One of the most popular activities to do on safari is wildlife photography. Although it’s a fun hobby, it’s also a fantastic way to capture a fleeting moment in time, especially in the scenic South African bushveld. Getting the perfect shot of a lion stalking its prey, or a bird taking flight is definitely worth the tiresome wait. You don’t need to be professional or have the best equipment to reproduce a beautiful wildlife moment.
Here are a few tips for taking good wildlife photos:
Timing is everything. Photographic opportunities in the wild don’t happen in slow motion - it’s usually a fast and unexpected moment. It’s not ideal to be fiddling with the lighting on the camera while the action is happening, so set up your camera on your way to the safari game drive: check the lighting, speed and take a few test shots before you aim the lens at your subject.
Get to know the environment. Animals in the bushveld move at their own time and pace, but your trained guide will be able to indicate at what time you’ll be able to spot certain animals. For example, leopards are more active around dusk, so they are more ready for a close-up around sunset and dusk. Also, take note of animal’s behaviour. When birds are hovering around a waterhole and start to make sounds, they might be ready to take flight, so be aware of when is the best time to capture the moment.
Lighting is your friend. Lighting is extremely important when taking outdoor photographs. Sunrise and sunset are both great time to silhouette an animal against the ‘golden light’, illuminating the subject. Midday will offer different lighting, thus enabling you to get different shots.
Get up close. Do not get fixated on using a big lens. If you zoom out, you’ll be able to get a wider shot with more ambiance. You can angle your camera to get lower shots of animals on the ground, or tilt it up to capture those in trees.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself - enjoy the activity! Wildlife photography can be very rewarding and leave you with many lasting memories. Happy snapping!