Photography Tips

African Photo Safari
Money Saving
and Photography Tips
for on your Safari
1.      1. Go digital.
The only way to go is digital. Take that 35mm film camera to a garage sale. Digital pictures offer you the ability to crop and touch pics up with Windows Picture viewer or the software program that came with your camera. Storage and culling ability while still in the field is another benefit. Invest in multiple 2 gigabyte cards so you can store your photos in separate places and enjoy some security. Another great idea is to take a portable hard drive and copy and paste you pics there daily so you have a back up, should you experience a malfunction or theft. One photo may be worth the price of your camera.
2.    2. Buy a Pro-Sumer camera and save big bucks.
You have two choices, a professional camera or a Pro-Sumer camera (a camera with a sizable zoom lens and manual/auto features). A professional camera with interchangeable lens will set you back $3,000 or more US dollars. A nice Nikon body will run you around 1-2K and will give you the ability to change from a portrait lens to a telephoto. The problem is that there is a big learning curve and you'll need to study up on your camera for a few months prior to your trip.
The other choice is to purchase a Pro-Sumer digital camera that comes with a powerful zoom lens. These cameras are a ‘beefed up’ point and shoot camera but can capture wonderful pictures. They have an auto mode that may work for most circumstances plus they all have manual settings. Learn your camera before arriving. YouTube probably has a course on your camera you can watch. Cannon, Nikon and Pentax all offer these easy to use digital cameras. Cost may range from $400-$800. Look for an 8 or more megapixel camera. I have had great service out of the Cannon Powershot series of cameras.

    3. 3. Choose a safari that doesn't include air travel after you arrive in Africa.
Africa is a big place and it will capture your imagination. In other words you'll be back. You wouldn't come to America for two weeks and expect to see the Grand Canyon, Great Smokies and Denali Park in one visit so why would you try to visit three parks in different countries in Africa in a two week period? Your best value is to book a safari that explores one region and does it well. We recommend seeing the countryside, visiting with a variety of people not just big safari camps. The people are the highlight of Africa. Visit a small town, shop in some of the open markets, meet lion breeders, silk weavers, wildlife vets and rangers. All photo safaris have adequate time built in to see wildlife but don’t miss the flavor of Africa. Go slowly and make friends, share campfires and listen to the lions roar.
4. 4. Book your safari during the off-season.
Airfare can cost almost as much as the safari if you're traveling from
California to South Africa in July. You are paying peak season fares and the accommodations in Africa are the same. The law of supply and demand is at work here. Here is an option. Look at booking a safari during the off-season or a shoulder season. In South Africa for example, you may be able to save $800-$1000 on RT airfare by booking your trip in late September or October rather than in July. If you’re traveling with a family that may be around 4-5K. There are a limited number of seats on those big jets and the airline knows that June, July and August are going to be busy so they charge more. We schedule shoulder season safaris because of that fact plus the parks are just as beautiful but there are less tourists.
5.    5. Wildlife shots.
You will have a lot of good opportunities to photograph the wildlife but the great opportunities will come less often. You have to be ready to get that ‘great’ shot. That situation will not occur every day or maybe never again. If your camera is buried in a bag you may not have time to get the lion charging a Cape Buffalo. Keep your point and shoot camera on Auto and switch to Manual if you have time. Many times you'll have a lot of brush clutter in the shot and you may want to flatten the depth of field. You can do this by opening up the aperture a stop and managing the light with the ISO or shutter speed. Most great wildlife pics are close-ups. Don't be afraid to zoom in and just get the Elephants eye and one tusk. The shots where the subject is smaller than ¼ screen height are difficult to win with. Look to include multiple animals in a pic with one as he subject. Mix it up and don't always center the subject. A lion in the lower right corner and zebras as the subject in the upper left may be the winning formula.
6.      6. Photographing People.
Most people will be happy to be photographed but don't assume that everyone wants you to photograph them. Most people don't require that you give them a dollar to be your subject. One good plan is to use your telephoto and not violate personal space with your foreign body. When photographing people you may want to include the background to help tell a story. Many people will be colorfully dressed and at midday under full sunlight you may want to bring out the color by using a polarizing filter. If you're in close using a fill flash to brighten faces can sometimes turn a so-so picture into a winner.
7.  7. Lean towards private safaris.
With private safaris, your guide is part of the company. Africa has thousands of tour companies. Some are great but most are a big business. Big business means some hourly employee who may be pumping gas next week will likely host you. A dud as a tour guide will ruin a great holiday. It's all about the
people. The tour guide with Dark Continent Explorer is a local Afrikaner with a family and a passion for people. He has the highest level of certification but even more important he is a people person. Being hosted by someone who is part of the business, guarantees that they will be putting your best interest in front of their own. You are their friend and they are yours. This is what makes a great guide, a vested interest in your adventure. If you like the idea that your guide wins when you do then you must book a custom safari and not a cookie-cutter photo tour with a part time tour guide.

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