The more prepared a wildlife photographer is, the luckier he/she will get when the opportunity presents itself!
When out with your family at a local game park or on the back of a Safari vehicle with Greg du Toit in the South Rift Valley, there are a few things one should be prepared for when that sensational sighting appears out of nowhere.
The reason the experienced wildlife photographers come back with fantastic images each trip isn’t because they have much more of an edge than other folk, nor is it because they are part of an elite Facebook group that shares GPS co-ordinates of unbelievable wildlife encounters as it happens.
They produce great shots week in and week out due to meticulous planning and preparation each time they venture out.
Everyone has their own check list of things that need to be done before hand, and even though each wildlife photographers list may differ, there are a few things we can’t do without out on safari.
- Make sure you have a reasonably empty memory card in your camera each morning, as well as a few empty cards nearby (all it takes is a leopard, lion kill or beautiful landscape to rack up a few hundred shots in no time).
- Place things that you might need at the drop of a hat (eg, extra batteries,wide angle lens, second camera body, etc.), most of these smaller things can be kept at arms length in a small carry bag or loose under a seat.
- Check your camera settings thoroughly, if you are shooting in jpg make sure your white balance is set correctly.
Quick tip: I usually make sure my ISO setting is much higher than usual when going out and returning in low light conditions, rather have a noisy image than a blurry one.
- Leave your camera on whilst out and about (set a reasonable sand by time so your batteries last longer, eg. 1-2min).
- Leave your lens cap off as much as possible (we’ve all hand one of those moments when a great sighting walks by and you miss the shot).
- Keep your camera in hand if possible or on the passenger/back seat if you are the one driving (wild animals and good light wait for no man, so keep your equipment close).
- Try back up your images onto an external device (or two) each day, that way you can clean your memory cards and keep your images safe.
This check list won’t guarantee you’ll be able to get ‘the shot’, but when an amazing sighting does present itself you’ll be ready to capture it!