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Kruger National Park, Sunny in South Africa, Sunny on Safari, Travel, Travel Tips

7 Tips for Wildlife Photography when on Safari

If you are heading out on an expedition into Africa, it is always nice to create memories and have a little something to take home. We imagine beautiful images of a herd of zebras sprawled like on the cover of National Geographic, or that moment when you capture a lion mid-roar.

The truth is, wildlife photography is challenging. Animals are wild and unpredictable, so photographing them can be frustrating. Here are some tips to help you catch some great photos on your safari.

  • Know your gear: Be very familiar with your camera, your settings and your lenses. Some of the greatest wildlife moments will only last for between 10 and 20 seconds, and you only have that one moment to capture it. Know what your ISO is on, ensure that your subject is in focus and make the most of that shot.
  • Know your subject: Do your research. Become familiar with your subjects and the landscape beforehand so you can anticipate the scene and the animal’s behaviour. Joe Capra, a wildlife photographer for National Geographic, says “try to learn about (your subject’s) behaviour, movements and habitat. Research the location you’ll be shooting so you’re able to maximise your chances of finding the wildlife, the best places to shoot from and which direction sunlight will be coming from at various times of day”.
  • Know the rules: There are certain unwritten rules of photography, such as the rule of thirds to achieve a good composition. In wildlife photography, capturing the eye of the beast is what catches a viewer’s soul. Work carefully within framing, but also know when to break the rules.
  • Stay safe: Do not sacrifice your personal safety or that of others to get a shot. Do not get too close to the subject. If you are on a game drive, do not lean too far out of the vehicle. And do not exit the vehicle unless your safari guide it is safe to do so.
Lion linking his lips.

King of the Jungle captured getting ready for a meal. Credit: Pixabay.

  • Be very patient: Many of the greatest wildlife photos were carefully set up and prepared for. Anything can happen at any time. Sometimes you get the opportunity to capture a special moment in a way that no one else has, and other times it’s hard to catch anything at all.
  • Try something different: When it comes to wildlife photography, we have pretty much seen it all. So try and play with your circumstances a little. Opt to shoot a little bit wider than the subject, to get a good sense of the background. Or shoot a little closer, and really zoom in on their face. This can be quite an evocative photo.
  • Using the light: The best time to take photographs is an hour around sunset and sunrise. It’s called magic hour. Get up early in the morning to catch the first sweet light. This light is soft and won’t be as harsh as light at midday, which creates sharp shadows and a flat image.

Don’t forget to have fun and happy snapping!

By Soninke Combrinck, June 11, 2017

Soninke Combrinck

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Hi, I'm Soninke
My name is Soninke, but I am more affectionately known as 'Sunny'. I am a food obsessed, coffee loving travel bug who wants to save the world. Tag along on my journey as I try to navigate this crazy thing called life.
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