Wildlife photography tips
Did you know?
South African professional wildlife photographers are among the best in the world.
Wildlife photography is something of an art. But even if you’re an amateur with a brand-new camera, you can bring home some truly special shots.
Here are some handy photographic tips for game drives.
Firstly, make sure you have a reasonably long lens when photographing wildlife. Anything over 200mm is good, preferably with an image stabiliser. Some point-and-shoot digital cameras also have good zoom ranges.
Have your equipment set up beforehand, and be familiar with how it works. It’s no good scrambling for your lens, your beanbag or your camera, deep in a bag, when a lion is sauntering in front of you. By the time you get everything together, the lion will probably be gone.
For the same reason, put your camera onto ‘auto’ mode. Unless you’re a serious photographic fundi, it’s much easier to go automatic. And, in fact, some of the best wildlife photographers will tell you it’s the only way to go. With wild animals, there’s seldom enough time to fiddle with settings. Rather just get the shot.
While on your game drive, take along spare batteries and an extra memory card for your camera. You’ll kick yourself if you don’t. And bring along the manual too. You never know when you might need it.
Keep as still as possible or your pictures will be blurred. You may need to ask your fellow game-drive passengers to refrain from shifting around. Bring along a bean bag to rest the camera lens on and keep it steady, particularly if it is heavy.
Never climb out of the vehicle for a better shot, unless you have specific permission to do so from the ranger.
There are times when you can get close to animals, and times when you cannot. Be respectful. It stresses animals to have vehicles too close to them, especially if they are protecting their young. Don’t nag the ranger to get closer or drive too close yourself. It may not be safe.
Remember, the best light is early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Shoot with the sun behind you, unless you’re specifically looking for a silhouette or a backlit effect.
Be patient with your subjects. They won’t always be doing something interesting as you arrive. Learn to anticipate what the animals might do.
Refrain from changing lenses while on a game drive. Dust is the enemy when it comes to sensitive digital-camera innards.
Lastly, don’t only lift your camera at members of the Big 5. Even common animals like impala – and ‘lowly’ dung beetles – can be award-winning photographic subjects.
And don’t pass up an opportunity, thinking you’ll take a picture next time. Seize the moment!