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Travel Guide > Africa > South Africa > Kruger National Park > Sights & Attractions

Photographing Wildlife

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Top 10 Kruger Photography Tips

  1. For pin-sharp wildlife pictures from your Kruger trip make sure you support longer lenses well when photographing from a vehicle or hide.  You can buy special window mounts for the job, but a rice-filled bag works extremely well. Make your own by cutting up the thigh sections of old trousers. Sew up one of the open sides before you travel, fill loosely with rice on arrival (about 1.5 to 2kg per bag should do it), sew up the second side and you’re ready to go.
  2. Keep lenses and photo equipment loosely covered, but readily accessible, on game drives as dust can be a problem when it’s dry.  A sarong or towel thrown over an open camera backpack works well.
  3. The best light for photography is at dawn and dusk. If you’re serious about getting good shots of your trip to the park then skip breakfast and sundowners to take advantage of these conditions. This is the time the wildlife is at its most active and interesting too.  Rest up at camp in the middle of the day when the light is harsh and the animals are lazing in the shade.
  4. Prolong your game drives on bright overcast and cooler days as these lighting conditions are perfect for animal portraits. The flat, shadowless lighting renders fur and feather detail perfectly.  Avoid getting the sky in your pictures when photographing in these conditions as this can make it difficult to get good exposures and may leave you with ugly highlights in your end results.
  5. It’s tempting if you’re lucky enough to be using telephoto lenses to fill the frame with your subjects.  Take some tight close-ups by all means but make sure you also show the animals in their Kruger habitat too. The park has some fantastic scenery and wildlife always looks better shown in the context of its natural surroundings.
  6. For the best results photograph the reserve’s wildlife with the light behind your shoulder.
  7. Drive slowly in the park and work a fairly small area. Not only does this help you spot more game but it makes it easier to approach photographic subjects quietly without making them spook. If you do sail past something you want to photograph don’t reverse – it’s just too noisy. Instead drive on, turn round, go well past and come in again quietly.
  8. Spend plenty of time with a promising subject. It’s always tempting in a game park as vast as Kruger to dash about thinking there’s more exciting stuff round the next corner, but the most rewarding photographs come from taking time over your animal encounters, patiently waiting to see what might happen next.
  9. Set your camera’s ISO to around 400 as a default on game drives so if you need to photograph a moving animal quickly you should have the necessary speed in most conditions at your fingertips.  It’s simple enough then to lower your ISO and make any other refinements you need for a further image, safe in the knowledge that at least you’ve got something on record from the encounter to show folks back home.
  10. Try to get into the habit of routinely checking round the viewfinder before you press the shutter release for unwanted background clutter or stuff that might spoil your picture, like a tree appearing to grow out of the top of an animal’s head. It’s very easy to overlook these things in the excitement of being on safari.
Type: Tip
Location: Kruger National Park, South Africa

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