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8 Photography Tips on a Game Drive

Posted By adventureswithben On May 31, 2011 @ 7:00 am In Africa,Animal Encounters,Nature,Photography,South Africa,Travel Tips | Comments Disabled

 8 Photography Tips on a Game Drive [1]

If you could only visit one country in the world, South Africa should be it, for a lot of reasons. But chief among them, is the opportunity to encounter wild animals. Take one look at my Lion Encounter at Pilanesberg National Park [2]and you’ll see why. A trip to South Africa is not complete without a visit to a game reserve (golf cart safaris don’t count [3]). Of course, you’ll want to document your experience with pictures, so here are 8 tips for taking envy-worthy photographs for your next game drive.

1. Bring a Telephoto Lens

I’m not going to budge on this one. You really need a SLR camera with a telephoto lens to increase your odds of taking “the perfect shot”. I shoot with a Canon Rebel xTi 300mm zoom. The difference in the quality of your photographs is night and day. Take a look.

Photo #1 – A Standard, Pocket Digital Camera Taken with Maximum Zoom

 8 Photography Tips on a Game Drive [4]

Photo #2 – The Same Image Taken with My Telephoto Lens

 8 Photography Tips on a Game Drive [5]

Notice how much closer the camera is able to get with the zoom lens? Wild animals don’t always get close to the camera, so if you want to capture really detailed shots, you need the right equipment. When you have it, you can bring home photos like this…

 8 Photography Tips on a Game Drive [6]

So you can’t afford the zoom lens? Don’t fret, your photography opportunities aren’t ruined. You’ll just need to be more understanding and patient in framing the perfect shot. One of my favorite photos features a mother and baby rhino with my pocket camera. I intentionally wanted to capture the two of them with the expansive bush behind them.

 8 Photography Tips on a Game Drive [7]

2. Shoot During Sunset/Sunrise

 8 Photography Tips on a Game Drive [8]

There are 2 reasons why shooting during these times of the day are preferable.

  1. Animals are most active during sunrise and sunset, so there’s a stronger chance you’ll actually see them.
  2. More importantly, the lighting is most magical.

Ever wonder how National Geographic captures such beautiful images? It’s because they’re being taken during sunset or sunrise. The light from the sun is warm and not as harsh as midday. Your photos will naturally look a million times better. Consider it a photographer’s trick.

Once the sun gets too high, I rarely take photos of animals, The light is too harsh and the animals are washed out. Instead, I follow photography tip #8.

If you’ve never been on a game drive, you’ll probably have your camera out the whole time. But if you want to take high-quality shots, it’s not worth the time and effort.

3. Always Be At the Ready

 8 Photography Tips on a Game Drive [9]

You never know when something great is about to happen. Leave your camera on and have it by your side so you can quickly point and shoot (bringing extra batteries is essential, as are these other packing necessities [10]). Animals don’t repeat their behaviors a second time because you weren’t fast enough!

4. Focus on the Eyes

 8 Photography Tips on a Game Drive [11]

When taking pictures of animals (and people), always focus on the eyes. The eyes give the subject character and help create a story. The hornbill above is staring at me quite angrily, as if it didn’t want it’s picture taken.

5. Look for Patterns

 8 Photography Tips on a Game Drive [12]

Sometimes it’s not always about the whole animal, but just a portion. Here is a close-up of some zebra stripes. I think it adds intrigue.

6. Silhouettes are Just as Good

 8 Photography Tips on a Game Drive [13]

Don’t let bad lighting disappoint you. Try for a silhouette. This photography style adds some nice variety to your photo album. Shoot into the sun at twilight.

6. Use the Impala as Practice

 8 Photography Tips on a Game Drive [14]

The impala are known as “The McDonald’s of the Reserve” since they are everywhere (just like McDonald’s). On your first drive, you’ll naturally want to stop and take pictures of them. But the novelty of spotting them will quickly wear off since you will see them e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e.

So use this opportunity to practice your technique on real, living subject. Focus on the eyes, what patterns do you see, how else can you frame your shot to make it interesting. Then, when the really big animals cross your path, you’ll already know how to shoot them.

7. Document More than Animals

 8 Photography Tips on a Game Drive [15]

Tell a story about your adventure in the bush by taking photos of the truck, your driver, animal tracks or anything else that is of interest.

8. Enjoy the Moment

 8 Photography Tips on a Game Drive [16]

Just like taking a photo of Uluru [17](or any location for that matter), remember to put the camera down and really watch the animals of the reserve. It’s because of the animals why I love South Africa so much. Let nature move you. Celebrate the moment, you’re in Africa!

Know of any other photography hints for a safari trip? Share by commenting.

I’ll see you out there…!


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URL to article: http://adventureswithben.com/photography/photography-tips-game-drive/

URLs in this post:

[1] : http://adventureswithben.com/photography/photography-tips-game-drive/

[2] my Lion Encounter at Pilanesberg National Park : http://adventureswithben.com/adventure/track-lions-game-reserve/

[3] golf cart safaris don’t count: http://adventureswithben.com/you-tube/hans-morensky-golf-cart-safari/

[4] Image: http://adventureswithben.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Giraffe1.jpg

[5] Image: http://adventureswithben.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Giraffe2.jpg

[6] Image: http://adventureswithben.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/IMG_0788.jpg

[7] Image: http://adventureswithben.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Rhino.jpg

[8] Image: http://adventureswithben.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/IMG_0843.jpg

[9] Image: http://adventureswithben.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/At-the-Ready.jpg

[10] these other packing necessities: http://adventureswithben.com/adventure/pack-game-drive/

[11] Image: http://adventureswithben.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/BirdLook.jpg

[12] Image: http://adventureswithben.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/ZebraStripes.jpg

[13] Image: http://adventureswithben.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Giraffe-Silouette.jpg

[14] Image: http://adventureswithben.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Impala.jpg

[15] Image: http://adventureswithben.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Lion-Tracks.jpg

[16] Image: http://adventureswithben.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Spotting.jpg

[17] taking a photo of Uluru : http://adventureswithben.com/photography/picture-uluru/

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