photography

Wildlife Photography Tips

The Earth Safari

Nature and wildlife photography is a photographic discipline that encompasses a wide range of subject matter. Some nature and wildlife photographers focus on beautiful pictures of impressive landscapes…even stitching photos together to create wide, stunning panoramic images.

Most wildlife photographers , though, have to go to places like parks, free-roaming zoos, and wildlife reserves in search of wildlife subjects to photograph.

Those photographers who are lucky enough to live near game reserves or large lakes are especially blessed with great opportunities to capture photos of animals in their own natural habitat.

There is something immensely satisfying about photographing wildlife and nature.

In many cases, it requires a great deal of patience and persistence to get the image that you want…sometimes the only way is a lot of trial and error.

Animals and wildlife don’t pose for the camera or take direction, so it can be very challenging to get a great shot. Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of good luck more than anything else!

Wildlife photography also requires photographers to develop their skills and knowledge of their tools of the trade. Skills such as adding or changing lenses for the proper focal length…depending on whether they are photographing a bumble bee or a moose.

Even the basics such as learning to adjust the flash, ISO, and exposure time properly to capture images in less than perfect lighting conditions, such as in a dimly lit forest.

Probably the most compelling reason people are drawn to photographing nature and wildlife is that it provides an opportunity to connect with our natural world.

These Wildlife Photography Tips will help you take better animal pictures on your wildlife safari

Lighting : Top lighting effect is not ideal for photographing wildlife or landscapes; low side lighting is better for showing detail in wildlife subjects and creates more interesting shadows in landscapes. So it’s important to make full use of the light at sunrise and again in the later afternoon. While most wildlife photographs are taken with the sunlight behind the photographer thereby fully lighting the subject, it should be remembered that some spectacular images can be taken using side or back lighting, particularly using the warm glow created at sunrise and sunset.

Exposure : Correct exposure is the key to successful photography and modern cameras, with their built-in metering systems, go a long way to reducing the possibility of incorrect exposure. However there are situations where even the most complex metering system is going to struggle. A good example would be a white bird on very dark background, the meter is likely to try and expose correctly for the background, which will over exposure the bird. This is where a good understanding of your camera comes into play. Most SLR cameras will have a +/- (over/under exposure) override and, in the situation outlined above, you will need to under expose by about 1 to 2 stops to ensure correct exposure. The same effect can be obtained by doubling the (ISO) film speed i.e. 100 to 200ISO, but remember to change these setting back before moving on.

In any situation where you are not sure about the exposure you can always bracket. For example if your metering reading is 1/60th at f8, take one picture at this setting, then two further exposures at 1/60th at f11 and 1/60th at f5.6, to do this you may have to switch the camera to manual mode or use the +/- override.

Depth of Field : When the camera lens is focused to give a sharp image of a particular subject, other objects, closer or further away, do not appear equally as sharp. They can be made sharp by ‘stopping down’ using a smaller ‘f stop’. The higher the ‘f stop’ number, the more depth of field is available. It should be remembered that as you stop down your shutter speed will get slower and subject movement will become more of a problem.

‘Stopping down’ is important when photographing plants, insects and other small subjects as it reduces out of focus distractions. The opposite procedure can be used to help isolate your main center of interest by making background or foreground distractions go out of focus.

Don’t forget that you can check the depth of field created by any given ‘f stop’, by using the depth of field button on your camera, This button allows you to preview the finished image though the view finder and to make adjustments to your own satisfaction prior to making any exposure.

Shutter Speed : Different shutter speeds produce varying effects with regard to subject blur and camera shake. Fast shutter speeds are desirable for stopping movement, such as flying birds and eliminating camera shake. It is worth remembering that is some situations movement of the subject during exposure can often result in a pleasing pictorial image.

Composition : The automation of modern cameras has taken away most of the technical pit falls of photography. Composition is the tool by which we can express our artistic thoughts and so demands an active input. It is therefore in your own interest to be fully conversant with the factors relating to good composition. Many newcomers to photography tend to produce all their images in a horizontal format, partly because of the layout of modern cameras which lend themselves to this shape. Remember they work equally well when turned through 90 degrees to a vertical format.

Changing your viewpoint can totally alter your image, we get used to seeing everything from a standing position, by kneeling or even lying down you are going to show an angle that we are not familiar with, which will often produce a more unusual result. A wide-angle lens used in this way can create some very interesting effects.

Think about where you are going to place the main point of interest in your image, avoid placing your subject in the center of the frame. If it’s an animal, it needs room to move or to look into the picture space. A flying bird should be flying into the picture rather than out of it. Always attempt to get a ‘highlight’ in the eye, as this gives life to the subject. Do pay attention to the horizon line, particularly in landscapes and avoid splitting your picture in half, think in ‘thirds’. Zoom lenses have become a great asset by allowing control over subject size and perspective, with out moving the camera position.

