"An Adventure in South Africa"
Photographs by Richard Lane
"Article first featured in Olympus User Magazine"
SAFARI IS A WORD many associate with South Africa: jumping in the back of a
dusty 4x4; sneaking past lions;
seeing the silhouette of an elephant
against a picturesque sunset; watching
cheetahs make the dash for their next
meal… all of which makes for a stunning
collection of magical photographs.
But with animal population numbers
dwindling, there has been a surge in african
safari tourism – and everyone wants
to record their experience, hence an
increasing interest in wildlife
There can often be a number of
restrictions when it comes to taking
photographs while on african safari – time,
weather, equipment, access and,
sometimes, the animals may just be
hiding. But when the animals do come
out to play, there are a few things you
can consider to ensure your photographs
are true memories of your trip.
If you have a good zoom lens – most
of the shots on this page were taken
using the Zuiko 40-150mm (equivalent
to 300mm on 35mm) – focus on the
animal’s eyes as this will ensure the face
is in focus. The animal may disappear
quickly, so you need to be ready.
Try and take a range of shots of each
animal – it’s nice to frame an animal in
its natural habitat but also zoom in on
a part of the animal, such as its fur or
horns. Don’t forget to take landscape
and portrait shots and, if possible, get
photos from different levels. A photograph
of an elephant can look very powerful if
you get down a fraction lower, whereas
pictures taken at the animal’s eye-level
will appear more sensational. And don’t
ignore small details – the shot of the
lion’s paw print below perfectly
captures the feeling of tracking
When your subject is in motion, use
a shutter speed of at least 1/125, unless
you are using the panning method
where you follow the moving subject in
your viewfinder as you take the shot.
It can also be a good idea to carry
a pair of binoculars as these prove
invaluable for studying large animals
and birds. They can also be used to
spot an animal or herd in the distance.
As a general rule, don’t forget that
there will be more to see, hear and
smell in addition to what can be
captured on camera. Don’t miss the
trip because you are constantly staring
through your viewfinder, but be ready
with your camera at all times.
Remember, these animals are wild
and many hunt for their food. Always
follow the advice given by your african safari
Travelling on a South African Safari
Richard Lane offers the following tips
for travelling around South Africa…
Motorway service stations don’t
seem to exist in South Africa as
they do in the UK, so fill up with
petrol before setting off on a long
journey – you most likely won’t be
able to find petrol again before you
arrive at the next town.
When parking your car in towns
and cities you will be asked for
money by ‘parking guards’, local people
who make a living by looking after
parked cars. This is quite usual and
the charge of 20 or 30 cents is small
compared to car parking fees in the UK.
You may be more comfortable
using a compact camera in towns
and cities, as carrying an expensive SLR
can make you the centre of unwanted
attention and a target for beggars.
Remember to pack plenty of
memory cards and rechargeable
batteries as these may be difficult to
find when travelling outside of large
towns or cities.
When in the countryside the
evenings can be quiet, so pack a
video lead for your camera. You can
then make your own entertainment
by holding slide shows of your day’s
photos on the hotel room TV.
When viewing your photos on the
TV, remember to edit them. Deleting
photos that are no good can liberate
memory card space for that once-in-alifetime
shot of a lion or elephant!
Remember to charge all of your
batteries before heading off to your
game reserve. If you’re staying in a tent on your african safari, you most likely won’t have electricity.
If being driven around by a
professional guide you will be
able to get much closer to the wildlife
than you may have expected, so often
you don’t need to use a very long
Remember to stay seated in your
safari vehicle unless your guide
tells you otherwise. Lions and other
wild animals see vehicles with people
in as one big animal. If you get out
they will realise you are separate and
may see you as prey!
Don’t feed the animals! Wild
animals are dangerous and
unpredictable. In some game reserves
if animals, such as baboons, get
accustomed to being fed by hand they
have to be destroyed to prevent them
attacking visitors in the future.
© Olympus UK
Click here for more information about the free Olympus Magazine.
Return from African Safari to the Photography Tutor page.