Monday, January 1, 2007

African Photography Tips

As with all photography, light is the most important factor
when taking a picture. In Africa, we have a lot of light, actually, too much at times.
The African Sun is very harsh and photography anytime between the hours of early morning and late evening can yield images with ugly shadows and high contrast.
Having photographed in Africa for many years, we know how light affects your images and how to use the light to your advantage. So here are a few tips.

Summer months have shorter intervals for productive photography, but due to regular rainfall that clears the air of dust, the light is generally clearer and crisper. Flora is also in full bloom during this time and the rich greens give beautiful settings to serene scenes. All the migrant birds are here- and the colourful birds really do look beautiful against the green colours. The main problem with summer is how fast the light gets harsh. You can only get one hour in the morning and evening of golden light, and even then it is quite hot- so animals don't move about as much.

In the winter months, the sun rises and sets at more of an angle, allowing longer shooting times during the productive hours of the day. Greenery dies away and the Bushveld turns a golden-brown colour: excellent for spotting game and those elusive tawny coloured Felines. this is prime time for wilfdlife photography. The cool days and good light angle makes for nice, long hours of photography in pleasant conditions. dust can be a major factor though- see below for more on that.
The conditions may be dry and dusty, but this means that animals need to congregate at water holes and this in turn, means action. Stakeouts at water holes in winter are nearly always productive. It’s just a matter of patience.


Most photography in Nature reserves in Southern Africa is confined to vehicles. This may seem like a disadvantage, but in fact it can be made into your advantage.
Animals and birds in Reserves are accustomed to vehicles and allow them closer than if you were on foot.
With photography guides driving open game vehicles, you can get into favourable shooting positions to get your images.


In the winter months in particular, dust can be a major hassle. And with digital sensors in DSLR’s, this problem is even worse. Blower brushes (The large kind) are of a constant necessity, as are sensor swabs. Care needs to be taken when changing lenses, especially when out in the open. A daily dust off and wipe down is highly recommended to keep the dust at bay.

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