Image by Michael Hurren
Going on a South African wildlife safari is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one that you will remember forever. There is nothing quite like being mere metres away from a lion as it languishes under the hot sun or watching an elephant cool itself in the riverbank. If you’re planning an adventurous safari through the plains of South Africa, you need to plan ahead so you can capture every amazing moment and photograph each unforgettable wildlife encounter. We spoke to three wildlife photographers to get their tips on how to take photos that will take your breath away even after your safari has come to an end.
Choose your gear wisely
The most important thing when choosing your camera is making sure you have something lightweight and sturdy. Photographer Ante Badzim has had his own amazing safari adventures and is passionate about capturing those experiences on camera, sharing “the intimate moments you experience on safari stay with you forever… If I had to carry large heavy equipment I simply would not capture the images so freely and without limitations.” When asked his pick of a camera to take travelling, Badzim chooses the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. “Being lightweight and compact [this camera] allows me to get the shot with ease while still allowing me to be immersed in the moment.” Plus, this camera is splashproof, dustproof and freezeproof, so there’s no need to carry protective gear and you can focus on keeping an eye on your subject instead of watching out for your camera.
Have patience… But be prepared to act quickly
One of the best parts of going on safari is that you never know what you will see next. You might turn a corner to see a group of zebras galloping across the plains or a baby rhino taking its first wobbly steps. That’s why it pays to have a camera with good image stabilisation and focus – because wild animals don’t waste time striking a pose! Cinematographer and photographer Michael Hurren says “my favourite camera kit to photograph on Safari is the Olympus OM-D E-M1X with the M.Zuiko Digital 300mm f/4.0 IS Pro ED and MC-14 M.Zuiko Digital 1.4x Teleconverter. This combination gives me huge reach so I can see right in the animal’s eyes, and combined with the camera’s stabilization, keeps me getting sharp shots from the vehicle.” Plus, this camera has a Pro Capture feature that will allow you to instantly take sharp images and record up to 35 previous frames – ideal for getting the perfect shot of a running cheetah or a roaring lion.
Think about theme
During your safari, you will probably be tempted to take photos of everything and anything you come across. That is a great way to make sure you record every moment of your trip, but it’s also worth taking some time to analyse your images to see if any themes emerge. Photographer Lisa Michele Burns shared her first safari experience saying “the plan was to let the scene play out and see what elements appealed most. To take a step back and observe for a little while before composing images, to really see what magic the African savannah would reveal in front of my lens… To really capture a cohesive and creative portfolio of how I saw this experience, I waited until one consistent theme caught my attention and on the second day, that theme became very clear – the relationship between mother and baby. Wrinkly little elephant calves tucked beneath their mother’s giant legs, fuzzy zebra foals and their timid nature and the animal that sucked me in completely…a two-week-old baby rhino.” Using her Olympus OM-D E-M1 MKII, Burns was able to ensure her images were always sharp and blur-free. With its industry-leading 5-Axis Image Stabilization system, this camera adjusts for all types of camera movement, leaving Burns the freedom to capture unsteady subjects like baby rhinos and elephants.
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