Photography is a way of expression. It is a medium for story telling and it is an extremely important part of our job out here at Londolozi. There is something special about taking photographs and sharing them with friends, family, and online. It allows us as individuals to relive the moment, remember the past and cherish the now. It also allows Guides to interact and reconnect with past guests and encourage future guests to come and share the magic. So bring your cameras and come explore your photographic dreams. Below, we have explained what the key to each season is photographically and how to best optimise your photographic experience no matter the time of year.
The weather is a variable which nobody can control, however the seasons do tend to follow a fairly reliable pattern. The first thing to remember is that regardless of the seasons, always be prepared for anything. One thing that is confirmed is that with each season comes something special to keep an eye out for.
Understand the seasons
March through May is temperate as the season changes from summer to the start of winter and the days are mild and warm with the nights becoming cooler. There is a slight drop in temperature and you are able to head out on game drive slightly earlier in the afternoons in order get more time out in the bush in the daylight. After the rains in summer the bush is still lovely and lush which makes for a wonderful canvas when photographing the cats.
June, July and August are mid-winter in South Africa and can be some of the best months for game viewing. During this time the days are warm and balmy, while the evenings and early mornings are cold. In these drier months the colours change to yellow and browns and the dust in the air creates incredible sunsets. It is also a great time to photograph the nights sky as the stars are at their clearest, just be sure to take out a jacket.
For the months September through November the weather is temperate and signals the change of season from autumn into summer. You will find a lot of the elephants making their way into the river in order to source water as the first rains have not yet come. As the first wet storm arrives we begin to see the migratory birds returning, the impala lambs popping up all over the place and the wild flowers start adding to the colours.
With the months December through March being the height of our summer these are, therefore, the hottest months. The landscapes are filled with hundreds of wildebeest and impala on the horizons as all of them have been dropped which creates wonderful landscape opportunities. The days can get to upwards of 35 degrees celsius and in the late afternoons, their is the chance of an impressive African thunderstorm owing to the build up of heat and precipitation which can make for a great shot. This is also a time to bring out your macro lens as the dung beetles are rolling their dung balls rapidly!
It is important to do some research prior to arrival. Have a look through some wildlife blogs, facebook pages and nature photographers work. Get an understanding visually of what can be achieved out here and set goals according to the season. Read a little on animal behaviour and learn from your guide and tracker to understand when to shoot and when to be patient. With a little knowledge, your photography will improve.
Important to consider
It is very important, that if you are here on a photographic mission that your guide is aware of it. Before your first drive, have a quick chat with him/her, explain your desires and your passion and let your guide know that you are here to get some good pictures. This way, your guide will be able to assist you if need be, in any area, whether it is knowledge on cameras, vehicle positioning, or something as simple as being patient in a sighting to get the perfect shot.
Once on the vehicle, make your your equipment is working properly, your batteries are charged, memory cards are free and present and settings are ready.
Come with an open mind but come with goals too. Set yourself some sort of photographic goals that you want to achieve, whether it is a photo of a Leopard in a tree or a Pied Kingfisher hovering over water. These things can not be guaranteed or promised, but at least there is a starting point and something to work toward. In order to not be disappointed it is important to understand the seasons and the opportunities each one comes with
Work with your guide. Most guides have photographic experience and understand angles for lighting as well as have foresight to get guests into the best possible position for a shot. However, it is important to speak openly on the vehicle about what you would like to photograph and by doing this, together with your guide and tracker, you can achieve many great things.
Understand that wildlife photography is a very difficult thing to achieve and beginner luck only holds true for a short while. So be patient and persistent, be passionate and be proud of your work!
Written by: Kate Neill