Taking Photos on Safari — Part 3

by Feb 10, 20206 comments


the landscape is pretty stark…

Travel photography has its rewards.

Here are some of my favorite images from Victoria Falls and Midikwe Reserve in South Africa. I took lots of shots I didn’t use, but I think it is better to overshoot when you don’t have the opportunity to come back in better light or better weather.

If you missed Part One, I covered some challenges, goals and expectations of shooting on safari; Part Two covered photo shooting opportunities off the safari jeep; and here in Part Three I’ll review some of my favorite photos from this trip to Victoria Falls and South Africa, and why I think they work (even if they are not perfect).

I like this shot because it captures the challenges of the environment so beautifully. You can see it is mid-day, we are in a vehicle with visual obstructions, and the surrounding environment is not very photogenic behind our rhino friend. But these are temporary problems — we are moving and the animals are moving — there is still much to see and capture on this trip!

Now this is a busy shot — the rhino is not isolated from his background, the whole image is gray — but it was the best rhino shot of the trip (whole animal in profile and no obstructions). Remember what I said about expectations and goals? This image is for a travel blog, to share an experience with others. It shows a massive animal, caked in mud, to protect itself from the sun and the heat. And I was there to see it — isn’t that cool?

And yes — I am hoping for another trip to Africa to try again for a cleaner shot!

Work with what you have. We were all disappointed to be looking into the sun, but this elephant really stands out against the sky in this situation. I find that the silhouette of this majestic animal is very striking and I am thrilled with the results.

The late afternoon sun really makes the animals stand out. The grass is almost glowing with sunlight!

I’m always on the lookout for striking abstracts in nature. I love the bold pattern against the blue sky. The giraffe is both very present (in the pattern of his coat) and missing (he was so large and close that his legs and head are out of frame). Try something different like this and crop in real close to make a bold design.

Any time I capture a bird in flight I am a happy camper! The birds in Africa seem so exotic compared to his more drab cousins at home. This is a Southern yellow-billed hornbill (flying banana to the locals).

This lion is on her way home from a kill. The landscape is pretty stark, but the contrast in both the color and lighting make this an interesting shot. The late afternoon sun really pumps up the drama here!

We were lucky to visit this watering hole twice in the same day. I took the first photo of the elephants because it simply documented what we saw (and you never know if you are coming back). The second shot, with the late afternoon sun looks like a totally different location. The sunlight in the dust takes this shot to the next level.

I find this shot interesting even thought we can’t see the bird’s head. What does he look like, what is he doing? These birds move so fast when they are building a nest it is hard to capture them. This shot isn’t going to win any competition, but it offers me the chance to share a good story and documents what I saw on the trip.

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This was taken from the helicopter and just might be my favorite capture of the whole trip. The earth is splitting open and a rainbow is being born in the mist — it is just magical!

This elephant was taking his sweet time walking down the road. As our driver said “he sets the speed limit out here.”

As you can see, even with challenging lighting, locations, shrubbery and moving animals, you can get a lot of good photos on a safari adventure. Prepare with some practice shooting before you go. Be familiar with your settings and you will do great!

Make your own footprints…

Refine your skills before you go on safari

I went to the ocean to photograph egrets to prepare for this trip. They are tall gangly birds, they don’t let you get close, and there is little warning when they take off. It is hard to get a good photo of these birds. Sounds like hell.

But…there is a method to my madness. I knew we would be in moving vehicles, using long lenses, in all kinds of lighting conditions. By practicing for two weeks with the egrets I got faster and better, at aiming and focusing my camera. I actually got some images that I was happy with. I think this effort upped my success on the safari jeep.

In case you missed it, in Part One I covered some challenges, goals and expectations for shooting on safari, and in Part Two I covered photo shooting opportunities off the safari jeep.

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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