Although I run the photographic studio here at Londolozi, the rangers are the ones who you are out with in the bush when you are capturing your wildlife images. I was curious to know what they thought was most important when it comes to taking a wildlife photograph, so I asked them individually:

James Tyrrell:

Zoom out more often so that you get more of the scene in your shot. It is not just about the animal but also about its surroundings. The photo needs to tell a story.

The photographs below were of the same sighting. The first picture is simply of the Anderson male in a tree. There’s not much to it.

In the second shot, we have far more information; the two hyenas (one is only just visible further back and to the left) tell us that the leopard almost certainly had a kill in the tree, which is probably also why he is grooming himself. The rivalry between the two predators is highlighted by the fact that one is on the ground and the other is safely up in the branches. There’s a lot more going on and the viewer gets far more drawn in to the scene.”

1/800 sec, f2.8, ISO 1000

1/400 sec, f4, ISO 1000

Nick Kleer:

Anticipating the animal’s movements and understanding its behaviour are key to consistently getting a good shot. Having a good idea of what they’ll do next will allow you to anticipate or pre-visualize a photo so you can get into the right position for the shot.”

In Nick’s photograph of the Nkoveni female below, he demonstrates how important it is to get into the right position. Nick parked himself further down the road so that he could get a front on-shot as she walked towards the vehicle.

1/400 sec, f7.1, ISO 400

6
Nkoveni 2:2 Female
2012 - present

A young female that lives to the east and south of camp. Easily recognised by her 2:2 spot pattern she is often to be found in Marula trees.

U
Spotted this leopard?
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32 sightings by Members
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Nkoveni 2:2 Female

Lineage
Sunsetbend
Identification
markings
Timeline
55 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
2 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist

Don Heyneke:

“Make sure you have a high enough shutter speed for the amount of light that you have available to you. If your shutter is too slow you get a blurry image. Freeze time. Often people are afraid to get a grainy image, but it’s better to have the higher ISO and capture the moment than have a blurry image.”

Don needed to have a really fast shutter speed in order to freeze the movement in this shot of two hippos fighting. Thankfully in this particular instance his ISO did not need to be high because he had a lot of light available to him.

1/3200 sec, f/5.6, ISO 800.

Alex Jordan:

Knowing your equipment is key so that you can adjust your settings fast. Things can change quickly in the bush; animals can go from active to inactive, light can go from bright to dark in the matter of a second. Being able to adjust your setting immediately can mean the difference between the good photos and the terrible.” 

In this shot of the Ingrid Dam female, Alex had to increase his ISO so that he would get a faster enough shutter speed to freeze the motion of descent. He needed a wide aperture and low F-stop number to allow a lot of light onto the sensor. He also over-exposed for this shot so that the leopard would not be too dark against the very bright sky.

“The leopard had been lying snoozing in the Marula tree”, said Alex, “and we did not think she was going to move for awhile. Suddenly she spotted a duiker in the distance and within 3 seconds had got to her feet and scuttled down the trunk. As she was approaching the fork in the tree I snapped the shot, having quickly adjusted my settings to make sure my exposure would be correct.”

1/1600 sec, f5.6, ISO 1000, +1.3 EV

10

She is occasionally seen around the far north west corner of Londolozi, and is generally quite relaxed around vehicles.

U
Spotted this leopard?
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4 sightings by Members
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Ingrid Dam 4:4 Female

Lineage
Unknown
Identification
markings
Timeline
9 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
0 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist

Rob Crankshaw:

Composition is crucial. There is no set rule here as a photo is the photographer’s interpretation of the scene. However, being conscious of how your subject fits into the frame and considering the story, makes for a more powerful image.”

In his photograph of a jumping spider, Rob demonstrates the composition rule of thirds extremely well. As these tiny arachnids are cunning hunters and always on the move, Rob needed to leave some space around the spider for it to look into, giving the impression that the spider was analyzing its next move, and potentially about to jump into the open space.

1/200 sec, f25, ISO 2500

Fin Lawlor:

Patience! A lot of people come on Safari with high expectations thinking they can just capture what they have seen in high profile photographers’ portfolios, but I can guarantee those photographers had to sit and wait patiently for hours to capture the shot.”

