Alan Murphy
Australia AU
Sep 10, 2015 September 10, 2015

Alan Murphy is a Lonely Planet author and expert on Southern Africa and its wildlife. In 2013 he established Roundtrip Foundation. Check out www.roundtripfoundation.org.au.

Category: Alan Murphy's Column

Ever wondered what you need to do for that flawless photo on safari? Alan helps you capture that special moment. Okay, here’s the thing…you want to take a great photo of a leopard on a kill, a brilliantly coloured kingfisher dive-bombing its next meal, or maybe just how close that lion came to the safari vehicle.

Why? To show family and friends back home of course! Nothing better than hearing woooow, oooohhhh, whhaaaat??? That close??!!

Come on, you spend all this money to go on safari in Africa – there must be some kudos when you get home! That glow of satisfaction that you’ve returned to nature, confronted nature’s toughest test in Africa, seen off stampeding buffalo, charging elephants…Best not to mention the sunset cocktails…

Photography Tips
In this day and age of digital cameras, smartphones and tablets getting that close up of a wandering wildebeest in the wild has never been easier. Here are a few tips to get you going:

  • Make sure the memory card in your device is large enough for plenty of photos. That way you won’t need to cull while on safari, you can do it later, back home.
  • For the best chance of capturing that perfect moment, take lots and lots of pics.
  • Know your camera. Haul out the instruction manual before you’re sitting in the back of a safari vehicle! What sort of zoom range does your camera possess? Do you know how to set it on manual so you can change the aperture and shutter speed?
  • Try the camera in the backyard at different times of the day, preferably with an animal such as a cat or dog as your subject, so you can hone your technique.
  • Be patient and don’t be too disappointed when that retiring rhino melts back into the bush. There will be other opportunities. Stay alert.
  • Read up on the animals you would like to see and their behaviour. By understanding their behaviour and habits you will have a better chance of predicting their whereabouts and their actions.
  • Make sure your guide knows when and for how long you want to stop…it’s your safari, you are paying for it.
  • Early morning and late afternoon is the best time for photography when the light is about right and the animals are most likely on the move.
  • When taking a close-up, focus on the animal’s eyes – this usually makes for the most engaging photo.
  • Don’t just centre the animal in all your photos, read up on a few basics of composition.
  • Think creatively about what will make a good photo: a spider spinning a web in a shaft of sunlight might just be your best picture

Photographic Safari
If you are looking for a specialist photographic safari, do a thorough search on the Internet. Some companies will accommodate photographers while others – such as Dave Burns Photo Tours – are specifically designed for budding, and professional photographers.