By utilizing a range of lenses it is often possible to secure an interesting sequence of images of an animal. The longest lenses for a close up of the head, through to a wide angle, which will show the landscape.

Blur The Background: This is one of those wildlife photography tips that is particularly handy on a safari because often there is vegetation in the image that is distracting and blurring it gives more emphasis to the wildlife subject. If you are photographing a herd of elephant you might want to make sure that they are all in focus so you will try and limit the blurring present in the scene.
The fancy name to describe the portion of the scene that appears sharp throughout the whole image is depth of field. But more important then knowing what it’s called is knowing how to control it. Three factors affect depth of field: the aperture, the focal length of the lens, and the camera to subject distance.
Of these three, the aperture is the one that you have the most control over on a safari. A big aperture opening (e.g f/4.5) will lead to more background blurring while a small aperture (e.g f/22) will lead to the overall scene being sharper.
Remember which is which by matching up the similar first letters, so Big = Blurred and Small = Sharp. That tends to limit the confusion to a minimum. Make sure you know how to change the aperture opening on your gear before you go on safari.
Focus on the Eyes: A wildlife photograph where the subjects eyes are out of focus loses a lot of its appeal. The reason is probably that we as humans are naturally drawn towards looking at eyes and if you can’t see them due to blurring it’s a little jarring.
Whatever the reason, always keep the eyes of your subject in focus and if you can capture the sun glinting in the pupil you get bonus points because that really livens up the picture.
Create Active Space: Leave space for animals to move into when you frame your images. This may seem like one of the obvious wildlife photography tips but in the heat of the moment it’s easy to forget the basics.
Use a Beanbag or Window Mounted Tripod: Hand holding your camera in safari wildlife photography is often a luxury because of the large lenses which magnify every vibration and the low light of dawn and dusk when the subjects are most active. So some kind of rest to lean your camera equipment on is a very good idea to keep your pictures pin sharp.
Most of your photography on safari will be done from inside a vehicle so a tripod to stabilize your camera is impractical. A beanbag does the job very well and it’s very quick to set up. Simply place it on a convenient surface, rest your camera lens on it and click away.
In open safari vehicles, a clamp onto an armrest or seat back is just what the doctor ordered to minimize blur. In closed vehicles, you can make use of window mounts. It’s a little more inconvenient than a bean bag because you need to affix the camera to the mount each time you want to take a photo (the mount stays fixed to the window while you drive) but it does the job well.
Know Your Gear Before You Go: Buying or renting a new camera and/or lens shortly before going on safari is not a good idea if you don’t have time to practice and get some experience with it.
A safari is not the best time to learn because wildlife is unpredictable and often they aren’t going to give you enough time to fiddle with the camera settings and setup before they disappear into the undergrowth. So you need a reasonable amount of practice with your camera and lens so that you can do things quickly.
Also, it will be a huge disappointment if you go all the way to India and Africa and your safari pictures are not as good as they should be because you are inexperienced with your equipment. A safari is often a one time trip so you won’t get any second chances. Make sure you are well acquainted with your equipment before you go.
Visit your local zoo or safari park to prepare. Pets also make excellent subjects to test your photographic skills on.

Notes : Either date and or number each film, using an indelible felt tip pen. Then, by keeping details notes of what you saw each day, you will then be able to accurately caption your photographs.

Code of Conduct : It should always be remembered that the welfare of the subject is more important the photograph. Do not go too close, Do not use flash if it might disturb the subject, Do not make lots of noise. Do not discard any form of litter. Take only pictures leave only memories!
The beauty of the natural world inspires us and frequently takes our breath away. So when we can capture that feeling or effect with beautiful nature photography, it’s just an incredible sense of achievement!

The Earth Safari Team

www.theearthsafari.com

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Categories: India, photography, Wildlife photography | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The most luxurious lodges in Africa

Following the announcement of the Royal engagement between Kate Middleton and Prince William, the spotlight has very much been on Kenya’s Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. The private reserve, in the Laikipia region of the East African nation, served as the perfect romantic retreat for the future King of England to propose to his long term girlfriend. There can be few experiences more intimate and idealistic than whiling away the hours with a loved one in an exclusive African lodge. There is something so special about this mysterious place, something enrapturing, hypnotizing even, and as anyone who has visited the continent will testify, utterly unforgettable. The rhythm of the African drum will beat in your heart long after your departure.

We have decided to take a closer look at some of Africa’s, other, luxurious lodges; alternatives if you will, to the William and Kate experience. Perhaps someday soon you might be sharing your own special moment, with bended knee or not, in luxury Lodges.

