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Pointers by Paul's Photo

Lessons from Africa

I just returned from leading three photo safaris in Kenya. Three awesome groups to three amazing locations where we had tons of fun and captured hundreds of fantastic photos. Whenever the CPA group travels together there are lessons learned. Here are a few lessons on photographing animals on safari.

Lesson #1

The right kit makes picture taking more fun and more successful.

This was our first safari with 100% full-frame mirrorless cameras. The Nikon, Canon and Sony cameras performed superbly; we had zero failures on safari! My personal kit was fantastic capturing the moving animals, local people, scenery and video of Kenya under challenging light and conditions. What was my kit? Nikon Z9, Nikon Z8, Nikon Z8-converted to InfraRed with 24-120mm, 100-40mm, 400mm 2.8+1.4x and a 1.4x converter packed in a ThinkTank FirstLight 46 bag.

Lesson #2

Know your camera and use the technology to your advantage.

Nikon Z8 and Z9 autofocus was spectacular! AF-C, Wide-Area-Small + W-A-Large, and Animal Face Detect followed mammals and birds thru the grass and in the air. Finding and following focus in auto allowed me to capture magic moments that were fleeting in previous cameras. Today’s Auto-Focus technology changes dramatically what photos you take and what photos you make successfully!

Lesson #3

Great lenses make the best photos.

The Nikon Z S-Line lenses (just like Canon RF-L and Sony GM) made spectacular photos under challenging light conditions on safari. Dusty, backlit, soft-light subjects glowed brilliantly. Wide-Aperture photography superbly isolated the subject and produced razor-sharp images with detail that was unheard of three years ago!  Look at the clarity and the depth…. It’s almost better than being there.

Lesson #4

Speed captures the magic moment.

Speed in photography is your friend. Speed sees the intimate action. Speed can make award winning photographs.  FAST Shutter Speed captures the minute movement and makes a thrilling image.  A Shutter Speed of 1/4000 or 1/3200 (Nikon Z8 & Z9 shoots up to 1/32,000) freezes the movement of the lion roar or the cheetah running. Not only Fast Shutter Speed but shooting speed (frames-per-second) is vital to success. Making 20 pictures-per-second sees every nuance in a movement. It captures the look in the eye and the gesture in the gait. I was never a fan of high-frame-rate photography until I experienced what Nikon Z9 can do (or Nikon z8, Canon R3 or Sony A1).