Friday, 11 January 2013

How to take good photos on an African Safari

Africa is on my mind a lot lately as I prepare for my workshop in Tanzania in April. So I thought I would post some shooting tips...

Here are some quick tips on taking good photos when you are on an African Safari!

When taking close-up or portrait pictures focus on the animal's eyes as this creates an engaging photo. This guarantees that most of the animal's face will be in focus. Be prepared and ready with your camera at all times, as animals may suddenly appear and disappear just as quickly.

You can also draw the focus onto your subject by throwing out the background and making it blurry. This can be done by setting your camera on manual and using a wider aperture which will bring the focus in on the animal. (F2.8 to F5.6 would be great)

Take a range of photos of your subject. For example, when taking photos of a lion, take a portrait shot; include one more with the general habitat in context to the subject, then another with close-up detail, such as paws and face.
Photos are more interesting if you capture some context, look at what is in the foreground and background that is going to enhance or detract from your photograph.

Do not centre all your shots; leave room in your subject for the animal to move into. This will prevent lifeless composition and give an imitate portrayal of your subject. Use the rule of thirds when composing your picture. (Divide your image up into a tic tac toe grid and put the point of interest where the lines intersect)

Have your camera out and set to the best settings for that particular time of day and conditions or else you could just have it set on automatic. Most safari vehicles are very stable; however with up to 5 people in them each person's movement can affect someones ability to take the perfect picture.

It is a good idea to ask everyone to be still for just a moment while you shoot, and thank them afterwards. Please remember not to monopolise the best spot for photos and to be considerate of your fellow trip members' needs and wishes. I will help you organise seat rotations within the vehicle if you are sharing a row, but it is my intent to always get 3 people per vehicle so you do not have to share a row.
I have been travelling for years and I find that it is really important, above all our efforts to take the best photos we can, is to "Live" the experience for yourself. Share your thoughts with your travelling partners, learn the cultures you will encounter, and fill your mind with the sights and sounds, just as much as you fill the memory cards. You will be sitting in a location that not too many people will ever experience, this truly is an experience that you will remember for the rest of your life... and I am honoured you chose to come to Africa with me.
Asante sana,