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