Shoot wildlife photos like a pro with these simple tips

Southern Africa provides plenty of opportunity for experiencing breath-taking nature, majestic wildlife and the hospitality of our people. Arriving back home we start looking through all the photos we took on our journey, and too often they just don’t come out right – they are shaky and out of focus, the colour is wrong and the one leg of the giraffe is missing. The good news is that you do not have to be a professional photographer to come home with a collection of masterpieces.

Here are some useful tips for when you are out in the wild, to help you to be prepared to capture some magic moments.

Firstly, let’s think about LIGHT. The best time of day for all photography is what is known as the GOLDEN HOUR. There are two – from sunrise for 60 minutes and then again for 60 minutes before sunset. At this time there is a warm golden hue over everything and it is flattering for portraits (eliminates wrinkles) – landscapes and great for silhouettes.

Kudu late afternoon sun

Prepare ahead of time – know when it’s going to be sunrise and sunset and get to your designated spot well beforehand.
When the sun is still an hour or so before setting, this is the best time for portraits. (Set camera to AUTO, cloudy/shade, flash off, ISO100)
As the sun comes down towards the horizon, then use this light for landscape and sunset shots. Zoom out to get all the sky (set camera to MANUAL, ISO100, Cloudy/shade). If possible, set your camera on a tripod and set to F8 or F11 speed 1/1000 – take a test shot. As the light starts to rapidly drop down, adjust shutter speed.

Jun e 2013 sunset - Copy


OK, so you only have an automatic point and shoot? To get those beautiful sunset shots when the sun is still a little higher, point the camera slightly to one side of the setting sun, then hold button half way down, and slide back across to put the sun back into the shot. Press all the way down and take the picture. As the sun sets lower, then you can also do some great silhouette shots. These sunset pictures were taken with a Smart phone at Royal Jozini:-





When it comes to animals, wildlife photography is one of the most challenging yet rewarding forms of nature photography. The best wildlife images create a powerful emotional connection between the viewer and the animal, but success requires planning, timing, and technique. Here are a few tips for getting started:

1. Keep Shooting
Expect to burn through a lot of memory cards shooting wildlife. You never know exactly when the body position, the facial expression, and the composition of the image in front of you will all come together. Continuous shooting, extra batteries and many, fast memory cards will improve your odds of getting an effective image. It could be that you only get one or two great shots out of a hundred!

2. The Eye Has It
Like human portraits, wildlife portraits gain life by making a connection between the viewer and the animal, and as with humans, the window to that connection is the eye. When the practical needs of nature photography (super-telephoto lenses, wide apertures) leave the photographer with a very narrow depth of field it is almost always essential that the eye, if nothing else, be in focus.

3. Understand Your Subject
With wildlife, particularly big game, learn a bit about your subject beforehand for the safety of the animals, for your own safety, and for better photographs. In any game park in Africa, you will need to stay in your vehicle unless you are in a safe nature area where walking is allowed. Don’t stand up, make loud noises, don’t try to get the animal to move,.

4. Movement, Facing and Space
Another lesson from human portraiture we can use in wildlife photography is the idea of composing based on facing and direction. In general photographs of moving animals are best composed giving more room in front of the animal’s movement than in back. Similarly, when an animal is looking to one side or another in a photograph, providing room in the direction the animal is looking usually results in a more effective image. If you can show what the animal is looking at (particularly if that too is interesting), that can be even more effective.

Yawn close up

Baby G Sept 2013 - Copy

So why not pack your camera and lenses and treat yourself to a weekend of photography at Royal Jozini Big 6, where you can capture the sun setting over Lake Jozini, the mountains, trees, aloes and wildlife? And have photographs of a little bit of paradise forever.

Tel: Lynda 0825504614, 0117042911

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Acknowledgements to Ken Jerrard Photography for his expert tips and hints