Trip Report: Private Guided Chobe Photo Safari

Andrew Beck Andrew Leave a Comment

I was privileged to host a private guided safari for a couple from Durban a couple of weeks back and, since then, have been so busy wrapping up bits and pieces at the office that I almost forgot about the trip report! This trip was a birthday gift for an avid photographer who wanted to spend some quality time honing his photographic skills and mastering some of the technical aspects. Add the fact that this photographers wife, who joined him on the trip, enjoyed fishing and Chobe became the ideal location for this safari!

Chobe Photo Safari Wild Eye-6

Rather than working through the trip on a day by day basis I thought I would share some of the benefits that the guests felt they gained by joining me on this trip to Chobe.

Photographic Tuition & Guidance

This is obviously the most important component of any photographic safari, but this trip was ideal in that it gave the guests 5 days of continuous photographic guidance. During this time I was able to expand on the basic concepts of aperture & shutter speed, explain the benefits of using the back focus buttons on the Canon 7D, setup back focus on the canon 7D, and discuss various compositional and artistic aspects that should be considered in wildlife photography.

Each day we were exposed to a variety of photographic scenarios, each one providing another opportunity to learn and grow. These included:

  • Manual exposure compensationChobe Photo Safari Wild Eye
    • general settings
    • birds in flight
    • sunrise & sunset
    • backlit subjects
    • birds perched against a bright sky
  • Using Slow Shutter Speeds
    • panning with a subject
    • zooming in or out
  • Depth of field
    • using depth of field to tell a story
    • variables & factors which affect depth of field
  • Low Light Photography
    • settings for capturing the night sky
    • capturing lightening strikes
  • Shooting for Processing
    • Black & White
    • High key Black & White
    • Overexposing versus underexposing

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As you can see, we covered a lot and this may seem pretty intense, but each situation was discussed in context (whilst we were photographing) and the theory was put into practice straight away. This is the best way to learn!

Flexible Itinerary

This private guided safari was probably the best example of how flexible one can be whilst on safari. Our typical day would kick off around 05:15 as we headed out on the photographic boat to trawl the banks of the Chobe River in search of game at sunrise before returning to the houseboat for breakfast at around 08:30 or so.

After a quick breakfast we would be back in the boat as we headed out to the Kasai Channel for some tiger fishing before returning to the boat for lunch around 13:00.

After a Lightroom session and a compulsory afternoon nap whilst the houseboat cruised peacefully along the Chobe River, we were back on the photographic boat from 16:30 until 18:30 or so. Each evening was spent downloading the days images and working though some of the cataloging and processing techniques in Lightroom.

The beauty of this daily itinerary is that this is what the guests wanted to do. It was not prescribed!

Chobe Photo Safari Wild Eye-2

Lightroom Tuition

For those of you who don’t use Lightroom yet, don’t worry, there is hope! My guest on this safari had been using iPhoto and was getting rather frustrated with the program. I assisted him with a trial version of Lightroom 5 and each day we would get together to download images. Once the images were copied across we would work through them, looking at what settings worked and which didn’t, identifying why certain images were soft or out of focus, and then finally starting to run through the basic editing process.

By the end of the safari, my guest had established a workflow which he was comfortable with and had a decent understanding not only of how Lightroom works, but how he could photograph with post processing in mind!

Chobe Photo Safari Wild Eye-3

The Photographic Boat

This is one of the unique features of our Chobe Photo Safaris and makes photography on the Chobe River an absolute pleasure. The wide bottom of the boat provides a stable platform from which to photograph a variety of wildlife and birdlife. This, coupled with chairs that rotate 360 degrees and are fitted with a custom-built gimble design, mean that you can photograph anything from any angle!

Speaking of angles, the photographic boat also allows you to get up close and personal from a low angle on all of your subjects.

Chobe Photo Safari Wild Eye-4

Equipment Rental

When you’re heading to one of the greatest photographic destinations in Africa, you want to be sure that you make the most of what could quite possibly be a once-in-a-lifetime trip. We help you make the most of your time with us by offering discounted rates on our camera equipment rentals. For this safari I took along the Canon 1D MKIII and the 300mm F2.8 lens for the guest to compliment his existing gear.

Chobe Photo Safari Wild Eye-5

Chobe is a fantastic place to grow your photographic skills because there are just so many subjects to photograph. Add to this the fact that you spend 3 nights docked inside the Chobe National Park on a houseboat, and you have an absolute winner.

I cant wait to return in July 2014!

Andrew Beck

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