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