Your Way Of Doing A Photo Safari Is Far And Away The Best

The trip was outstanding. Having our own knowledgeable, and personable, guide and driver, plus a vehicle dedicated to our exclusive use, made all the difference in obtaining the extraordinary photos we were able to capture. When we return to East Africa it will definitely be with ADS, because your way of doing a photo safari is far and away the best.

Here are a few photos from our trip that I consider exceptional.

Best regards,

Chris and Sandy S.
San Diego, California
Safari Dates: September 10, 2013 to September 22, 2013

19 Responses to Your Way Of Doing A Photo Safari Is Far And Away The Best

  1. Brandy Werner says:

    Your photos are amazing!!!!!
    I went the end of April beginning of May, and looking at your photos makes me miss it some much.
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Carol says:

    These are the most amazing photos I have seen after reading these posts for over six months.

    What kind of camera and lenses did you use? Are you a professional photographer?

  3. Sophia Richardson says:

    Dear Chris and Sandy,

    Would you mind sharing your safari itinerary? I am planning a trip with my husband for next September to Tanzania. If I could see half of what you saw I would be thrilled!

  4. joanie says:

    My husband and I went on Safari with Africa Dreams in 2007 and it was the most amazing trip ever but your photo are absolutely breath-taking!

  5. Robert says:

    Incredible collection of photographs…well done!

  6. Anglebert says:

    Chris & Sandy
    The collection of your pictures bring lots of memory of the trip. Im so glad you share that to the ADS family. It will be a great pleasure to see you back to Tanzania again.
    Amazing pictures

  7. Ann says:

    Wow….most all the pictures that get posted on this blog are great, but I have to say — these photos stand out and are simply incredible!

  8. andrea says:

    The pictures of your safari depict the beauty and the ruggedness of Tanzania. They are truly the best I have seen on this site. Would love to get some pointers. The birds in flight are awesome. We are going with ADS in May 2014.

  9. Ginger says:

    As everyone has already said your photos are truly amazing. When we went with ADS last September the experience was indescribably wonderful, but as you know it is the review of the photos once home that brings back the memories again and again!

    Thanks for sharing

  10. Wendy says:

    Wow! Your incredible photos brought back every wonderful memory I have of our 2006 ADS experience. Beautiful!

  11. Amazing shots!! Have been on safari with ADS twice and can hardly wait until I can say three times!

    Sophia – you will see all these sights. Your safari will be amazing.

  12. Delane marynowski says:

    Your pictures are breath taking! We are going on a safari with ADS in February . Would you mind telling me the lens(s)you used you shot your pictures? I would greatly appreciate it!

  13. Chris says:

    Your photos are absolutely amazing!! So nice to see them and be reminded of the wonderful time we had on safari with ADS in July. Well done!!

  14. Outstanding pictures. I believe we crossed paths at
    a picnic site one day and you described getting one
    of those pictures to us. We got some great pictures
    also but yours are breathtaking. The trip with ADS
    was awesome. I loved every minute.

  15. Melanie & Phil Osterhout says:

    Stunning photos!!! I’m curious what size lense you shot with. We were there last October and it was by far our best vacation ever!

  16. Chris says:

    We have now returned from our Med cruise, and I can respond properly to the request about what camera and lens I used. It was a Sony Alpha 77 (with 23MP), and the lenses were a Minolta 100-400mm zoom and a Tamron 18-270mm zoom.

    The problem with identifying the above, however, is that generally it is not the camera and lens that produces the photos – it is the combination of the photographer and the image-taking techniques that are employed. To that end, the following are what I consider the most important principles of action wildlife photography designed to obtain the best images.

    1. The more mega-pixels the better. My a77 has 23MP, and that seems about right, but I recommend a minimum of 15MP. The reason for this is that after the photo is reviewed at home, it is frequently cropped and enlarged, which can substantially reduce the effective number of MP in the image (which may reach 50% or more). This can in turn either limit the size the photo can be satisfactorily enlarged to, and/or introduce unwanted pixilization.

    2. Use a DSLR. Any other type of camera is decidedly sub-optimal – and of course a “point-and-shoot”, while producing acceptable amateur pictures, is hopeless for most great wildlife images. A compromise choice could be the Sony or Pentax 50X/60X “all-in-one” zooms, but nothing beats a good DSLR.

    3. No film please – digital only.

    4. You really need a long focal length zoom that can be hand-held – with the highest zoom being 400mm (or 600mm “effective”). While some wildlife cooperate by being relatively close to the vehicle, most shots are taken from fairly far away, and I have found that a 100-400mm zoom is ideal for the job. The problem here is that most of the zooms that go to 400mm are rather large and bulky (the exception being the Minolta I use), so a step down to a 300mm may be necessary.

