African Photo Safari

Virtual Photo Safari Part III: Be Aware of the Background

Each day this week I will take you on a daily virtual photo safari to Kenya's Masai Mara. Each post will feature a safari tip and a photo tip - or two. 

I took the images for the posts on a recent trek to the Masia Mara organized by &Beyond, a leader in African travel tours. Bateleur was our base camp for the eight-day photo safari. 

Scroll down to read previous posts.

Safari Tip: Meet with your guide in advance and plan your entire safari and daily trips. Tell him or her your goals. My goal was to get two good photographs per day, which I felt was a realistic goal.

Photo Tip: Know that in most cases, you will be shooting from a vehicle, which may jiggle when others in the vehicle may giggle. Be prepared to steady your camera with a bean bag or camera support - or hold your camera very steady. And because you and the animals will be moving, I think you'll get your best composition with a zoom lens.

The background can make or break a photograph. Above: the background, and framing the subject against the interesting background, makes the shot. And get this: I took these shots during an intense downpour. And I mean intense! Both the giraffes and our open-sided Land Rover were getting soaked!

Another photo tip: don't shy away from the rainy season. You might get dramatic sky backgrounds.

Both shots were taken with my Canon 7D and 100-400mm IS lens.

If you'd like to join one of my travel tours/workshops, see the Workshops page of my site. Shoot me an email if you are interested in a 4-person workshop to Tanzania in 2012.

To see more of my travel pictures, check out my Travel and Nature Photography ebook.

If I were still into doing traditional books, I'd do a book on the wildlife in the Mara. Once I settle down from the trip, I'll add these pictures to my apps. Or, I might do an app: 24/7 Photo Safari. If you are interested in a safari-type app, shoot me an email.

If you are going on safari, or want to look as though you are going on safari (ha ha), check out the clothes offered by ExOfficio. Here is my favorite shirt.

Explore the light,

P.S. A great read about Kenya: West with The Night.

In and Out of Africa

I took the picture on the left at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas - out of Africa.

I took the picture on the right in Botswana - in Africa.

Both photographs have several things in common:
- Light in the eyes. Important in wildlife pictures.
- I focused on the eyes. Important in wildlife photography.
- Tight cropping, which draws attention to the subject.
- I shot as close as possible to eye-level, so the viewer feels like he/she is on the same level as the animal.
- I selected a relatively wide aperture to blur the background.
- I selectively sharpened the image in Photoshop, only sharpening the animals.
- I used my 100-400mm Image Stabilization lens - my favorite lens for wildlife photography.
- I had a good guide who helped me get into the best possible positions for the shots. A good guide is very, very important!

Like to photograph big cats and other big animals? I have opening on the following workshops: December 2009 Fossil Rim. Check out Fossil Rim and shoot me an email about the trip:
September 2010 Kenya.

Here's a peek at Fossil Rim.

Explore the Light,

P.S. Speaking of guides, here's a tip from one of my safari guides: When looking for animals, look from right to left, as opposed from left to right... the direction in which we read. Looking from right to left slows you down... and gives you a better chance to spot animals.