safaris are a once – in lifetime trip. You want
to ensure that your photographs are the very best and
do justice to the beauty of the land, the excitement
of the trip, and the magnificence of the wildlife. Here
are some useful pointers that will help you.
take a chance on running short. Even if you're only
a casual snapshooter, once on safari you're likely to
find so many exciting subjects you can easily run out
before the trip's end. Double the amount of film you
normally bring on a trip. Though film can sometimes
be purchased at lodges and safaris camps, it's best
to buy any additional film in Nairobi.
film, such as Fujicolor or Kodacolor, of ISO speed 100
to 200 is most useful. For dawn or dusk photographs
(often this is when certain wildlife is active), bring
some additional rolls of 400 speed or higher.
you shoot slide film, 100 speed is a good choice for
most shooting, with some additional rolls of 200 speed
for dawn or dusk photography. In addition, bring some
higher speed – 400 or higher – for darker
in mind that slide film is not as forgiving of exposure
errors as is print film. You need to be careful in using
the camera's metering system. And for those very special
shots, you may want to bracket exposures – that
is, make one exposure at the meter's recommendation,
then another that is 1/2f – stop underexposed
and a third that's 1/2 f- stop overexposed. If you do
much bracketing, you'll need lots of slide film –
much more that when shooting print film.
final point about: do not bring any films you haven't
used before. It's not a good time to be testing out
you are a serious photographer, you probably have several
lenses and may be two camera bodies. Two camera bodies
are very helpful – they can save precious time
in changing lenses; also, it's often convenient to have
one camera body loaded with medium speed film, another
with high – speed film. An extra camera body is
also good insurance against a camera malfunction.
fresh batteries in all camera and motor drives before
leaving on safari. Bring a full set of spare batteries
for each camera/motor drive. Finding batteries can sometime
be a problem once you're on safari.
not an absolute necessity, motor drives or motor winders
can make things easier when photographing wildlife action.
Of course, many new cameras have motor drives built
into them, but if you can have an older model you may
want to add a motor drive. (Contrary to popular opinion,
motor drives were not invented by Eastman Kodak or Fuji).
assume that you'll be using telephoto lenses exclusively.
Bring whatever lenses you like to use, from wide angle
to medium telephoto. Zoom lenses are an excellent choice
to cover over a wide range of local lengths, and these
are especially useful for photographing scenic or activities
and people in safari camps and lodges.
good wildlife photography, preferred focal lengths are
300mm to 500mm. If you are buying a telephoto lens just
for this trip, a good choice would be a 400mm and 1.4
X or 2X focal length extender. With the 1.4 extender,
the 400 becomes a 560mm and with the 2X the combination
your equipment is more limited or if you don't expect
to do much wildlife photography in the future, you might
try using a focal length extender with your zoom lens.
A 70 – 210mm zoom becomes a 140 – 420mm
with a 2X extender.
a safari vehicle a simple beanbag is the best camera/lens
support. It is so stable, in fact, that sometimes you
can get away using slower shutter speeds than you'd
ever consider with a long telephoto lens. It should
be made of heavy enough cloth to withstand being tossed
around, stepped on, snagged on door edges, and so on.
Be sure that it's large enough; useful dimensions: about
12 inches long, about 9 inches wide and about 4 to 5
inches thick when filled with beans or corn. If you
make your own, leave an opening that can be closed with
zipper or Velcro or bring needle and thread to sew it
shut after adding beans or corn bought at a market in
Nairobi or on the road.
using telephoto lenses, it's vital to have good support
because these long lenses magnify every slight movement,
creating possible blurring of the image. If you don't
have a beanbag, some clothing rolled up makes for a
reasonable substitute. A sweater, for example, rolled
up and stuffed into a T-shirt can offer good support
to rest camera and lens.
a good idea to carry a small lens brush and each time
you open camera to load film, run the brush carefully
over the film pressure plate and the general area where
film is transported. One tiny speck of dust can scratch
and ruin a whole roll of film.
encounter a lot of dust on safari. Carry a supply of
plastic in which to keep your camera, lenses and film.
Don't try to load or unload film or change lenses while
the vehicle is moving – you're likely to get dust
inside the camera or lens.
is deadly to film, especially exposed film, causing
unwanted shifts in color balance. Wherever possible
keep your camera and film supply out of direct sunlight.
When not in use, stow them in camera bags under a seat,
away from bright sun. it's usually best to leave your
exposed film in the coolness of a safari tent or lodge
during the day while you're out on safari.
AND SUNSET PHOTOS:
Africa has the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets
of nearly any place on earth. To capture the grandeur
of these events, here are a few tips.
a telephoto or zoom your zoom lens to its longest focal
length. This makes the sun larger in size for a more
advantage of any landscape elements for dramatic silhouettes.
A graceful acacia tree or any possible wildlife will
enhance the composition of you picture. Don't set your
exposure for the sun itself. The resultant picture will
probably be far too dark. Instead, aim the camera away
from the sun, to the right or left and meter off the
sky. Then lock the exposure setting, and recompose the
picture with the sun where you want it in the frame.
You may also want to bracket a few exposures; that is,
make shots slightly underexposed and slightly overexposed.
This is often necessary to finetune exposure when shooting
is the key to good wildlife photography. Many of the
animals in game parks and reserves are used to vehicles
and people, allowing close approach at times. However,
even the most tolerant usually react nervously at the
first approach of a vehicle. By switching off the engine
and sitting off a while, most animals relax and return
to normal activity, allowing better photographic opportunities.
to pick your best angle for lighting when you're approaching
an animal, then stop at the most favorable spot. Repeated
starting of engines and movement of vehicles to jockey
for better position causes even the most tolerant animals
to eventually leave.
morning and late afternoon provide the best lighting
for most subject. Direct overhead lighting in midday
is too harsh and contrasty.
polarizing filter is very useful for scenics, darkening
and intensifying the color of the sky. The maximum effect
is achieved when shooting at an angle of 90 degrees
to the azimuth of the sun; the effect is minimal when
shooting toward or 180 degrees away from the sun.
sure to remove polarizing filters when shooting wildlife.
The polarizer will have almost no effect on most subjects
and, more importantly, such filters soak up almost 1
1/2f – stops of light. You may need extra amount
of light gathering, especially when using fast shutter
speed to capture moving animals.
finally, the cardinal rule of good wildlife photographers;
The welfare of the animal always comes first! Never
approach too closely an animal stalking or hunting.
When any predators are feeding, move slowly and as quietly
as possible. If an animal is frightened away from its
kill, another predator or scavenger may come along and
steal it. This is especially true with cheetahs and
the very health of the animals and its young may be
jeopardized. If the animal behaves nervously and is
about to flee, back off.