As you go on photographic safari to enjoy wildlife photography, you got to be conscious of the light. Every safari destination has different light, defined by the land, the sun, the soil and water. The Masai Mara light is very soft rich and honey golden, at least during the golden hour. The light in the Okavango Delta is very crisp rich with every color evenly saturated. The light in Kruger in South Africa is a bright rich light, almost at the edge of being too bright, even during golden hour.
Knowing that, you will be able to adjust your camera settings to achieve the best results and to anticipate to changing situations. It will also help with expectations. Don’t expect Masai Mara colors in the Okavango Delta and vise versa. Keep at all times checking the light situation and adjust accordingly and you will go home with great wildlife photos.
And even back home when you make a photo book with your safari images, you will see that it is not a match to put photos from different light zones in the bush on the same page. Somehow it doesn’t work.
Why would you like to break the ice with an elephant and not just run? First of all you are most likely on a safari jeep and don’t need to run. Second of all, it might be necessary to get away quickly even with the vehicle. But usually elephants are nice, as long as you don’t make them angry. And third, if you want to photograph elephants you will need a good relationship with them.
Respect the animals. They feel that and appreciate it. Try to make contact with them to understand what they are communicating. Elephants are very clear in their signals and expect you to respond accordingly. Be aware that elephants have the need for harmony and safety. They get very distressed when they feel uncomfortable or threatened. In some areas they are used to a great amount of human stupidity, but don’t push their patience. Respect their space and needs and they will be wonderful for you and your photography.
Yes, little cats are the cutest things one can have in front of the lens on photographic safari. But there is more. Little elephants for example or little hyenas, those come and bite in the tires of your safari jeep. Or all these just born antelope babies, still wobbling on their new legs.
But don’t forget the caring interactions between adult lion before they go off on hunt or the caring bird parents feeding their little ones.
Besides the necessary funds to go on photographic safari, some photo equipment and the post-production equipment, there are other meaningful resources for a successful wildlife photography safari.
Make sure you do the right planning. Is the routing all right to avoid time loss? Do I visit the right safari parks to see what I want to see? Am I trying to do too much within the time I have? Read about it in books and on the Internet. Talk to people with experience and most of all don’t push yourself too far in terms of what you can all do on one safari day. Relax. A day on safari is not like a day rushing around in a city. You can rush, but it will not get you anywhere. Time is different in the bush.
Read some books on photography to learn about wildlife photography and the special conditions in the African savanna. Don’t get carried away with things you think you will absolutely need on safari. Less is more. Just bring the right things and often you have them already.
If you can, take a day rest before going into the bush. That will make you enjoying your photo safari from the very first moment.
A mobile safari is one of the nicest safaris one can do. You feel like back in time when the pioneers were trekking through the unknown country, but with nowadays comfort.
Your safari guide welcomes you at arrival and off you go with your private 4x4 jeep into the bush of the Okavango Delta or any other amazing African safari destination. The great advantage of the private jeep is, that you can stop where you want and for how long you want and take all the time to photograph the wildlife and landscape. There will be food and drinks on the vehicle and in the afternoon you arrive at your campsite. The campsites are private and a team of helping hands has been already busy pitching the tents, preparing the meal and drinks and you only need to arrive and enjoy. It is time to sit at the campfire with a drink and a snack and look back on the day’s photographic adventures.
And the next day is just the same, just as wonderful as day before and full with new safari inspirations and great wildlife photography.
Unfortunately there is a last day and one has to get on the plane back home, but the memories go with you and you feel a bit like Out of Africa.
What does one need to be a happy wildlife photographer? The Big Five all photographed within one day on safari or the perfect light with the perfect Big Cat sighting or the front row position with your game drive vehicle to see the Great Migration? These are all perfect conditions to be a happy wildlife photographer, but they do not make happy.
A happy wildlife photographer is happy inside him/herself. Unrealistic expectations can make that one is very unhappy with anything. Expecting nothing and being prepared for everything is a great starting point to end up with the most amazing pictures of anything. And don’t expect from yourself to photograph like somebody else, just be yourself and photograph the way you do. It only counts that you love you pictures and that will make you a happy wildlife photographer.
Wildlife photography is a lot about patience and waiting for the moment that something happens. Safaris with wildlife interactions are the best for photography, but when the action eventually comes it can also be a challenge.
Action in wildlife photography means that all happens very fast. The animal moves very fast and the light is changing very fast to, when e.g. a leopard is moving around in a tree, going in and out of the shade very quickly. That means the pictures tend to be blur.
There is nothing wrong with a blurry picture. It supports the movement and looks very interesting, but when all is blur it is not nice anymore. Our eye needs to focus on something and an entirely blur picture doesn’t allow that. We feel uncomfortable and don’t like the picture.
Make sure at least one eye is in focus. We connect usually with the eye of a photographic subject and if that is out of focus, it feels like it hurts our eye. Is the eye in focus, the rest can be blur and full of motion. It will be a lovely and most likely very interesting picture.