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How to Take Great Shots on an African Safari

By 22nd Nov 2016 No Comments

Obeying the rule of thirds works for creatures great and small. While the leopard is a nocturnal creature, it is often spotted on early morning game drives.

While researching tips for inclusion in our blog, we came across an interesting statement by Virtuoso, the leading international travel agency network specialising in luxury and experiential travel, of which Camp Jabulani is a member.

According to Virtuoso’s 2016 Travel Dreams survey, the number five trip of a lifetime is photographing the big five on an African safari*.

We share some of the photo tips of travel photographer Dook**, who lives in South Africa and travels often to photograph the continent’s wildlife, so that you too can take great shots on your African safari to Camp Jabulani.

  • Plan your trip near the end of the dry season (it varies by country, your travel advisor can help), when less vegetation means more activity near watering holes.
  • If you’ve bought a new camera or lens for the trip, practise before you go. You won’t have time to read the manual when there’s a lion a few feet away.
  • If you have a DSLR camera but don’t have a long lens, rent one. Just make sure it has a fixed f-stop and vibration reduction. I like the 200 mm-400 mm F4 or 200 mm-500 mm F5.6. Make sure it’s covered by rental insurance.
  • Be sure to bring spare batteries; using the vibration reduction tool to minimise the blur caused by a shaky camera eats up power.
  • If you plan on printing out your photos, be sure your camera is set to take the highest quality image – in most cases that’s either raw or jpeg large.

Vervet monkey infants cling to their mothers’ bellies for four months, after which they are weaned and encouraged to walk by themselves.

  • Obey the rule of thirds. Don’t centre your point of interest in the frame, be it an animal, person, mountain, or something else. This simple composition technique makes a huge difference.
  • Don’t just take close-up animal photos. Zoom in and out, show where the animal is amongst the landscape and shoot in both landscape and portrait mode.
  • If you’re serious about taking wildlife photos, consider renting a private game vehicle, especially one that is allowed to go off-road to follow the big five. (At Camp Jabulani you will have your own private game vehicle driven by your own personal ranger.)
  • You’re on vacation; don’t pressure yourself into trying to capture a National Geographic-calibre photo. Tell a story: your trip isn’t just animals, it’s about your family, the lodging and its staff, the food you eat, and the entire journey.

The colourful lilac breasted roller, frequently sighted perched on a dead tree, surveying the area for prey, is a wonderful subject for photographers.

* (https://www.virtuoso.com/articles/Virtuoso-Dispatch/June-2016/African-Safari-Photo-Tips#.V6NEBMvr3IU)
** Dook is a contributor to Virtuoso Life, the award-winning magazine published six times a year. With a circulation of 175 000 sophisticated travellers, each issue features experiential luxury travel at its best, with tips and insight from Virtuoso advisors and travellers.

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