    5. Sensor size is important, and I believe the ideal is the APS-C (found in most DSLRs). This is because it produces a magnification factor of 1.5X for all focal lengths (with the exception of some so-called “digital” lenses that are designed solely for the APS-C smaller sensor, and hence do not magnify the image). This results in a 400mm being 600mm effective, and 300mm would equal 450mm. Focal lengths of that magnitude are frequently necessary to capture meaningful images of wildlife in the field.

    6. I never shoot in “Raw” mode, for two reasons: (a) I have found JPEG to be fully adequate for both enlarging {well up to 24 X 36} and for editing {using just the simple Apple iPhoto software}; and (b) “Raw” mode also disables the camera’s ability to shoot multiple images/second, the latter being essential for capturing “action” pictures {such as rapidly moving wildlife, flying raptors, etc.}. This is another advantage of the Sony a77, since it has an ExtraFine setting for JPEG.

    7. Always shoot in the highest JPEG resolution and “finest” image capture settings.

    8. When appropriate, use the camera’s multiple images/second capability (see #6b above).

    9. Shoot in “P” (Program) mode – (or “A” – aperture priority, or “S” – shutter priority modes if you prefer). Whichever mode you shoot in, be sure and notice what the automatically chosen shutter speed is for that mode and lighting condition – it obviously needs to be high enough to obtain a clear image – - remember the old guideline of the reciprocal of the focal length being the minimum shutter speed (as in, 1/400/second for 400mm focal length). This can be modified toward lower shutter speeds when necessary (as in lower ambient light) due to modern DSLRs having some form of internal “image stabilization” – which of course should ALWAYS be selected (except possibly when on a tripod). The corollary to this is NEVER shoot in any of the “point-and-shoot” modes.

    10. Unless appropriate to the circumstance (which is very rarely), disable the flash.

    11. I have found ISO 400 to be a nearly perfect sensor “speed”. Anything lower may tend to result in shorter shutter speeds than desired, and anything higher could introduce unwanted pixilization (when the image is enlarged). Of course when the ambient light is really diminished, then a higher ISO is required.

    12. Use the viewfinder to frame the image, not the processed image on the back of the camera (this enables a faster ability to properly locate and frame the subject of the photo). Also, and this is very important, select a zero time for the image just taken to be automatically shown on the viewer. This is because (and assuming the multiple shots/second capability is not on) you may well want to shoot the image again immediately, but of course you cannot frame and shoot it if the viewfinder is showing the photo you just took.

    13. But all of the above will be for nought if the photographer cannot hold the camera steady when taking the picture. Of course a high shutter speed here can be very helpful, but with a long focal length a steady and “quiet” hand on the shutter release button can be vitally important. If you have to, use a sand- or beanbag to rest the camera/lens on (although this can severely limit the camera’s filed of view). Also, whenever possible, be sure the vehicle’s engine is turned off when taking the photos – engine vibration definitely detracts from camera steadiness).

    14. I have found that one key ingredient to great picture-taking in the wild is patience. This may require 10-15 minutes, or even a half hour, of waiting and imaging, but it is rare that a great photo-op presents itself within the first few minutes of happening upon a scene where the animals may be located. This of course is more problematical when there is a heterogenous group involved, which is another reason why the ADS way of photo-safaris in Tanzania is so much preferred.

    15. Lastly, it is really very helpful that the rudiments of optics and photography are understood. I have been astounded at the number of people I have met, carrying thousands of dollars of camera and lens equipment, who, not only have not read the camera’s manual, but who have no comprehension of the basics of photography. By this I mean the relationship between f-stops and shutter speeds, what an f-stop is, the difference in light-gathering capability between standard f-stops, what ISO sensor sensitivity is, depth-of-field considerations, etc. Camera stores and on-line sources have very short reference works (which can be read and fully absorbed in an hour or less), but somehow they are rarely resorted to.

  17. John Calhoun says:

    thank you. Our next trip should produce better images.

  18. Ginger says:

    Absolutely amazing action photos. ADS continues to provide wonderful visual opportunities to capture such photos. To the person who asked about itinerary, Tanzania provides incredible and abundant animals to view no matter where you look. ADS guides will amaze you every day once your travel coordinator arranges your trip.
    Thank you for this photography lesson!

  19. Bill Bride says:

    Probably one of the most useful safari photography help I have ever read. Thank you!!

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