How To Shoot A Lion

As I was saying in my last post I’ve been editing my friends images from her time in Africa. We took her 3,000 images down to 500 using IPhoto and its ability to rank photos using stars.

I told her I wouldn’t do more than 500 and now after two-and-a-half days of editing using Aperture I should have said 200 images !

What in the frijole was I thinking?IMG_1057

Anyway all is done and if I do say so myself the editing went well and most of the images came out looking very good especially considering most of the shots were taken with an all-weather point-and-shoot.

So what have I noticed in my friend’s shooting that I could help her with for next time.

Number one would be to shoot more! If this had been my trip and I was living in the country I would have taken upwards of 10,000 images. And why so many? Because when you’re shoot something like a lion which you may never see again outside of a zoo shoot more than one frame! Cameras can get it wrong. Sometimes we are shaking the camera more than we think we are. Sometimes the light is wrong and taking more frames might just save the day.

Second have a backup system in place. My friend showed up my door with all 3,000 images on her Macbook Air. Before I did anything I made a copy of all her images on one of my external hard drives and then I recopied that file folder to a second archival backup hard drive. Then I took a copy of all her images and brought them into my computer. Now that her images are existing in multiple places I feeling much more secure about working on one copy. I’ll be burning a DVD of her finished images and keeping a copy for safety on my backup system.

For travel photography I’d recommend shoot with 16-gig fast memory cards. These don’t need to be top of the line when it comes to speed but your camera will ingest images quicker if you’re using a medium to fast speed name brand card. Don’t go overboard here but don’t go cheap. These days decent 16-gig memory cards should cost between $30 to $60 each. If you want to have a bunch of cheaper, slower name brand cards as backup that’s fine but have a couple of decent cards as your primary cards.P1010115 (1)

If you’re shooting RAW images with a DSLR then buy the fastest cards you can afford and you might want to consider buying 32-gig or even 64-gig cards.

I’ve got two 64-gig slow name brand cards that I pack as emergency backups. Since each card can hold thousands and thousands of JPGs or about half that number of RAW images I’m never afraid of running out of memory. I just wouldn’t consider using them for action events like weddings or sports 🙂 .

If you’re going on an extended stay consider bringing a laptop with an external hard drive or at the very least one of the new devices that can download your images to an external rugged hard drive. Don’t even consider using the Internet to upload your images to your Cloud storage or online gallery unless you know for certain the cost per megabyte you’re going to be charged for this service. Hotels can have killer rates.

When it comes to cameras, based on what I saw from my friend’s shots, which were taken with a Panasonic DMC-TS4 98 per cent of all shots could be taken with this or similar cameras.

Only a few shots of animals in trees required a zoom range over 100mm and even then most amateur photographers wouldn’t have got the shot. (One of the reasons is most amateur “safaris” take place during midday when the sun is directly overhead causing huge issues with contrast. Pros want to shoot at dawn and dusk and hire the best drivers to take them and maybe one other person to the best shooting areas during the best seasons for shooting animals at watering holes. Shots taken at noon look washed out.)IMG_0700

Now if it were me I’d take my Olympus cameras plus an all-weather point-and-shoot for shooting in the pool or during dust storms!

If you’re willing to carry a slightly bigger camera than a point-and-shoot I’d highly recommend something like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 all-in-one. At $400 this camera is a steal.

FujiFilm has been making some amazing non-DSLR cameras and I’d be looking at what they have to offer if I was looking for a new camera.

But if you insist on bringing your big, expensive DSLR (faster, better sensor, cleaner images) with a bag of lenses (sharper, longer, faster) and I’d be tempted if shooting animals was my number one reason for the trip) then I’d bring two bodies plus a wide zoom (12-24), a long zoom (18-300 or the 70-210 f/4 zoom which at f/4 is about half the price of the f/2.8 and about half the weight), a macro lens (They have to pry my Nikon 105 f/2.8 macro from my dead cold hands!) and a fast 50 or 35 f/1.8 for shooting around the campfire or bar at night 🙂 Plus pack a flash that can be remotely controlled from the camera.

If you’re going on a pro safari you don’t need me to tell you that you’ll need a big empty bean bag (get the beans at a market in Africa) to support you’re 200-400 or longer zooms plus you might want to hire a kid to carry all your stuff.


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