Kenyan safaris have become a pilgrim of sorts for many travellers. The need to bring back home documentary evidence of one’s treasured memories of such a safari experience is a matter no longer taken lightly.
Whether your photography is for leisure or professional reasons, you soon realise the need to make it as memorable as possible, is increasingly critical. But how do you learn to take mind blowing photos, even if not award-winning, in the shortest time possible to brag to family and friends?
In a land abundant with sunlight and unpredictable weather the opportunity is as exciting as it can be challenging.
This article will not give you the whole world of tropical photography but the idea is that it can offer you a basic starter kit to get you taking photos that will be the envy of your peers in no time. All efforts have been made to avoid technical photography terms.
1. Use Long Lenses
For wildlife, a long lens is the standard piece of equipment to have. You will need a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera with a provision for taking exchangeable lenses and at least a 300 MM lens.
In most cases, you will be able to get excellent images of the majority of the wildlife if you travel with one or 2 of the wide-range zoom lenses available. If you can get one, make sure it can give you a zoom that will get you up to 400 MM with auto-focus capability. This will allow you to take advantage of virtually every photo opportunity from your vehicle.
If you can get a longer lens than this, the better. If you are planning to do shots of birds, then a 600 MM f/4 lens will be fabulous – but so will the price tag! But if you consider that you may be in a vehicle with others in areas where you cannot get out of the vehicle to set up a tripod, the cost will not seem all that high!
2. Avoid Flashes
As much as possible, avoid using your flash in the wild when taking photos, especially at a place where animals congregate, such as a waterhole, at night or on a game drive. There are some nice techniques that you can use to take photographs at night, such as using your guides spotlight to paint a wildlife scene in a long exposure.
3. Put Safety First
You may want to take a nice digital point and shoot for going into crowded areas such as towns where the risk of drawing attention to yourself with a telephoto lens, which just announces how deep your pockets are, is higher.
4. Try as much as Possible to use a Tripod
If you really want to take clear photos with no camera shake, then you should invest in a good tripod. Tripods allow you to take good steady shots. Most DSLR cameras in the market have an in-built steady-shot feature that is supposed to compensate for any shaking but nothing beats a good old tripod, anywhere, anytime.
It, of course, means extra baggage for you but at the end of the day, it will be worth the hassle – especially if your safari package gives you ample time to experience a place adequately whenever a photo opportunity presents itself. You can also consider a window mount if you are on a self-drive or if you will be doing a private tour with a guide in a closed vehicle.
5. Respect Local Cultures and Beliefs
Photography in Kenya is now heavily commercialised and even the locals are now aware of the quick money to be made from tourists clicking away to capture a glimpse of their cultures and lifestyles but it is not everyone who wants a quick buck for having their photo taken.
There are still communities that are deeply religious about being photographed. So find out from your tour guide about what the right approach to local photography is and respect this.
All said and done, never miss to pack a camera when you are travelling this side of the world. You will only be disappointed at how much you experience and never have the evidence to prove it – and please remember to share some of those photos you take with us.