For modern-day explorers such as yourself, wanting to come and delve into the splendor that is Africa and photograph it, here are some tips to help you plan the safari of your dreams.
You need to pick the right outfitter.
I cannot stress this enough when planning your trip to photograph African wildlife, to choose an operator that knows what they are doing. For example; knowing more than just the basics about camera manipulation and operation, how to position you for the best photo possible, habits and behavior of all species, and knowledge of the area. Not only will this make your experience more enjoyable, but it will also give you a chance to learn from them about the nuances of the African Bush. On a personal note, I would also tell you to choose an outfitter that provides a more intimate experience with smaller group sizes. Some things are just better that way.
Bring the right camera gear.
Chances are if you are about to travel 8,000 miles to photograph wildlife in Africa you probably already have a good set up. However, for those of you who don’t here are some guidelines. Depending on your skill level, a DSLR camera like a Canon 5d MII, Nikon D7500, Or Sony A7III are all fantastic choices. Although point and shoot cameras such as the Sony RX100 VI or the Lumix DMC- FZ2500 are great cameras as well and offer some of the same specs.
If you’re planning on bringing a semi-pro or professional body, you need to make sure that you bring a variety of quality lenses to match where you’re going. For example, if you are heading to the Masai Mara in Kenya, you’ll need a range of 24mm-800 this should cover every shot needed. However, for areas like ours distances considerably shorter than Kenya so a range of 24mm-300mm should suit you just fine. Bringing a macro lens is a good idea as well because there are many colorful species of insects, lizards, and plants that make amazing photos if up close and personal.
Speaking of cameras and lenses, something that is definitely worth it’s weight in gold is ND filters. These are essentially sunglasses for your camera. The sun here in Africa is intense and to have the ability to keep your aperture as low as possible is an advantage that you definitely want to have.
Bring you Chargers and Adapters.
Suprisingly enough one of the most obvious things is also something that is often left behind. I’m talking about chargers and plug adapters/converters. Most of Southern Africa’s electricity runs on 220v, not 110v, so if you buy the wrong adapter your chargers can blow up, (Spoken from personal experience.) Here’s a link for South Africa’s Type M outlet adapter/converter.
If you can, find a charger that can charge multiple batteries at once and invest in some batteries. Sometimes you will be out all day, and if you’re snapping photos for 8 hours, straight two or three batteries just won’t cut it.
Tip # 4
Invest in your memory.
No not your memory, the memory of your camera. You need to think about investing in memory cards; We had a client that was here for five days and took over 3000 photos. Shot in RAW that could add up to quite a hefty GB bill. So make sure to bring cards that have a lot of storage and fast writing speeds like 95mbs and higher. Memory cards like this can be expensive, but when you’re putting pictures that you want to last a lifetime on a memory card, quality is priceless. Having a card fail and lose your photos or videos is not a good feeling. Here’s a link to the SD cards we use.
Tip # 5
Consolidate your equipment.
The last piece of equipment that I find priceless is a camera backpack. Polar Pro has got a great option at a pretty affordable price. The DroneTrekker backpack allows you to keep all of your camera gear in one place and keeps it organized, enabling you to grab gear without having to look. This will enable you to keep your eye on the animal even if you have to change lenses or grab your binos.
Enjoy every minute
It can be nerve racking to be in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people. But immerse yourself into the experience. Ask questions, be in the moment, and make sure you enjoy every second. Africa is full of amazing sights and sounds. Become in tune with your surroundings and let Africa sink into your soul. You won’t regret it.