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A Ranger's Guide to Taking Safari Photos

A Ranger’s Guide to Taking Safari Photos

A Ranger’s Guide to Taking Safari Photos

how-to-capture-the-best-safari-photosPhoto credit: Trevor Savage

Wildlife photography can become more than a hobby, especially when you happen to live at a safari lodge! Trevor Savage is the Conservation Manager and former Head Ranger of Ulusaba; Richard Branson’s Lodge in the Sabi Sand Reserve adjacent to Kruger National Park. He’s gone way beyond just having an interest in photography and is now such a pro at taking safari photos that a pictorial book of his images is on sale in the Ulusaba shop – in its second print.

We asked Trevor to select some of his favourite images and to give us a few tips on taking safari photos:

how-to-capture-safari-photosPhoto credit: Trevor Savage

“This is my favourite elephant shot; we had the whole herd around us, and this new-born calf came into in full view. It’s a real privilege to see such a young calf out in the open; normally the new born-calf will be tucked away within the herd, yet the family were very relaxed with us. You can see the size comparison with its mother and the gentle green background and crisp focus makes the subject ‘pop.’”

tips-on-capturing-safari-photosPhoto credits: Trevor Savage

“Most photographers dream of capturing a brilliant leopard image. I like this photo of a dominant male who stopped for a drink in a little rock pool while on a patrol of his territory. I’ve been privileged to witness this female leopard – that we call Hlangisa (the playful one) – grow up and have cubs of her own.”

Trevor’s picture perfect tips

So what should photographers bear in mind when taking safari photos?

  1. Camera: I recommend a good digital SLR Nikon or Canon.
  2. Lenses: a 28-70mm lens for landscape and a 70-200mm F2.8 with a 1.4 converter will be perfect for close-up wildlife and bird shots. Bigger pro lenses like the 200-400mm or 300mm f2.8 are great, but not easy to travel with. Ulusaba provides Cannon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 and Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 for hire in the curio shop.
  3. Other equipment: Bean bags or monopods are good for camera stability. Have plenty of memory cards and spare batteries ready charged – most guests take a lot more images than they expect!
  4. Cell phone photography: I’m becoming quite a good teacher on iPhone photography because so many guests like to post their pictures straight onto social media. Cell phone cameras are good for family shots and sunsets but are only effective for wildlife if the animals are very close to the vehicle.


tips-for-taking-great-safari-picturesPhoto credits: Oryx | Greg du Toit/Oryx | lliott Neep/Oryx | Marius Coetzee/Oryx | Trevor Savage

Another lodge in Sabi Sand Reserve, which offers dedicated photographic safaris is Leopard Hills, through Oryx Photographic Expeditions run by Marius Coetzee. Their tour leaders are award-winning photographers, who are also extremely knowledgeable naturalists and field guides. They take photography very seriously, as can be seen from their breathtaking images, and offer guests invaluable tips on taking safari photos. We particularly love a blog post on the Oryx website, showing 12-year-old Skye Meaker, whose photograph entitled “Vanishing Lions” was a finalist in the 11-14 age category in the 2014 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition. It was taken on an Oryx photographic safari to the Masai Mara last year, guided by award-winning photographer, Greg du Toit.

how-to-take-great-pictures-on-safariPhoto credits: Greg du Toit | Greg du Toit/Oryx | Oryx

Greg du Toit was also finalist in the two largest categories; Mammals and Birds, and this extraordinary image of wildebeest ‘Fleeing the Flames’ was captured on a Greg du Toit/Oryx Private Photo Safari at Singita Grumeti Lodge in the Serengeti area of Tanzania. Greg has won five Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards in the last six years.

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