Most photographers, whether they’re focused on wildlife photography or not, would jump at the chance to go to Africa on a wildlife photography trip. However, safari photography holds its own unique challenges, with far-off subjects and moving action. You can make the best of a once-in-a-lifetime safari trip by packing the right equipment, and of course taking a sense of adventure with you too!
It goes without saying that you’re going to need at least one good-quality zoom lens on any safari trip, but if you have a spare, your life will be a little bit easier. Most of the action that you’ll be shooting will be at a distance, so you’ll need a zoom lens to ensure that those gamboling lion cubs aren’t just two specks in the distance surrounded by a lot of beige.
Anything upwards of 300mm should be fine for most photographers’ purposes, although a 100-400mm lens would give a greater range and ensure that you’ll come back with some spectacular wildlife images. Avoid the temptation to go much larger than 400mm; anything bigger can be incredibly cumbersome to drag around, and you’ll just end up leaving it in your hotel room or cursing the day that you bought it. Unless you’re shooting for National Geographic, you probably don’t need the biggest lens you can find!
Don’t forget to also take a tripod, for those low-light shots that you just can’t miss.
Majestic animals don’t tend to congregate in well-paved areas, so you’ll be spending a lot of your safari photography trip in dusty, sandy areas with a lot of wind. This can cause havoc for your equipment, especially when you’re shooting in these conditions for several hours each day, so putting filters on your lenses will help to preserve the clean glass and save you from having to clean them every morning.
As long as you’re going to be taking filters with you, you might as well choose one or two that can help you bring some diversity to your nature photography. If you only take one filter, it should be a polarizer. This type of filter will help to saturate the already vibrant and gorgeous colors of an Africa landscape, and will lend a professional look to your images before you even get into post-production. A simple blue or red filter will also help you to catch some gorgeous colors in the savannah skies, whether it’s sunset, sunrise, or the middle of the afternoon.
The additional little things
It’s easy to forget the little things when you’re concentrating on taking the right lenses and whatnot, but on a trip like this you don’t want to leave all your memory cards at home and find that you’re stuck with one compact flash that’s full after the first day. Take all your formatted memory cards, all your batteries, fully charged, as well as your charger and any filters you might need.
The other stuff might sound simple, but it’s easy to forget: Binoculars, a hat with a peak, sunglasses, sunscreen, any medications you might need, a copy of your itinerary and a little paper pad to make notes on your photographic journey. A head lamp will also help you on those early mornings when you get up before the sun. Most important of all though, of course, is a keen sense of adventure!
What was your essential equipment for your safari photography? Share your photos with the PicsArt gallery and don’t forget to tag them with #Safari!