Guests often ask about the best equipment to bring along when planning a general Photographic Safari. I love photography and would like to share these tips with you!
RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT: THE CAMERA BODY
The camera you bring along is most important as shooting wildlife can be challenging at times; the animals may be on a hunt, or drinking from a watering hole; so a good SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera body is best advised.
When looking for the right camera to buy, always remember that you need something that is comfortable for you; keeping in mind the weight, size and function of the camera. There are many makes and models to choose from out there, but it’s very important that the camera shoots at least five frames per second for those tricky action shots.
SELECTING A LENS FOR THE CAMERA
In the interest of conservation, no off-road driving is allowed in Welgevonden Game Reserve – this protects the vegetation in order to remain of the highest quality. You will therefore need a good zoom lens, but do keep in mind that animals do come very close to the road at times. You will therefore not always need the zoom, but having ‘room for zoom’ is a big positive in order to get that perfect shot.
Fast lenses with an F stop of 4.5 through to 2.8 are really the best as they allow in a lot of light, which makes for better shots. The best all-purpose lens to have out here would be the 70-200mm F2.8 or 200-400mm F4 lenses. If your main focus is Birding photography, then it would be advisable to get yourself a 1.4 or a 2x converter. This will help you to get that little bit more when capturing birds in flight or perched on a tree far away.
GENERAL ACCESSORIES PROVIDED AT MHONDORO FOR PHOTOGRAHIC SAFARIS
Here at Mhondoro we provide photography ‘bean bags’ which work really well as they offer stability and support for your camera and lens. Bean bags are kept in our game viewers, and are always available for your use. We also have clamps on the vehicle with a soft cushion for the camera to lean on when vibration makes it tricky to take pictures while moving.
ACCESSORIES TO BRING ALONG
Memory cards are very important and ‘lots of memory’ is key when going on safari because the more memory and space you have, the more shots you can take to achieve the perfect photograph. Always have a carry bag for your camera as being in the bush means lots of dust – it’s important that your camera stays protected in the bag when not in use. Your bag should also have the following:
- Lens covers
- Lens wiping cloth
- Camera charger (with spare charged battery)
- Spare memory card (with lots of space, preferably 8gig minimum)
PHOTOGRAPHIC TIPS: NATURE’S FRAMES
When going on safari or waiting in the Mhondoro Hide for a photo opportunity, always look out for a ‘natural frame’. This could be a tree branch with the right shape or even a patch of grass which stands vertically allowing the animal in the shot to have a natural frame around it. A simple, but powerful technique to use with the right shot.
PHOTOGRAPHIC SAFARI: GETTING LOW
The best way to get the perfect shot is by getting low, or aiming for eye level with the object. Mhondoro Hide provides perfect opportunities like this because when you are sitting inside the hide taking photos, you will be at ground level with animals around the drinking hole. On safari always try sitting as close to the front as possible to allow for ‘eye level’ with the object. Front seats on the game viewer vehicle are closer to the ground and ideally your shot should look like it was taken from a standing position. Those are the basic tips – I trust that you have been inspired to get ready for your next photographic safari and we look forward to welcoming you to Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa!
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Written by Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa Ranger: Marcus Hack