Shambala Game Reserve, South Africa Tucked away in the stunning Waterberg Mountains, Shambala consists of 10,000 hectares of pristine South African countryside; a place that, though relatively small compared to other reserves, still boasts the chance to see Africa’s elusive ‘Big Five’, (Lions, Elephants, Leopards, Rhinos and Buffalos). As well as its animal interests the reserve also has a human heart at its core, a family run cultural village which acts as a living, breathing information center where visitors can learn all about South Africa’s incredible history. The accommodation is preoccupied with authenticity and tradition, the Zulu camp, consisting of six fantastically appointed Zulu Huts, offers five-star accommodation but with a real sense of cultural legitimacy. All of the huts come with spacious double bedrooms and full shower facilities, providing all the comfort you might need to create some magical memories.

Chobe Game Lodge, Botswana – The only permanently fixed lodge within the Chobe National Park, the site is perfectly located along the Chobe River to observe the largest concentration of elephants in Africa. The sleek lines and elegant qualities of the lodge’s Moorish architecture create a sense of light and space; the typical features which include high arches, barrel-vaulted ceilings and tiled floors all contribute towards a clean and classic aesthetic. The 47 rooms are adorned with original African paintings and carvings, retaining a real sense of place as well as boasting all of the comforts of modern living; the accommodation’s considered design also makes it ideal for families and children.

Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, Namibia – Sossusvlei is quite literally a desert oasis, nestled between the spectacular dunes of the Namib Desert and the jagged outcrops of the rocky escarpment. You’ll feel like you’re really part of the African experience when you stay at Sossusvlei, where the ten individual villas constructed out of stone and glass offer the perfect symmetry between modern minimalist design and traditional African design. All are air conditioned to keep you fresh during the day and cosy fireplaces have been installed for those cooler winter nights. Despite being located on the periphery of a desert there is still an incredible array of wildlife to be seen, including the iconic oryx, Hartmann’s mountain zebras, antelopes, springbok and smaller mammals such as the bat-eared fox, aardwolf and porcupine.

Thanda Game Reserve, South Africa Thanda, a word derived from the Zulu for love, was awarded the prize of ‘World’s Leading Luxury Lodge’ at the recent World Travel Awards. Thanda offers a range of accommodation to suit all budgets and tastes, from the opulence of the royal private villas or the warmth of the main lodge to the rugged refinement of the tented camp. Located 23 kilometers north of Hluhluwe in Zululand, the reserve is a tribute to South African cultural heritage, and as a romantic sanctuary of peace and tranquility, many would consider it peerless in all of Africa. Catering for adults and children alike, it boasts fine dining and a wellness center, were natural holistic approaches to treatment will leave you feeling revived and refreshed. Let’s not also forget the wildlife, the big five are at your doorstep and because the reserve is so close to the Indian Ocean, horse riding on the nearby beaches or a trip to the Isimangaliso wetlands are also a must.

The Earth Safari Team

www.theearthsafari.com

Categories: Africa, beautiful, Botswana, Conservation, earth, Eco tourism, Holiday, hotels, lodges, Namibia, Nature, photography, resorts, Safari, South Africa, Tourism, Travel, Uncategorized, Wildlife, world | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Top 10 Safari Destinations in Africa

Africa’s top wildlife safari destinations include wildlife parks in Kenya , Tanzania , Uganda , South Africa , Botswana , Zimbabwe ,Zambia , Namibia and Gabon. If you’re looking for the best safari where you’re almost guaranteed to see the “Big Five” you can’t go wrong with these choices.

1. Masai Mara National Reserve – Kenya

Kenya is Africa’s most popular safari destination and the Masai Mara Reserve is the most popular wildlife park in Kenya. From July – October you can witness the incredible migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra. The Maasai tribesman also offer cultural tours which will enhance your experience.

2. Chobe National Park – Botswana

Chobe National park lies in Botswana’s Okavango Delta and covers four distinct Eco-systems. The Savuti marsh in particular offers some of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Africa year round. Chobe boasts around 120,000 elephants, you’re unlikely to miss them when you enjoy a safari here.

The best time to visit Chobe is between May and September, the dry, cooler winter months. Herds of zebra, eland, buffalo, giraffe and wildebeest congregate around the Savuti marsh this time of year. Chobe is accessible by car which makes it a little less expensive than some other Botswana Parks. There’s a wide variety of accommodation available to suit all budgets, you can even rent a houseboat.

3. Kruger National Park – South Africa

Kruger National Park in South Africa boasts the highest variety of wildlife in Africa which includes the Big Five, hippos, crocodiles, cheetah and more. Kruger is one of the best maintained parks in Africa which means it’s ideal for a self-drive safari.

