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On safari in Botswana
Memory capacity:
Most people no longer travel with their laptops as there are so many alternatives available for storing your images. The first and
most obvious is your memory cards. Today you can purchase cards with high memory capabilities. However, I like to use a
photo reader as it allows me to edit on safari if need be. These readers can now go to 120 GB and more, which is plenty for a
10 day safari. I like the Epson P5000 as it portrays true colour and allows me to view the image at 100%. This will tell you if you
have achieved sharp focus or if camera shake has cost you the shot. The viewer acts like an external hard drive and so it is
easy to use as part of your back system. I have noticed through the years that people easily take around 2000 to 3000 images
on a safari. And so you can work out that you will need at least 30GB for a 8.2 mega pixel camera shooting in RAW. The rule is
the more the better because we never know just how much we will do and it is better to be prepared. One word of caution - I met
a traveller that had just bought a 8GB memory card that could not be read by his older model digital camera. Please check with
the assistant who sells you the card or with the manufacturer of your camera.
After your safari:
Getting home with all your images and having the luxury of time to go through them can be as much fun as the safari itself! The
very first thing I do though is to back them up for a second time on an external hard drive. (Who said that digital photography is
cheap!) From there, I go through each image on a viewer ( a programme or software often supplied with the camera) to extract
the very best of my images. This can be tough but the best advise to be your own worst critic! The rule of thumb however is that
if you hesitate don't delete. You want to avoid disappointment! It is true that you can take a thousand shots to get a handful! This
exercise of going through your images one by one will vastly improve your knowledge of photography and thanks to the digital
era you can even inspect your shutter speeds, ISO and apertures right there! If you have chosen to shoot large JPEG files, it is
advisable to save all them as a TIFF file. JPEGS diminish in quality the more you open them up.
Apertures, shutter speeds, exposure settings and ISO's:
Many photographers prefer to put the camera on aperture priority. This means that you manipulate the amount of light entering
the lens and therefore the appropriate shutter speed automatically set by the camera. The effect that it has on the image is
one's depth of field and when applied to wildlife photography, it can be critical. For example, when photographing a bird, getting
the eye in focus is important and so an aperture of around 9 is appropriate. The wider the aperture the greater the depth of field,
the more the background blurs out. The wider the aperture, the more light comes through the lens and therefore the faster the
shutter. Basically, it pays to play with the settings.
Using the shutter priority allows for to manipulate the shutter speed. This is handy when you want to be more creative and go
for what we call a motion blur image. It is also used for long exposure shots like of the moon. Or it is used to attain the fastest
shutter speed that your lens will allow to freeze the action.
From advise to experience, setting a digital camera to under expose by 2/3rds of a stop will generally give you a much more
saturated and contrasted image. This especially with the bright light available in Africa. Under exposing also increases your
shutter speed thus helping to avoid camera shake and therefore achieving a sharper image.
The ISO settingso n the camera allow one to shoot in low light conditions, for example when the sun goes down. Upping your
ISO will help to increase your shutter speed and therefore diminish camera shake.
Photography is about having fun and the camera is a tool used to record. We always suggest to people to practise before
travelling out here. If you have a pet cat or dog, get them to model for you from portrait style images to action. See if you can get
your dog to chase a ball and then try and get a sharp image of it. This will show you just how tricky a good wildlife shot can be to
attain. Practise different settings so that you have a basic knowledge before coming out. We will show you the rest.
Photography tips by Steven Stockhall