Africa Photo Safari Tips – live from the Bronx Zoo

Photograph © Jeff Muschar

Today, while I giving a private workshop at the Bronx Zoo, the student (now my friend), Jeff Muschar, took the opening shot for this blog post. Great job Jeff.

Jeff took the workshop as a prelude to his Botswana safari, which he is doing with his son in a few weeks. I know they will have a great father/son time – and come back with great images.

Jeff asked me to jot down some photo and safari tips. I said sure!

For those of you who may venture off on a safari, I thought I'd share the tips with you, too. Here goes.

Safari Tips:

• Be prepared to get up early and come back to camp early. Most of the action happens early in the day - and late in the day (and at night).

• Be prepared for lots of downtime (downloading time), because you probably will not go on a game drive until late in the afternoon.

• Definitely do the night game drives. Pack your flashlights.

• Ask at the camp when they switch power generators. A power surge can zap your charger.

• Talk to your doc about antibiotics. I travel with Cipro. Always.

• Talk to your doc about other travel issues, such as malaria.

• Pack light. Go to to learn how to pack . . . in one bag :-)

• Do a web search on the camps. Some let your dive off road, others do not. You often get closer to animals when you can drive off the road.

Photo Tips:

Photographs © Rick Sammon

• Try to get a photo of the animal looking up or toward the sun. If you do, you'll get better light on the animal's face – and catch light in the eyes (as illustrated above).

• Keep your camera clean and change lenses only when absolutely necessary. It's very, very dusty in Africa. Don't use liquid cleaners on your sensor. You can make matters worse.

• If possible, take two camera bodies: one with a tele zoom, one with a wide-angle zoom.

• Take close-up shots and environmental portraits.

• Pack a power strip (or two) so you can charge more devices.
Of course, also pack the correct power adapter (take two).

• Remove all filters when shooting into the sun.

• Bring back everything.

• Carry one of your hard drives with you all the time. You don't want your pictures to "walk off."

• Use your photo vest a third carry on.

• Keep your flash very handy. You will need it more than you think – even on sunny days. Master daylight fill-in flash photography.

Photograph © Rick Sammon

Well Jeff, have a great time with your son. Here's a shot I took while on my previous trip to Botswana – with the same tele zoom you are taking, Canon 100-400mm IS.

To get a shot like this, you need more more thing: LUCK!

Let me know here (via a comment) if you are interested in a photo walk at the zoo on September 7th – the day before my Hudson River Photo Workshop.

Explore the light,

P.S. If you have a photo or travel tip for Jeff (and others) please share it here via a comment.