Nature photography on a wildlife safari

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

A once-in-a-lifetime trip to East Africa is on every enthusiast and keen Nature Photographer’s to do list. Going on safari during the drier months between July to October will guarantee more wildlife sightings and subsequently more opportunities to get good shots. Don’t forget your telephoto lenses to shoot from safe distances. Our driver guides are all extremely knowledgeable and know exactly how to place their vehicles depending on the lighting and subject for photographers to compose their images superbly. Sandbags for stability are available in our vehicles, which also have charging facilities. It is recommendable to bring your tripod for photography at the tented camp environs and for use at specific safe spots for iconic photographic opportunities.

Few countries can offer as many outstanding photo opportunities as Tanzania and Kenya – with over 50 national parks and reserves, both countries have places that are synonymous with wildlife. Coined originally by game hunters, the phrase ‘Big Five’ refers to the five most difficult African animals to hunt: Lion, Elephant, Buffalo, Rhino and Leopard. If you fancy ‘hunting’ them with your camera, East Africa is a deservedly popular destination, but there’s also so much more on offer to quench your photographic thirst. On a non-photo-specific safari, the drivers might not linger for quite so long and you could be heading back to the camp or lodge for breakfast while there are great shots still to be had in the wildife attractions.

ELUSIVE LEOPARD. “Capturing animal behavior, instead of simply the animal itself, is often what really makes a wildlife safari image more dynamic and interesting.” Shot details: Nikon D300S with 70-200mm lens at 200mm and f9, 1/500sec. ISO 200

Planning a photo trip to Tanzania and Kenya does merit a little research. There are plenty of package trips that usually combine safari with some rest and relax afterwards at a beach resort, but if you want to dedicate more of your time to taking wildlife alongside like-minded people. The good news is that Tima Tours and Safaris is able to custom-design a wildlife safari that wil take you to the best destinations for photography. Bear in mind that the typical downside of such trips is a slightly higher cost, so you have to decide what you want to gain from the trip and book accordingly. For serious wildlife photographers (and adventurers) though, you really can’t beat the experience of an authentic safari. Either way, you are sure to capture some fantastic images in these truly amazing destinations.

The Serengeti and Masai Mara Game Reserves are East Africa’s finest attractions and are wonderful places to indulge your passion for wildlife photography because you are almost guaranteed sightings of the big five (elephant, rhino, leopard, lion, buffalo) and much more. The TV Series: Big Cat Diaries and TALES BY LIGHT (Season 2, Episode 1&2) were filmed here, which enhances its popularity for photography. However, this can be challenging to photographers. If you’re lucky enough to be the first vehicle to spot a leopard or a pride of lions, it’s almost certain that you will be joined by several others soon, so our driver guides make sure they bag the best spot. Having a driver guide prepared to move around for the best vantage point is definitely a bonus.

LILAC-BREASTED ROLLER “Blurring off the background can be the game changer when it comes to making stunning images rather than snapshots.” Shot details: Nikon D300S with 70-200mm lens at 200mm and f5.6 1/500sec. ISO 200

The best times of day for lighting are the hour before sunset. In fact, if you want the very best lighting; the 15 or so minutes after sunrise or before sunset can be amazing and you’ll get a gorgeous ‘red light’. The lower light levels mean that you have to utilize the camera’s ISO feature setting to get suitably fast shutter speeds, to avoid the risk of camera shake or subject movement ruining your shots. Time is of the essence though, so shoot quickly. With low light and long lenses, you’ll need good support to avoid camCera shake. From the vehicle, the ideal way to do this is with a decent beanbag – the heavier the better. A monopod can be suitable for unique composition.

The best times of day for lighting are the hour before sunset. In fact, if you want the very best lighting; the 15 or so minutes after sunrise or before sunset can be amazing and you’ll get a gorgeous ‘red light’. The lower light levels mean that you have to utilize the camera’s ISO feature setting to get suitably fast shutter speeds, to avoid the risk of camera shake or subject movement ruining your shots. Time is of the essence though, so shoot quickly. With low light and long lenses, you’ll need good support to avoid camCera shake. From the vehicle, the ideal way to do this is with a decent beanbag – the heavier the better. A monopod can be suitable for unique composition.

At Tima Tours and Safaris we offer optional cultural visits to Maasai villages and there you will have the chance for some excellent people pictures. Obviously, you’ll see landscapes during game drives, but you won’t see many people, at least not in the parks themselves.

A YOUNG REGAL MALE LION. “When it comes to wildlife photography most of the time less means better and in this shot the Black & White monochrome makes the image more impressive.” Shot details: Nikon D300S with 70-200mm lens at 70mm and f8 1/500sec. ISO 200Unlike normal locations, you can’t just pick up your camera bag and wander off into the bush to indulge in some photography. There may be great light and a perfect foreground subject, but you just can’t leave the vehicle for the best camera viewpoint. Physical limitations apart, the disciplines of good landscape photography are the same as in any situation and much depends on the light.

Unlike normal locations, you can’t just pick up your camera bag and wander off into the bush to indulge in some photography. There may be great light and a perfect foreground subject, but you just can’t leave the vehicle for the best camera viewpoint while in the wildlife habitats. Physical limitations apart, the disciplines of good landscape photography are the same as in any situation and much depends on the light.

Sunrises and sunsets can be dramatic events and worth shooting, but you must not stare directly at the sun through the camera for long because you could cause irreparable eye damage. If you’re going to try this form of photography, only shoot when the sun is very low and veiled by clouds. If you have Live View, use it to frame your sunrise or sunset shots.