Africa is the ideal location for both budding and seasoned photographers, from its vast and varied landscapes to the thrilling wildlife on offer; you certainly won’t run out of things to capture. Home of the Safari, here at Africa Travel we understand that you can’t end your trip of a lifetime without a few snaps of the Big Five! To help you return home and wow your friends, we have put together some tips to give your travel snaps the edge.
Firstly, you’re going to have to come armed with some decent equipment. As most photographers know, the money is in the glass. Have a good lens and you’ve won half the battle! Try and use a long lens or one with a decent zoom. A real pro will get themselves something like a 500mm or an 800mm+ zoom, which is great if you have the spare cash, but don’t worry as a shorter zooms – 200mm/300mm – will suffice!
For those than don’t have the means to get a long lens (since they can cost you an arm and a leg) or those that prefer to shoot on a mobile phone or a point and shoot camera, then the below tips should still be enough to improve the shots you take.
2. Location & Framing
Just by thinking a little more about your framing, you can seriously up your photography game. Consider your location; whether it is the plains of the Serengeti, the wild parks of Kenya or even whale watching off the coast of South Africa, you need to portray some sort of context to the viewer. The trees, the mountaintops, the vast ocean – these points of information don’t just look appealing but act as a narrative to tell your story – don’t exclude them from the image!
And do keep your composition in mind; centre framing isn’t always the best way to go. Be a little creative. That wild pack of zebra you caught as you made your way across the Zomba Plateau of Malawi will look far more striking framed to the side of your image – rather than playing it safe and keeping them dead centre. And with the luxury of modern, digital photography, you can now shoot a huge variety of different angles and compositions and see which one you like best.
3. Use of lines/patterns
Some of the most interesting photographs are those that play in amusing or intriguing ways with the use of lines or patterns. Look for patterns in the grass, or the formation of the animals. Also consider ‘leading lines’ – these are lines within your photograph which lead a viewers eye further into the image. Research about the ‘Rule of Thirds’ before you depart – to see how to use this technique to produce more appealing images.
The technique of panning is essentially following your moving subject with your camera. Consider a bird in flight, gliding across the sky. Look through your viewfinder; get your subject locked in focus and then pan across the sky with the bird to get your shot. This is a great technique to capture the movement and action of animals, and if you’re successful, creating a beautiful blurred background and a tack sharp animal bounding across the African plains.
Our advice with this technique is to practise at home before you head to Africa – it can be a little tricky to get it right! There is a whole world of resources on how to produce successful panning pictures online, and it’s worth getting a decent understanding now – to save precious time when you get out there.
5. Patience – and clothing
If this isn’t your first time to Africa to explore the abundance of wildlife on offer, then you will know already that patience plays a large part when on safari. It’s a bit of a waiting and watching game. Be patient, be discreet and be aware.
We recommend you wear light, lose clothing. Long sleeves and trousers will discourage those pesky mosquitos, and keep your warmer should the weather dip. Neutral colours will help you blend into the background and you may want to consider a camouflage bean bag, to rest your camera on as you wait. This is a worthwhile investment for photography enthusiasts out there that are planning on bringing a long lens, as they get pretty heavy!
6. Pack back ups!
Finally, simple but worth reminding you of – don’t forget to charge that battery! And bring spares. Be generous with the amount of memory cards you pack too, as you’re sure to over shoot when in Africa.
And, as much as we hope you capture some incredible images of your travels, do spend some time enjoying being in the moment – and not just through the viewfinder of your camera. Africa is pretty special – embrace it – and take home with you not just photographs but also wonderful memories and some great stories to share.
Talk to our Africa Travel specialists today to start planning your Photography Safari.