Kenya is a photographer’s paradise. Skies, animals, bird and people are wonderful to photograph. Please do stop whenever you want a picture. If you take a photograph of a masai, they often ask for money. Please be discreet while photographing them – they are sometimes sighted grazing their cattle within the game park too. You could also visit a Masai Village (optional – takes a while to get there from Mara Serena). You require powerful zoom lenses for wildlife photography. Special films are not very easily available, while 100 or 200 ASA is common. Please bring the cells, and chargers. Please carry enough film or your laptop – you might take too many photographs without realizing.
As a basic guide we suggest that each person have their own camera, a 35mm or 5+ mega pixel digital camera. Interchangeable lenses are recommended, with a normal lens and a telephoto of at least 200 mm, although a 400 mm or more is preferable for close-ups and for photographing birds. Other lenses e.g. wide angle, macro etc., may be brought. Cumbersome flash units and tripods are not generally recommended. Try to ensure that at least one member of the party has a video camera.
Film: With long focal length lenses, we suggest that you choose a film speed of 400 ASA. In the early mornings and late afternoons and in other low light conditions, you may wish to have some ASA/ISO 200, 400, or even faster film (bring some rolls of 1000 ASA for late evening and poor light conditions), but for good daylight conditions ASA/ISO 50 and 100 speed film is fine. Be sure to bring adequate quantities of film with you as it is more expensive here and you may not be able to find the film you normally use. For still photography, we suggest that you allow one or two rolls of 36-exposure film per day, per camera. For video cameras you should expect to shoot about 30 minutes of tape per day. You should bring several spare batteries for all your photographic equipment, especially video cameras. You should also carry a charger for the video batteries and a lead to operate the video from the vehicle cigar lighter when required. Bring camera and lens cleaning equipment for the dust (a blower brush and a soft chamois cloth work well). Another useful item is a small compressed air canister to blow dust off your equipment.
It is strongly recommended that each person has his/her own pair of binoculars. These need not be of an expensive make, but on safari they are essential for seeing birds and animals in the distance. The ideal size is 7 x 42 . Bird watchers will want to bring a Spotting Scope.
Please make sure that you are thoroughly familiar with all your equipment before starting your safari. If the equipment is new, please give yourself time to shoot at least one roll of film and have it developed before departure
Camera (with extra batteries)
Telephoto Lenses (200 -400 mm)
Lens Cleaning Equip.
Film (double the amount you think you need)
Extra Camera Batteries
Lead Bag for Film
Battery Charger (12V or 220A for video cameras)
Zip Lock Bags
A notebook or journal to record your day’s adventures while they are still fresh in your mind!
Photography Tips –
When taking close-up shots with a long lens set the aperture at f8 and focus on the animal’s eyes. This ensures most of the face will be in focus.
Have your camera set up, so you prepared for those fleeting moments. A good place to keep it is at f8, servo mode with aperture priority.
Bracket your shots. For example, when taking photos of an elephant, take one portrait shot, another with the environment in view, then another shot with close-up detail, such as mouth and tusk.
Use low contrast film when the sun is bright and high contrast film when it’s cloudy or dull.
Vary shots in vertical and horizontal modes.
When the animal is moving you will need a shutter speed of at least 1/125, unless you are using a panning technique. Birds in flight require speeds of 1/500 or more.
If you have time, do not take a photo at the earliest opportunity. Look out for background and foreground distractions, which seem to appear out of nowhere.
A lens of 300mm in focal length is the minimum for mammal photography. If your interest is in taking photos of birds then 500mm is a good starting point
Try not to centre all your shots, leave room for the animal to walk into. Otherwise, all your photographs will appear static.
If you are on a safari, don’t take all your photos from the roof hatch of the safari vehicle. Better photos can be had when you make use of the windows. Photographs taken at the animal’s eye-level will appear more dramatic.