4. South Luangwa National Park – Zambia

Home of the “walking safari” South Luangwa National Park in Zambia offers a true African experience. There’s plenty of wildlife and over 400 species of birds. The Luangwa river is filled to the brim with hippos and if you’re lucky you’ll spot prides of over 30 lions at a time. There are 60 different animal species and over 400 different bird species living in the National Park.

South Luangwa offers both budget and luxury safari lodging. The best time to visit is during the dry season from April to October. Near the end of the dry season, the animals really concentrate around the remaining waterholes, which makes for a great safari.

5. Serengeti National Park – Tanzania

The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania offers the absolute classic African safari setting. The grasslands make the Serengeti fantastic for spotting lion kills because you can see the whole spectacle clearly. The migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra starts here and because it’s much larger than the Mara (see above), it is also less touristy.

6. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – Uganda

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda is home to almost half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas. Besides offering a wonderful backdrop to Gorilla tracking, you can also see chimpanzees, and many other mammals. Bwindi has been designated a World Heritage Site.

7. Etosha Natonal Park – Namibia

Etosha National Park is Namibia’s top wildlife destination. Etosha is home to Africa’s tallest elephants, the endangered black rhino, and 91 other species of mammal. Etosha is especially popular with photographers in the dry season who flock to the waterholes (along with the wildlife). Etosha doesn’t offer scheduled game drives, it’s a self-drive safari experience.

8. Loango National Park (Gabon)

Loango National Park in Gabon is probably the least well known park on this list but it’s only a matter of time before it’s discovered. Loango is the only place in Africa where you can see whales, chimps,gorillas and elephants in one park. In Loango you get to enjoy watching wildlife on the beach, savannah, swamp and forest in a single day.

9. Ngorongoro Conservation Area (Tanzania)

The Ngorongoro Conservation area in Tanzania includes the world’s largest crater which acts as a natural enclosure for almost every species of wildlife found in East Africa. The Maasai still live within the conservation area, and it’s also home to Olduvai where some of man’s earliest remains have been found.

10. Hwange National Park (Zimbabwe)

Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe is a personal favorite of mine because of its abundance of giraffes, elephants, and lions as well as 105 other mammal species. Hwange also has one of the largest populations of wild dogs left in Africa. There are several comfortable lodges to stay at for reasonable prices. The park is close to one of the world’s greatest natural wonders — the Victoria Falls.

The Earth Safari Team

www.theearthsafari.com

Categories: Africa, Botswana, Conservation, earth, Eco tourism, Gabon, Holiday, Kenya, Namibia, Nature, photography, Safari, South Africa, Tanzania, Tourism, Travel, Uganda, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Zambia, Zimbabwe | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Most Photographed Places on Earth

What is the most photographed place on earth? The question is of course impossible to answer and one can only muster a guess. Countless places lay claim to being the most photographed place in the world, including Paris, The Taj Mahal, Walt Disney World, Niagara Falls, Angkor Wat, the Acropolis to name just a small handful.

The only thing that is widely accepted, is that the Sun is the most photographed object (sunsets and sunrises seem to be universally irresistible). But sticking to “planet earth”, let’s take a look at some of the most photographed subjects around the world. Judge for yourself if you consider them “photogenic”.

Here is a checklist of sorts, for people, places and things to photograph on your travels. Some of them are famous, while others may seem a little odd. Either way, whether it’s a bridge or a toilet, some places get all the photographic glory! (Please keep in mind there is no way to verify the following claims.)

■The Africa “Big Five” (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, buffalo) are considered the most photographed animals in the world.
■La Digue island in the Seychelles claims to be the most photographed island in the world.
■Santorini is the most photographed island in Greece often considered the most photographed island in Europe.
■The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is considered to be the most photographed event in the world.
■Table Mountain is the most photographed landmark in South Africa.
■Den Lille Havfrue (the little mermaid) from Copenhagen is the most photographed statue in the world.
■The Golden Gate Bridge is the most photographed US landmark, and most photographed bridge in the world.
■Designed by Frederick Hundertwasser, the Kawakawa public toilets in New Zealand are the most photographed toilets in the world!
■Neuschwanstein castle in Germany claims to be the most photographed castle in the world.
■The Eiffel Tower Paris is considered the most photographed structure in Europe.
■The Evangeline Oak in Louisiana and the Lone Cyprus tree in California are each touted as the most photographed tree in the world.
■Ayers Rock is the most photographed sunset in Australia.
■Abbey Road is often considered the most photographed street in the world.

■Niagara Falls may be the most photographed waterfall in the world.

The Earth Safari Team

www.theearthsafari.com

Categories: beautiful, earth, Holiday, knowledge, Nature, photography, Safari, Tourism, Travel, Uncategorized, Wildlife, world | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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