#4 of the Judging a Photograph Series
I read some so-called advice this week about the best photography equipment to buy for a safari holiday. I strongly disagreed with it. The “advice” said to take two telephoto lenses and to buy the longest zoom that you can afford, preferably up to 600mm.
This is stuff and nonsense. Unless you’re planning on ignoring the lumping great elephant at the waterhole immediately in front of you, and perhaps you want to shoot birds instead, then you don’t need to remortgage your house and build your biceps to carry a massive telephoto. All you will end up doing is shooting the kind of extreme close-ups that you can get in a zoo. It will not be special. Don’t crop out the environment; instead make the most of the landscape. Tell the story.
You WILL get close to the animals (in some cases, frighteningly close). If you don’t, the rangers aren’t doing their job properly. Either that or you’ve picked a season where everything has migrated the heck out of the park.
Lenses and Cameras for a Safari – Tips
Much more important equipment for safari is a second camera body. Pick two very different lenses and attach them to your DSLR before you leave the lodge in the morning. Do not remove lenses from camera bodies once out on the road as the dust is evil and will get everywhere. You risk more from dust than from the lions! Keep it sealed shut.
You won’t have time or space in the safari vehicle to prat about with a tripod. You will need to shoot hand-held a lot, so I recommend image stabilising lenses. You might get some use out of a monopod and save a couple of f-stops that way.
How We Took Photos on Safari
When we went on safari (pre-kids!) my husband and I took identical camera bodies and swapped and took turns with them. Our two main lenses were image stabilising. One was 28-105mm and the other was 75-300mm (both on full-frame SLRs). These turned out to be perfect choices and nothing was too close or too far away. We never had any need to argue over who had which camera and lens, because there was always a great shot to be had at different focal lengths.
Next week I’ll show you how one of these photos was judged in a contest, and how easy it is for photo competition judges to fall into one simple trap!
Read about the camera we used on our safari trip here