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Wildlife Camera » Safari camera know-how

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Farthest north »

Safari camera know-how

10 November 2008


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 waterbuck

Safari vehicles tend to be crowded. Eight people have 16 elbows, and every one of those elbows is going to get in the way when you are trying to photograph a Kenyan waterbuck in close-up.  So sensible equipment and a lot of practice are needed if you are going to grab the opportunity.
Another approach, of course, is to buy yourself more room and avoid all those intrusive elbows. De luxe safari Land Cruisers and LandRovers may carry only four passengers rather than eight, so you do stand a chance of getting a better shot.
The fewer the number of photographers, the easier the situation for the driver, who is constantly being urged to “Stop!” or “Go, go, go!” And there is less chance of someone lurching about just as you are getting the shot of a lifetime in sharp focus.
In Southern Africa, safari tour operators prefer roofless 4WD vehicles. In East Africa, they tend to be keener on a slide-open top so that snappers can stand up and rest their elbows on the hard roof while taking their pictures. Opinions vary as to which is best, although I have been in a Land Cruiser which found itself in the middle between two lions having a serious fight, bumping into the sides of the truck, and we were all grateful that we could pull our elbows inside and shut the windows!
When shooting from a truck, camera shake is always a problem, even with stabilised compacts, so be prepared to use a small gripper tripod or window mount of some kind. A bean bag is useful – and very light if you fill it with polystyrene beans.
On safari, remember to keep dust at bay by using zip-up camera bags (and keep in mind that many local people are keen collectors of camera equipment, so do not stray far from your gear and the bags.) The things you are most likely to run out of are battery power and  storage space on your cards. Take a charger which can run off a vehicle socket in emergencies, and pack extra memory cards. At less than £2 for a gigabyte of memory, they are a tiny part of the cost of a safari. (WN – text and pic copyright)


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