As someone who really enjoys wildlife photography I really do count myself incredibly privileged to be able to go out on a game drive twice a day in a place that is so beautiful in search of a whole variety of different things to photograph. Every drive I will take out my camera and telephoto lens from its protective case and place it next to me so that it’s at the ready should I need it at a moment’s notice. As we explore the reserve I pick it up every now and then and take pictures of different things that catch my eye. Sometimes it’s the silhouette of a giraffe on a ridge crest or a herd of elephants drinking at a waterhole. Other times I try to catch the reflection in a leopard’s eye and I zoom right in to the face cursing myself for not having a bigger lens.

I shoot with a Canon 7D and most of the time I use a 100-400mm lens, which is more than adequate for what we need out here to get great pictures. I find the nature of photography is such that you do always end up lusting after bigger, better and newer equipment and that’s always natural especially when you want to try different things or get more technical with your photography. With all of this in mind I decided that for one week I would try something completely different though and tentatively put aside my bulky camera body and lens and resorted to my beloved pocket sized GoPro action camera for a different perspective.


The GoPro Hero 3+ action camera. This is the same model that I used to capture all of the photo’s in this blog.

GoPro is one of the more recognized brands of action camera and became popular especially in the world of extreme sports where adrenalin junkies were always in pursuit of different and unique camera angles. What makes it stand out from your typical “point and shoot” camera is the type of picture that it takes and this is where we bring it in to the world of wildlife photography and look to see whether or not there is a place for it.

One of the most attractive things about this camera is its size. It can literally fit in your pocket and that’s a huge plus when it comes to traveling. However, it shouldn’t be regarded as a substitute for your bigger camera and lens you were thinking about taking on safari with you because of it’s super wide angle. The GoPro was designed to give you a first person perspective on whatever you are filming or taking pictures of and it’s brilliant for capturing landscapes. In other words, you cannot zoom in to a subject with a GoPro because it’s designed to have a very wide field of view. The below series of pictures illustrates this point.


This picture was taken with my 100-400mm lens at 400mm. The Mashaba female leopard came down to drink at Taylor’s Dam and I used the zoom to take a picture with her as the main subject.


Immediately after the above picture was taken I took one with my GoPro to show the difference between the type of picture the GoPro takes compared to a more traditional camera. Both images portray different feelings. Personally, I love how the the wide angle of the GoPro captures the beauty of the sky as well as Tracker Rich Mthibane looking on.

Mashaba 3:3 Female
2008 - present

The Mashaba female is currently Londolozi’s best known leopard. Her relaxed nature means she is comfortable around the camps and vehicles.

Mashaba 3:3 Female

22 stories
2 known
3 known

One of the Majingilane Male lions rests in the Sand River. Again, using my bigger telephoto lens I was able to focus solely on the lion choosing to capture his sleepy state without too much of the surrounding landscape.


Same as before I brought out the GoPro immediately after and took a picture from the same place. I love this picture because by looking at Rich’s face you can tell what mood we were in after finally getting to see these lions. For me personally, the picture reminds me of how we felt in that sighting and what a great afternoon we had. It captures a whole different perspective of the scene.

Those that have been on holiday with me will tell you how much I love this little camera and how it never leaves my side. Thats absolutely true. In the past though I have mainly used the video element of the camera to capture my holiday. I video everything and at the end I take great pleasure in sifting through all the hours of footage, adding some good music and editing a movie of the holiday. It was for this reason that it felt a bit strange at first using the camera for still pictures because after being so used to taking pictures by looking through the viewfinder of my normal camera it took some some trial and error to get the results that I was hoping for but I was pleasantly surprised.


As you can see Rich features a lot in these pictures and I enjoy having him in there because it gives the scene context and gives it a sense of just how close we were to this huge herd of buffalo drinking and wallowing at a waterhole.


A lone elephant bull strides purposefully across a clearing in search of more trees to feed on.