“The Nkoveni female had a kill hoisted in a marula tree, but when we arrived she was sleeping in some long grass.  Impatience would have caused us to move on before too long, but knowing she would eventually have to go up the tree to feed, we stuck around, and two hours later had our reward as she leapt up the trunk just as the light was getting good”

 

1/400 sec, f/8.0, ISO 640.

The guiding team at Londolozi have a wealth of knowledge at their disposal, both on photography and animal behaviour. By combining the two you will hopefully be able to end your stay having captured some of the fantastic wildlife shots you imagined for yourself.

These are just some of the top tips recommended by our rangers but there are plenty more good points out there. What did we leave out that you would include as your Top Tip?

Filed under Photography Wildlife

Involved Leopards

Nkoveni 2:2 Female

Nkoveni 2:2 Female

Spotted this leopard?
You've seen this leopard
Ingrid Dam 4:4 Female

Ingrid Dam 4:4 Female

Spotted this leopard?
You've seen this leopard

About the Author

Kylie Jones

Photography Manager

Being someone who loves the bush, people and photography Kylie has found her way to her dream job in the Londolozi Studio. Despite completing her Humanities Degree, she felt unsatisfied and found herself drawn to doing a wildlife photography course. Being both creative ...

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22 Comments

on 6 Top Tips on Photography From the Londolozi Guides

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Lisa Hilger

Thanks for the blogs on photography! When we made the decision to come to Africa about a year ago, I bought my first DSLR. I have taken a class, and watch every photographer’s youtube education vid I can find but these blogs have been invaluable – especially the ones on Lightroom! See you all soon!

Kylie Jones

It is a pleasure Lisa. Which DSLR do you shoot with? Look forward to seeing you when you are at Londolozi.

Lisa Hilger

I have a Canon 7D Mark II with the kit lens; but have been spending most of my time with the 100-400mm L II lens. I’m still under water but getting better…slowly!

Dina Petridis

serendipity is also helpful for a good picture ,
while searching for something completely different !

Kylie Jones

Dina you are 100% correct on that, the bush is very unpredictable but is amazing when you stumble upon something you have never seen before.

Betty-Lou Luijken

My tip would be: Don’t let your guard down. You might be thinking that you’re in a place where nothing is happening and you’ll have to move to another spot, but then suddenly something does happen. Nature is unpredictable. One moment everything is silent, the next moment everybody is on his or her toes.
Also: Have eyes for the smaller things. If you look around you just might come across something that you could easily overlook.

Kylie Jones

Thanks for the tips Betty-Lou. You and Fin have a lot in common with your first point. Appreciating the small things is definately key to enjoying all that the bush has to offer.

Jeff Rodgers

Great idea for a blog and great suggestions from one and all.

Kylie Jones

Thanks Jeff, look forward to meeting you whilst on your stay at Londolozi soon.

Marinda Drake

Love this blog Kylie. I have learned so much from the rangers over the years. Although my photos are taken more for memories, it is getting better every time I am out in the bush and practicing what I have learned.

Kylie Jones

Thanks Marinda, Photographs are a great way to capture special moments that will be remembered for life.

Malavika Gupta

Thanks for compiling tips for us. Key is to keep these in mind when out in the bush!

Al Kaiser

Thanks Kylie. Very enjoyable post. Could have done without the spider though!

Kylie Jones

Haha, pleasure Al. Hope you are well!

Amanda Ritchie

I won’t tell Rob that you said that, Al! 😉

Guy Lacy Chapman

I loved reading this!

Kylie Jones

Thanks very much Guy.

Rich Laburn

Great post Kylie, thanks for sharing. My top tip would be to always make sure you focus on the eye of the animal and try to capture it looking straight into the lens.

Kylie Jones

Thanks for the great tip Rich, I will be sure to keep this in mind when out in the field.

Callum Evans

All absolutely crucial for photography in any environment!!

Laura Evans

These are all excellent tips. Mine would be along the same lines as zoom out. I always think action shots are better than portraits. There are thousands of amazing portraits, but the photos which tell a story or capture a moment are always memorable

Michael & Terri Klauber

Kylie, Thanks for getting those amazing ranger/photographers to share some of their secrets! Patience is the hardest one to master for sure!

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