Before I advise you on what to do to prepare for your photographic safari – which we’d be happy to help you with, if you’d like to Contact Us – let me offer some advice for your game guide. He or she (female guides are quite common these days, and they are generally very good), as a qualified professional, is obliged to make your drive as interesting as possible. This includes taking into account the photographers on the vehicle. So make it a point to let them know who the photographers are in your group.
In most cases, they will correctly position the vehicle for you to ensure the sun is behind you and the subject is well positioned. Most important, they will turn the engine off to minimise vibration and allow you the best chance to get the great image you are after.
By the same token, if there are non-photographers on the vehicle, be aware that they do not want to wait all day for you to set up your shot, so please be considerate and remember that photography can be a selfish pastime.
It is also a common courtesy for everyone on the vehicle to be quiet at a sighting to prevent the animals from panicking and to have them behave naturally for the benefit of all. Talk and laugh as much as you like between sightings, but you will be assured a far more enjoyable experience if everyone keeps quiet and still when in the company of animals you wish to spend some time with.
For your part, prepare your equipment before you leave on the drive, by ensuring that:
• Your batteries are fully charged and that you have spares (do not forget spare flash batteries!).
• Your camera bodies have the appropriate lenses attached for the type of shooting you are planning to do.
• You have your camera equipment directly at hand to enable you to respond immediately to any opportunity that may present itself. In the bush, things happen really fast, so stay calm and try not to panic. EVER. Get the shot!*
• Your memory cards have been formatted, or that you have enough space available on them to capture all the images you may wish to take.
• You have accessories like speedlights, tripods, etc., freely available.
*When you’re composed, you set yourself up for sensational images like the one above of a charging African elephant, which I shot from our roofrack in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. My wife, on the other hand, got such a fright that she dropped the video camera into her lap! Perhaps you can understand why from the rest of the hair-raising sequence:
Before your imagination runs wild, not to worry. Our friend in the Prado got away without a scratch, despite the seriously close call!
Next up in this series of posts sharing wildlife photography tips, is advice on what I call the FIVE KINGS of your camera setup, so stay tuned for that . . .