Ranger Dave Strachan proudly shows off the “Pink Pouch” after it was awarded to him for getting his Land Rover stuck.


The last photo of the series, “Rich and the Big 5.” Two Rhinos amble away from a waterhole as the last rays of afternoon sunshine filter through.


It doesn’t always have to be about the wildlife. A little bit of bubbly on the Tree Camp Deck to welcome everyone back from a successful morning.


The skull of an old bull hippo that was killed by another hippo during a territorial dispute.


The small GoPro was able to fit right inside at the back of the skull to give a unique perspective of us examining it.


The benefit of not having a door! I was able to hold the camera low and snap this picture of one of the Majingilane males as he woke up and walked past our vehicle. Again, by having the side of the car in the picture it really puts into perspective how close we were.


The same Majingilane male made his way to join the rest of the Mhangeni Pride just as the sun was setting.


Early morning sunrises and dead trees make for brilliant photographic subjects whether with a GoPro or a normal camera.


The breakfast spread awaiting the Tree Camp guests after game drive.

After spending the last week experimenting with my GoPro out in the bush I can definitely see myself taking it out more often. In fact, I may even clear a little spot in my camera case so that it can ride along on every game drive, being the perfect compliment to a traditional zoom camera. When it comes to wildlife photography you don’t need to have the latest and greatest equipment to take memorable pictures, sometimes even your smartphone is good enough. Just remember to take pictures that tell stories and are memorable to you and whether it’s with a phone, ‘point and shoot’ camera, GoPro or telephoto lens if you play around and get creative you will be pleasantly surprised with what you can come up with.

Filed under Photography Wildlife

Involved Leopards

About the Author

James Souchon

Field Guide

James started his guiding career at the world-renowned Phinda Game Reserve, spending four years learning about and showing guests the wonder of the incredibly rich biodiversity that the Mapuataland area of South Africa has to offer. Having always wanted to guide in the ...

More stories by James


on Game Drive Through a Different Lens
    Dina,Guido says:

    Hi James,
    see that you got again fantastic sightings , I love the picture in the skull! In Tree lodge the food seems to be even more abundant than in our camp!

    James Souchon says:

    Hi Guido and Dina, Glad you enjoyed it and it was awesome having you here. Hopefully see you again next year!

    Gerald wilson says:

    Photographs as that of the human eye, wow!

    James Souchon says:

    Hi Gerald, it certainly does provide a unique perspective!

    odie says:

    Hi Londolonzi! how often you see the Majingilane coalition at your property? thanks

    James Souchon says:

    Hi Odie, they cross over from the west of us every so often but spend the majority of their time to the west of our boundary. We do have a traversing agreement with our neighbours though so we do get to view them fairly regularly.

    Wendy Hawkins says:

    Thank you James! I like the GoPro pictures as it shows the “whole” which gives us an idea of just how dry & barren the surroundings are at Londi! Beautiful one & all πŸ™‚ Please let us all pray for rain?

    James Souchon says:

    Thanks Wendy! Yes please keep praying for rain

    Jeff Rodgers says:

    This is now one of my favorite Blogs.

    James Souchon says:

    Thanks Jeff!

    Kt says:

    Which coalition of males are with the mhangeni pride? Majingilane or matimbas

    James Souchon says:

    Hi Kt, the Majingilane coalition has been with Mhangeni pride

    Francis Daisy janssen says:

    Thank you once again. They are beautiful photo,s

    James Souchon says:

    Thanks Francis, glad you enjoyed it

    Robert Beckman says:

    Had a fantastic four days with Alistair and Mike, we came home with hundreds of photos and incredible memories of Londolozi

    James Souchon says:

    Hi Robert, Great to hear you had a good time!

    odie says:

    thanks James! btw nice pics

    Jill Larone says:

    Great pictures James! I loved those Tree Camp breakfasts…and lunches…and dinners while I was there!

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