If you are nourishing the idea of having breakfast with cute manor giraffes in kenya, or admiring the graceful addax wandering across a meadow, you should know that they also make for beautiful models for an incredible snapshot. There are many protected areas and national parks known as paradises for wildlife photographers, especially in the countries of east africa. Here are some useful tips to capture memorable wildlife pictures during a trip to nature.
The bodies of most modern cameras are sturdy and you have a choice of full-frame or crop cameras. The body of a crop camera is usually better than the expensive full frame’s body as most of them can be used for long-distance shoots (1.6x), in which case a lens with a focal length of 200mm is as good as a 320mm lens. Every brand-name product has its own strengths. When photographing animals in the forest, the most important thing is to have a lens which photographers often call “gun”.
CHOOSE A SUITABLE “GUN”
Being the “battle rifle” (tele lens) that it is, you need to buy a lens which has a wide focal length with a minimum of 70-200mm, the wider the better, as you can encounter animals both very far away and really close up. Wildlife photography “hunters” cannot approach their wild “models” and must travel in specialised vehicles and on top of that are not allowed to go out of the designated area. A lens with fixed focal length is really inconvenient. It is recommended to use an anti-vibration lens with a good light-sensitive sensor. Lenses from f2.8 to f4 are great! Or you can buy a camera with a focal length of 70-200mm, and a 1.6x or 2x converter if it is a cheap camera and the focus speed is slow. But when using this kind of device, sometimes you will miss beautiful moments in nature that only last a second.
The best choice is a lens with a focal length of 400-600mm. If the focal length is over 600mm, the lens is too long, so when heat ascends from the ground, the air will be disturbed and this results in photos that are out of focus.
Do not forget to prepare and bring a lens with a medium focal length: 16-35mm, 50mm, or 24-70mm. These lenses will be extremely useful to capture portraits and daily life scenes when entering traditional villages or markets, or to take photos of loved ones and friends in the beautiful scenery of Africa.
HOW TO SHOOT?
When capturing moving objects, we always need to prioritise speed. You should choose a speed of at least of 1/640. If the lens and body are fast, you can set the speed to 1/1000. You should only reduce the speed to 1/250 if the photo still lacks light after adjusting other parameters to their lowest setting. Set the ISO automatic mode up to 1600 only. If you set the ISO mode to a higher parameter, the image will be broken when zooming in.
The aperture: you can open up your aperture as most lenses have the aperture up to f4 or f5.6, but if the weather is very sunny, it can be reduced to f8. Except for photographers with lenses fixed at f2.8 costing thousand dollars, anyone can capture beautiful photos in any light conditions.
Choose Centre Weighted Average mode to balance the overall picture with a strong bias towards the centre of the frame and change to Al Servo so the camera always focuses on the object. When encountering a situation where you do not know when you should start shooting, such as hunting or fighting scenes, set the camera to continuous shooting mode, like burst or high speed, then you can check and choose the best shot later.
Last but not least, no lens is better than your eyes and no memory cards are better than your mind. So look with your eyes, capture with your mind and feel with all your heart.
♦ The weather in these areas is quite dry, so if your trip lasts only a few weeks the equipment won’t get wet, however if you travel a lot and there is a lot of dust, you need specialised cleaning tools to use frequently when needed.
♦ Place the camera on a coat or scarf on the seat when not using it, to prevent the camera from shacking.
♦ It is very expensive to buy a high quality new lens for a trip lasting only a few weeks, with the cost possibly being the same as the budget for the trip. Renting lenses is also not a cost-effective solution. So the best solution is buying a new or used lens in prestige shops and then selling it after the trip. This way you only need to spend 1-2 million VND for this. Of course, the lens should be protected carefully during the trip.
♦ Capturing an object with many different focal lengths allows an array of impressive pictures. So also try the longest focal length on wild “models”.
♦ During different times of day and in different settings experiment with taking a few photos to check the light mode, increase or decrease the EV from 1 to 2 stops for the best image.
♦ Use memory cards with 16Gb as they are more reliable than a 32Gb or 64Gb card. It’s a good idea to copy all your photos onto a computer, phone or your Google drive every day.
Thanh Cao | Wanderlust Tips