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Top 5 Tips for Photographing Animals in Africa

If you’re going on a once-in-a-lifetime safari in Africa, capturing great photos of your experience is a must. Majestic lions, leaping leopards, gigantic gentle elephants, and magical African sunsets make for jaw-dropping photos that you’ll treasure forever. Africa is the world’s best destination for photographers of all skill levels. With today’s advanced digital cameras, getting amazing wildlife shots is easier than ever. With a bit of planning and know-how you’ll get images so good, they’ll look like they belong on the pages of National Geographic.

Here’s how to do it:

Pack It In

Bringing the right camera equipment is essential to getting great shots that last. Use a tripod, window mount and image stabilizer to get crisp, clear photos. A long lens (300 or 400mm) is good, and longer ones may be even better helps you to get closer shots of amazing animals that are off in the distance. You don’t want to change lenses too much, however, so if you have a standard lens and a long lens, you may want to take two camera bodies. Bring extra memory cards so that you have lots of space for multiple shots. You’ll need them!

Get To Know Your Camera

Just bought a brand new camera for your Africa tour? Great! Now it’s time to practice using it before you embark on your trip. Really get to know your camera and its functions. Experiment with different settings. Try to imagine the type of lighting and subject conditions you will experience on your holiday, and experiment at home to perfect your technique. Photograph your cat or dog in the backyard to get an in-depth understanding how your camera works. For extra practice, you could even take a trip to the zoo! It’ll all pay off when you’re face-to-face with a lion and capture the photo of your dreams.

Lions, Tigers and Zebras, Oh My!

Wild animals can be unpredictable – that’s what makes them exciting. They may suddenly appear and then disappear just as quickly. But knowing the behaviour of the animal you are trying to photograph can go a long way toward capturing that winning shot. Talk to your guide about how to best capture the particular animal you’re looking for. Be patient and take your time. Remember that even professional photographers take hundreds of photos to get that one winning photo. It can take some extra effort but the results will be well worth it.

The Golden Hour

The best time to take photos is in the early morning and late afternoon. This is when the natural light is best for taking photos, and when the animals are most active. Morning and evening game drives are perfect opportunities to avoid the strong shadows and glare that occurs at midday. The soft, diffused light of the golden hour (also known as the magic hour) will make your subjects appear to glow. At sunset, you can capture some amazing silhouettes on the savanna. Give it a try!

Photograph Family Too

Though you’ll surely be captivated by the presence of graceful giraffes, awe-inspiring herds of wildebeest crossing the plains of the Serengeti, or a powerful pack of lions taking down a zebra, don’t forget to include people in some of your photos. Decades from now, you’ll treasure photos of your family or friends enjoying the scenery or wildlife more than photos of the animals themselves! Showing people in the same shot as wildlife can also show off the sheer size of the animals. Of course, use common sense around wild animals and ask your guide for help if you need it. Better yet, ask your guide to take a photo of your whole family together. Make the most of your African safari tour with your loved ones, and remember to set down your camera once in a while and take in the full experience. You’ll create memories – and photos – that will last a lifetime!


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