An African Photographic Safari

I have been travelling to Africa photographing wildlife for over twenty years and the information detailed on this page is advice for those wishing to travel to Africa in the hope of obtaining good wildlife photographs whilst on safari. The information is quite simple but if considered it will ensure you will give yourself the best chances of success.

A Video Slideshow of Mammal Photographs from Africa

Choosing a Photographic Safari in Africa

One of the most important criteria when selecting your destination for a photographic safari is the time of year and the location. The reason, wildlife are on a constant quest for food and water and seasonal changes impact on the quantity of wildlife in a particular area. For the photographer the more wildlife you encounter the more photographs you will be able to take and therefore increase the chances of success. If however, the wildlife is sparse the resultant images may be few and you could return home disappointed.

The most well known seasonal animal movement is the wildebeest migration between the Serengeti and the Masai Mara, where each year the wildebeest travel over 1000 miles between the two locations in search of good grazing. So, if you arrive in the Masai Mara in February or the Southern Serengeti in October the plains will be void of game apart from the resident species, so these times are not the optimum photographic time to visit each location.

The wildebeest migration is not the only wildlife movement in Africa, many other locations have similar patterns. In the African dry season wildlife gather near water sources such as waterholes and rivers but in the wet season these animals disappear into the bush, sometimes making sightings almost impossible.



Solution

The key to success is research, find out more about the destination and the prime time to visit, there is so much valuable information on the internet to help find the ideal location and right time of year.

Safari Photography

Sharpness


I have learnt the hard way and if there is one thing that can be very annoying is to find on returning home that the photograph you think could be a 'Winner' turns out to be quite soft and unusable. If you shoot in camera RAW there are many aspects of your image that can be tweaked to make that image look impressive but one thing even Photoshop cannot do is to make an unsharp photograph sharp.

Therefore, the solution is to do all that is practical at the time of taking the shot to ensure your photographs are as sharp as possible.


I go to a lot of trouble to ensure my images are sharp, the most important aid to sharpness is good camera support, freehand photography must be avoided at all cost. The longer the lens the more vital good support becomes. I have a range of clamps and camera mounts which I use all the time in the safari vehicle, failing that, a good sized solid bean bag will always be my second choice.


Mode of Transport On Safari

The vehicle in which you travel will impact on your photography. An open vehicle with all round viewing capability is the best option, whereas an enclosed vehicle with glass windows can restrict your photographic options and therefore your success. Also, the number of fellow travellers in the vehicle has an impact, the more people in the vehicle the greater the negative impact on your photography. Companies that aim to fill every seat should be avoided, even six guests in a vehicle can be challenging photographically.