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African Safari Photo Notes

Discussion in 'Special Sessions, Events, and Tour Announcements' started by bobhoge, Nov 3, 2005.

  1. Several of you commented on the photos from our trip to Africa that you would like to go there someday. Here are some notes related to safari photography that you might find helpful in trip planning. I hope that others who have been there will add their experiences to the knowledge base in this thread.

    Our experience was quite limited; two days a Stanley Camp in the Okavanga Delta of Botswana, a half day in the Mosi-o-Tunya Zoological Park near Livingstone, Zambia, and a day at the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania.
    We were in the dry season.

    In all three places, you did virtually all of the shooting from safari vehicles. All of our drivers were quite knowledgable about the wildlife. They were very photo aware, they tried to keep us from shooting into the sun and would turn off the engine to cut down on vibration when stopped.

    It was very dusty. I had a lens pen and used the brush end often to keep the dust off the camera body and the front UV filter. You really don't want to change lenses, both because of the dust and the rough ride. There are no paved roads, only wheel tracks that are very bumpy. I tried to write on a note pad what birds and animals we were seeing so that I could identify the odd ones in my photos when I got home. I would try to print one letter at a time "between bumps"...my notes looked like a pre-schoolers. (Still helped a lot!) No way to get a good shot while underway.

    Nan used the 80-400VR and I used the 70-200 AFS-VR with the 1.7TC (120-340 effective look). They seemed about right for many of the shots, but there were some "All-you-got" situations. The VR really helped since there seemed no way to use a tripod. I think a monopod might work especially in the open type of safari vehicle.

    There were two different types of safari vehicle. The open type:
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    which was used in Stanley Camp (& Baines Camp which shared a landing strip with Stanley Camp) and in Zambia. Be aware that with the snorkle air intake, they can submerge up to the bottom of the first row of back seats when fording streams. Be prepared to get all your gear (and your feet) off the floor quickly! You shoot seated in this vehicle

    The closed type was used in the Crater in Tanzania.
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    There were two versions:
    1) like the green one in the middle had a large open hole over the three rows of seats with a raised lid to provide shade. This would be the choice if it was sunny.
    2) like the brown one to the right that had three openings, one over each row of seats and the cover folded over in front and behind. No sun protection, but no posts to shoot around and you can see flying birds. We were in this type; three times I hit my head on the cross member between the seats when I jumped up to shoot...it was padded but still hurt! It was overcast, so the sun protection did not matter for us. The driver in the afternoon vehicle had beanbags to lay the cameras on.
    You shoot standing in both of these vehicles.

    The wildlife often came very close to the vehicles. It seems like the critters don't see the vehicle as a threat and consider it one inanimate object as long as we don't make a lot of noise and rapid movement or try to get out.

    All of the drivers carried bottled water, but there was no other food or beverage allowed while underway, again to keep the animals from learning to associate the people with food. I think this is normal, but may have been part of the "package" we bought.

    I'll add more as I think of it and please ask questions if something is unclear.
    Bob & Nan
  2. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    wow what a trip..

    You two went on one heck of an adventure ..

    I think I will be satisfied to see your images .

    Just like being there. Well almost :>)
  3. general


    Apr 30, 2005
    Photo Safari

    Anyone interested in going to Africa and Kenya in particular should take a look at www.hoothollow.com where Joe and Mary Ann McDonald have their home page. I went to Kenya with them in 2002 and it was fantastic. They are also competitive in pricing. Both are accomplished photographers and I recommend them (I have been with them on several photo shoots here in the U.S. since then). I have no financial connection with McDonald Wildlife Photography; just friends.
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