15 African Wildlife Safari Photography Tips

When gallivanting across the plains and gazing upon beautiful landscapes and wild animals, you need a powerful camera to capture amazing scenes and portraits. Taking photos will help you preserve the memories of an African safari.  Unfortunately, not all travellers are great photographers. Regardless of your photo-taking experience, these tips can improve your photography and help you get the best shots on your safari.

1. Stay Safe

You may want to take a great photo of a leopard drinking water from a stream, but you should be wary of other dangerous animals lurking in the vicinity. Wild animals can attack you if you get out of your car to take a photo. Therefore, before opening the windows or getting on the sunroof, ask your guide if it is safe. Most animals you will encounter on your safari are unpredictable, so do not risk your safety when taking the photos. Walking safaris provide the best photos, but you should follow the recommended routes to be safe.

2. Ensure You Have Enough Memory

Nothing is as painful as running out of storage in the middle of the park. Sometimes you could even miss some action when changing the memory or miss a fantastic photo session if you don’t have extra memory cards. You can avoid these frustrations by carrying memory cards that are large enough to hold a full day’s photographs. Besides, backing up your memory cards can ensure you do not lose any of these photos if you accidentally lose your camera.

3. Learn to Work With the Environment

Many people struggle to photograph images in bushy areas with tree branches in the way. Instead, they look for a clean environment to snap some images. Granted, crystal clear photos are mostly taken from clear backgrounds, it does not mean you should not take pictures of animals near bushes. Learning to take great photos with leaves and branches in the background can give your picture a story.  You can practice with diverse environments as you wait for the animals to appear, and you will be comfortable taking their photos irrespective of the obstacles in the way.

4. Have Enough Power for Your Photography Sessions

When you are on an African safari, you will be using your camera most of your time, which may drain the batteries quite fast. Do not wait until you miss a thrilling action due to battery failure to get alternative power sources for your digital camera. Ensure you have a car charger to charge your gadgets while on the drive. Your guide may also help you to charge your gadget and ensure you have enough power to last you for a day.

5. Look for the Eye

Some of the top shots taken by the most celebrated wildlife photographers are portrait photos. Try to look for the eyes as much as possible when taking wildlife photos. People can tell the mood, the focus and the intent of the animal when they see the eyes. Observe what the animal is doing and focus on the eye. Even when the animal faces the other direction, capturing such details will enhance the image quality.   

6. Get the Right Photography Lenses

When going on an African safari, you should have a good SLR camera and several lenses. Getting a 400mm lens will enable you to capture images at a distance and shoot pictures that other photographers with smaller lenses cannot. Besides, you can take a photo before the animal reacts to your presence because of the distance. Good camera lenses will also help you capture fascinating images of birds in trees and other small animals comfortably.

7. Capture the Perfect Angles

When you are in a park, sometimes you have little time to photograph perfect images and shoot the photos fast to capture as much as you can.  The downside is that you will have bland images that don’t tell a story. Take time to hold your camera and recompose the photo before taking a shot. Be creative and use the surroundings to give the image a fresh perspective. However, sometimes it can be challenging to capture a great photo when the animals are many, for instance, when a pride of lions are feasting on a buffalo. In such situations, you can change the angle of the photo using different compositions.

8. Be Patient

If you want to capture great photos during your African safari, you have to be patient. Take time to identify a good sighting and wait for the animals to arrive. Animals are more likely to behave normally when they are not disturbed. Therefore, turn off your vehicle and maintain silence when you see a pride of lions, and you will have a better chance of capturing incredible images.

9. Choose the Correct Shutter Speed

African safaris give you a rare opportunity to capture wildlife in action. Unfortunately, if your camera is not ready, you may end up missing such memorable happenings, or you can end up with blurred photos. Make sure that your camera’s shutter speed is high enough to enable you to capture clear and sharp photos of animals in action.

10. Talk to Your Guide

Most guides have experience in African wildlife and can tell when animals are within the vicinity. Unfortunately, most guides can provide relevant information on sightings, but only a few can provide valuable assistance when taking photos. If you want to park the car to take great wildlife photos, talk to your guide, and they will help you.

11. Photograph Every Event

When you are on an African safari, do not always concentrate on the Big Five. As you wait for a herd of buffalos to appear, you could look up and take great photos of birds perching on tree branches. You could spot a tortoise crossing the road. Your guide could be of much help when you want to know about the prominent animals and birds in the park.

12. African Safari Offers More Than Photography

Taking wildlife photos should not dominate your safari experience. Unless you are a professional photographer with the sole goal of capturing all crucial happenings on your camera, don’t spend all your time taking the photos. Putting aside your camera sometimes to watch a chase could be more memorable. Listening to the birds and animals make funny sounds could also be enjoyable.

13. Respect Animals

Since you are intruding on the animals’ natural habitat, it is advisable to ensure that you do not disturb them. Even when you feel that the animal should turn for you to capture an image, it is unethical to make a sound or wake the animal to take a photo. It would be best to not interfere with a hunt; instead, observe from a distance.

14. Prepare for the Perfect Moment

As you wait for the perfect moment for the wildlife to appear, take a shot of the scene and see how the photos look. If the quality is wanting, you have time to adjust your camera accordingly. Adjust your exposure settings until you are impressed with the photos. By the time the action happens, you will be ready to capture the best images with your camera.

15. Talk to People Before Taking their Photos

Most areas near game reserves, national parks and beaches are highly tuned in to tourism. When you are in these areas, taking photos is not always a significant issue. However, you should get permission from people before taking their photos. Some areas are less populated and private. Therefore, you should not walk around photographing everyone along the way and seek permission before snapping pictures.

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