Wildlife photography in Africa
by Dries Cronje
Africa has always been known as one of the best destinations for wildlife photography, or nature photography in general. All serious professional wildlife photographers have quite a portion of their file filled with photos from Africa. Why is this? It is because Africa presents you with opportunities for wildlife photography like no other place in the world.
Africa's wildlife is legendary. There are countless beautiful species, each unique. These species can still be seen in vast areas of their natural habitat, all over Africa. In some places, natural migrations that cover thousands of kilometers still take place unhampered by human civilization. You will not find this rich diversity anywhere else in the world.
Some of the species make such a brutal and captivating living, preying off other species that they get admired by every naturalist. Who would not like to see a lion kill? Who does not dream about finding a leopard in a tree, with an impala ram that it has just taken down? And cheetahs stalking gazelle in long grass? Obviously you would like to experience these things, even capture it on film. Unfortunately it can happen only in Africa.
Good wildlife photography usually involves capturing some action in the golden light of dawn or dusk. As I explained above, if there is someplace to see wildlife in action, it is Africa.
The golden light does not get more golden than in Africa. Believe it or not, but this is due to dust in the air. Most of Africa is dry, and particularly in the dry season it gets very dusty. This causes the sun to be very red as it leaves or approaches the horizon, causing a beautiful golden glow on any subject bathed in sunlight.
In the dry season, the bushveld is also a lot more open (not too dense) and then you can spot your subject easier and compose it with less interference (branches and leaves sticking into your photograph uninvited...)
Africa is very dusty as I said. Now, this can interfere with your photography as your camera's digital sensor must be spotlessly clean for it not to show dust on the photograph. I would therefore recommend that if you cannot afford to bring different camera bodies for each of your lenses, to either just use a broad zoom lens or only to change lenses when there is no dust around, and to not change lenses often.
Most wildlife photography in Africa happens from inside a vehicle. You can try handholding all shots, but you will delete at least half you photos if this is your approach. Rather try using beanbags or a window bracket for camera support. These will ensure you get that sharp shot.
Africa is an excellent destination for wildlife photography. Why don't you come and see for yourself. One warning though! If you visit Africa and spend a night or two under African skies, you might just be hooked for life. Even worse, if you get back home and see the award winning photos you have taken, you might just make a permanent move to Africa... Don't say I didn't warn you!
About the Author
Dries Cronje makes a living from nature photography in Africa. He offers his fellow photographers some very useful advice on his website http://www.africa-nature-photography.com