How to Master Hazy Light


There is a reason that game drives on photographic safaris are in the early morning and late afternoon. One reason are the animals. They are more active in the morning and afternoon when it is not that hot and the chance of seeing wildlife interaction is bigger.

Another reason is the light. The so-called golden hour with the best light for
wildlife photography is in the morning just after sunrise and in the evening just before sunset. In between, the light is challenging. Already from about 9 am the light becomes too bright and hazy with no contrasts and too much reflection on the animals and landscape. One doesn’t need to take a photo to see it, it just looks like that for most of the day.

The normal exposure settings you use and can use during the golden hour cannot master this challenging light. You got to adjust. One option is adjusting the aperture. Just go 1 or 2 f-stops higher to get more saturated colors, but be careful not to overdo it. Another option is to work with exposure compensation, especially when photographing animal close-ups and their faces are too bright with no texture. This works also well with elephant and rhino. Their grey skin reflects a lot and on the picture it looks very shiny.

Unfortunately there is no way in practicing that before going on safari. There is no other place with this light and you will agree, once arrived for example in the Masai Mara.
Maybe one more advice. Don’t expect that what you usually do with your photography will work in the bush. Be prepared that all will be different. This will help already to avoid frustration.

Happy wildlife snapping!

Ute Sonnenberg for