6 Tips for some great wildlife photos

Did you capture it?

So often when we go for a game drive, by the time I have my camera set up, or my cell phone switched on, that magnificent kudu bull staring straight at us, has moved off and all there is to see is his rump, half hidden by bushes. Or the magnificent Marshall Eagle, so stately on that branch right on the side of the road … has flown off! So here are some tips for you (and for me, too!) to brush up on some basic photography skills, to ensure that all those memories are captured flawlessly!

1. Time of Day
There is truth in the saying ‘the early bird catches the worm’. Getting up at the crack of dawn and being on that early morning game drive is the best way to experience all that nature has to offer. Most animals are more active at dawn and dusk and this generally increases the likelihood of you spotting some of the best animal sightings and getting that oh so perfect photo opportunity.

Acacia at Sunset

2. Camera Settings
The light will change throughout the day, especially if you are shooting from early in the morning. Be aware of the time of day you are shooting and adjust your camera settings accordingly to fit the light conditions. Doing a few ‘lighting tests’ at various intervals is suggested, in between animal sightings – this way you’re always ready and prepared!

3. Be Quick
Whether you’re enjoy shooting birds or predators, by setting your camera to a quick-frame rate, this will give you the highest and best chance of freezing the movement thereby ensuring that you get that perfect action shot

Most disheartening is that when you’ve witnessed a special moment and thought that you actually captured it only to look at your back-LCD panel of the camera to realise that you’ve missed that crucial action entirely.

4. Gear Talk
Your lens is going to determine whether or not you get that perfect shot. No matter if you are using a DSLR or a cropped sensor, animals are not going to climb out of the bushes and pose so you can get that Getaway Magazine worthy image (how we wish!) – they’re a shy bunch. Have your zoom or telephoto lens fitted and ready! It is rare that we can get really close to wildlife when on a drive, so those lenses are essential.

If you don’t own a telephoto lens or you are not a technical expert, don’t worry – renting a lens for the weekend is always an option. Contact your local camera shop who will be able to assist you in finding the correct lens to compliment your camera.

5. Stability
A long telephoto lenses most often often puts pressure on the body of your camera, so in order to protect your camera, it is important to give the lens some support. By doing this, you will add stability and will also help with image sharpness.

  • Helpful tips:
    • While having your window open, lean into a corner of the window; using your elbow to prop you up. Alternatively, you can position   your lens on the car’s side mirror, or edge of the door and click away
    • It is easy to overlook or forget items. Before venturing out, always double-check that you have a charged battery in the camera and an empty memory card handy
    • Once you’ve got all your photography equipment ready the only thing left to do is have some fun! While it is important to capture all these incredible sightings, don’t forget to also live in the moment.

6. Knowledge is power
While you anxiously wait to get behind the camera and back into nature, there is absolutely no harm in up-skilling yourself. Take a few online courses that will help you improve your photography skills, knowledge of the equipment and even best of all learn more about the animals you intend to shoot!

Google is full of information and a search will yield some really fantastic results on where you can do credible courses, which will put you way ahead for your next adventure!

Please remember and be mindful at all times, that when you’re entering the Reserve at Royal Jozini, you are also entering the home of our animals. Always abide by the basic game drive etiquettes when trying to get your perfect shot.

Care to share any of your best wildlife photography tips or photos taken at Royal Jozini? We would love to see them and, with your permission, to showcase them! Drop us an email at stay@royaljozini.com or WhatsApp to +27 82 550 4614