Taking Photos on Safari — Part 2

by Jan 25, 20200 comments


be vigilant of the monkeys

When on safari you aren’t limited to just seeing animals from the jeep. Most camps have water features to bring the animals in close.

This is a great opportunity to get great photographs. And often there are breaks at good viewing times, so you don’t miss out on anything.

If you missed Part One, I covered some challenges, goals and expectations of shooting on safari; Here in Part Two I’ll cover photo shooting opportunities off the safari jeep; and in Part Three I will review some of my favorite photos from this trip to Victoria Falls and South Africa.

Sometimes the shots with the best framing and lighting are ones you take in camp. There is usually down time where you can explore, and the animals that hang around camp are used to people, so you might get some better shots. You’ve got some time and the animals are relaxed. It’s a win-win for everyone!

TAU Lodge in Midikwee Reserve had some great viewing platforms. The camp is actually set up as an enclosure for the buildings and people. The animals come close for the water that surrounds the camp. This creats some great photo opportunities. In exploring camp, I was thrilled to find many birds and little creatures. But be vigilant of the monkeys — they will steal anything you put down and leave unattended!
These monkeys were perfectly content and didn’t seem to mind when we were close. This allowed some time to frame the shot and check all my settings. The result is a nice shot of this mother and baby vervet monkey.
I love that this giant animal just wanders into camp, where we are having lunch. They are surprisingly quiet — all of a sudden there is an elephant 30 feet away!
The birds are pretty exotic compared to the ones at home. The colors are just stunning! Cape glossy starling and crimson-breasted gonolek.
Southern yellow-billed hornbill and helmeted guinea fowl.
This was the view right behind my cabin. I was able to get surprisingly close to this elephant. I was not totally convinced that wire fence was going to keep him out (it was electrified)!
Elephants have sensitive skin and in this intense heat and sun they often will take a mud bath, coating themselves with mud to protect their skin. It was fun to watch this guy go for total coverage!

Try to get in a bit of the surrounding area to hint at the bigger environment. In both of these images the animal is still featured but we get a glimpse of a larger story. The shadows on the wall bring out the texture of the stucco. I liked the monkey positioned on the edge of the man made wall. He doesn’t quite belong here but seems right at home (this is an outdoor entertainment space for eating and celebrations).

Take advantage of unique opportunities. The only way to see the whole length of Victoria Falls is from the air, so we decided to take a helicopter ride over the falls. The rides are short and expensive — you most likely won’t be going back up tomorrow! If you end up in a situation where there is no time to practice, take a lot of shots! There is almost always something you can use.

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I knew the sight from above was going to be amazing. But we were there just about mid-day and it was hot. I did’t expect to get any good animal shots. Turns out that the animals were clustered under the trees and in the water because of the heat. This actually made for some cool and unusual shots!

You have to shoot fast because you are moving, so don’t zoom in all the way — you can crop later. Also, we talked to the pilot about wanting to see some animals to take photos. He flew around two locations twice to be sure I got a shot (most vendors want to be sure you have a great experience).

Make your own footprints…

Practice difficult shots

They say practice makes perfect — and in photography this is true! Try shooting a favorite location at various times of day and see what you can make work at high noon, or when it’s overcast (my favorite time to shoot flowers up close). Experiment with trying to capture birds in flight at the waters edge. Play around a bit and challenge yourself to create a better shot in less than ideal conditions. You may be surprised at the results.

In case you missed it, in Part One I covered some challenges, goals and expectations for shooting on safari; when posted, in Part 3 I will review some of my favorite shots from this trip to Victoria Falls and South Africa.

Enjoy the journey!

Karin H Wilson

Karin H Wilson

Artist | Designer | Photographer | Traveler | Storyteller

I am Karin and I just love to share a good story — preferably with snacks! I’m particularly interested in capturing the world’s beauty and wonder in photographs.

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