I have been taking wildlife pictures on African photo safari trips now for more than a quarter of a century and there has been one factor above all others that improved my wildlife photography attempts remarkably.
It has nothing to do with f stops, lenses, composition, the camera or even photography technique itself. Those are the basics that every wildlife photographer grapples with to get passable pictures anyway.
No, the one major thing that has allowed me to take wildlife pictures that often generate positive comments from people who view them is this...
Ok, here's a practical example from my experience why independent self guided African photography safaris will help improve your wildlife photos by leaps and bounds.
I took the lion photograph below on a self drive safari to the Kruger National Park in South Africa recently.
The fact is that if I had been on a guided safari it would have been impossible to take this picture because I had to wait about two hours before this sequence occurred.
A guided safari operator doesn't have the luxury of being able to spend so much time with an animal because they have to keep all their guests happy and move on quickly to try and find something else.
In fact I saw a few of these safari vehicles, packed to the brim with African photo safari travellers, stop for five to ten minutes to allow everyone to get a lion portrait and then charge off again. Needless to say they didn't get to photograph what I did.
Patience in wildlife photography is often the only difference between a mediocre portrait picture and one that will wow the folks back home. And self driving gives you the luxury to decide when to wait and when to go. You call the shots, literally.
Cost effective - Go on safari for longer periods of time for the same price as a guided safari (often twice as long) and increase the likelihood of getting some fantastic pictures.
Use this self drive safari budget calculator to work out how much it will cost. You will be amazed at how much you will save compared to a guided safari.
Positioning - Move your vehicle at any time to capture the exact angle that you want. On a guided safari you have to take others in the vehicle into consideration and asking the guide to move regularly for a better angle could lead to irritation.
Also, the animal could be on the other side of the guided safari vehicle and then you can't push in front of your fellow photographers to get the picture whereas on a self drive you can simply climb onto the back seat or turn the car around.
Space - Spread all your photography equipment out on the back seat of the vehicle without getting in anyone else's way.
Stability - The long zoom and prime lenses necessary for wildlife photography need stable platforms to keep results sharp and a beanbag or clamp on your vehicles window is ideal for this purpose.
Jostling as photographers jockey for position in a guided safari vehicle can lead to blurred images.
Wildlife Sightings - You can see just as much wildlife on a self drive as a guided safari and the quality is often better because you can spend more time to observe and photograph.
You can also get pictures of the smaller creatures because unfortunately many (but not all) of the guided safaris give priority to the "big five" animals.
Privacy - Choose who you want to take with you on your African photo safari with a self drive rather then being lumped together with a group of strangers on a guided safari.
Independence - Go where and when you want without being tied down to someone else's schedule.
So as you can see, going on a self drive African photo safari gives you an almost unfair advantage over the guided safari brigade when it comes to wildlife photography.
It may sound like a difficult thing to guide your own African wildlife photography safari, but let me assure you it's not. Like I said, I've been doing it for over 25 years now and have got it down to a fine art.
In fact, I've been doing it for so long now that I thought I may as well write a guide to help anyone to successfully go on self drive photo safaris in Southern Africa. I've covered the top game reserves and national parks which I have self driven numerous times myself. Everything you need to know about guiding your own safari is detailed in this 248 page guidebook.
Learn how to Guide Your Own African Photo Safari here...
I'm confident that going on your own independent African photo safari will help improve your wildlife photography as much as it did mine.
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