital cameras have the ability to switch off the sounds the camera makes during normal operation. These are mainly a tone or series of tones when the camera is switched on, and the shutter click when the shutter button is depressed. These sounds are mainly there to give the camera a more natural feel for persons used to handling older cameras. Digital cameras are able to operate in a completely silent environment, which is much more suited to photographing animals that tuned in to their surrounding noises and will disappear upon that first click.

Tip 3 - Equipment

Because of the nature of wildlife photography, telephoto lenses are an important piece of equipment. Carrying a tripod or monopod is often not practical. Useful alternatives are bean bags, which can be placed almost anywhere on rocks, trees or vehicles to keep the camera steady while using the long lens. The newly introduced Joby Gorillapod can also be used to attach a camera to a variety of objects.

Tip 4 - Subject Size

Many photographers on safari in Southern Africa are searching for the "Big Five:" the lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and leopard. Although these animals are exciting to encounter and photograph, Africa is teeming with countless varieties of small animals and curious insects. Those photographers interested in macro photography have an almost unlimited range of small subjects to choose from. Some amazing photographs await those photographers prepared to get down-and-dirty with these tiny creatures.

Popular Cameras for High Quality Photos: