Thanks Beth for having me as a contributor to your Harambe Safari series. I’ve really enjoyed reading along and have learned a lot.
Today we’re going to take a look at photographing one of the more challenging attractions in Walt Disney World, Kilimanjaro Safari. I am sharing a few simple tips that have helped me along the very bumpy safari ride. Whether you are using a DSLR or a Point & Shoot you should be able to bring home very special pictures from Kilimanjaro Safari along with your “wild” memories of the experience.
For Kilimanjaro Safari I break out my Nikon 18-200VR Zoom lens. I like it because it gives me just enough reach on the safari. A 300mm Zoom lens would be better but I know holding a 300mm lens steady in a jostling truck is not something I could do easily. I find not extending the lens zoom to its far end will also help keep it steady. The safari truck moves along at what feels like a quick pace. Its top speed is a mere 10mph but it feels much faster. Combine that with rugged terrain and you have a quite a challenge. Switching to “Action or “Sport” mode for point and shoot camera users should help.
If you have a DSLR, raise the ISO to 800 for overcast days and 400 for bright sunny days, set your aperture as wide as it will go (smallest F number) to give you the fastest shutter speed.
“ Zoom In , Zoom Out”
The beautiful sprawling savannah landscape sets the scene for the safari. Make sure you capture a few wide shots with the lush vegetation framing the savannah. It's exciting to see animals off in the distance and it’s great to be able to zoom in on them but don’t concentrate on too many close-ups or composition. The moment is fleeting and you’ll surely miss the next shot if you attempt to compose. Better to shoot a little wider and crop later.
“Timing is everything”
My favorite time to ride is first thing in the morning and again around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. It’s cooler in the morning and the animals are fresh and can be seen out grazing. I will sometimes grab a Fastpass, ride standby, and then ride using my FP. Late afternoon the animals are active because they know they will be going into their barns soon. Don’t shy away from riding in the rain either. I’ve gotten some great shots of the elephants playing in the rain and the first time I heard the lion roar was during an afternoon shower. The driver will not stop nor will they slow down for you to take pictures so shoot away.
“Location, location, location!”
My favorite seat is about midway down on the left side. When you first step up to the loading platform you want to be the first in your row. You may request this position of the CM, but you may have to wait for the next truck to get your position. The hippos, giraffes, elephants and crocodiles are on the left side. Sometimes I’ll request the last seat, which is a nice position because you can turn around and shoot out the back. It’s bumpier though and the drivers tend to slow down so the folks in the front can see the animals as they describe them and then quickly speed up, leaving everyone in the back wondering what the driver was just talking about.
“Steady as she goes”
I’ve mentioned how bumpy the truck ride is and there’s nothing you can do about it, except maybe sit in the front. I don’t really like the view in the front so I steady myself with each shot. Hold the camera close to your body, elbows in, hand supporting the lens from underneath, brace yourself against the seat, exhale then shoot. Oh and you must remain seated at all times. Don’t even think about standing up to take pictures. No sitting on your feet either, don’t ask;)
“Always Be Prepared, Scout!”
You don’t need a big fancy DSLR to get great shots. I was able to get a great shot of Flamingo Island with the ancient baobab tree in the background with my little Nikon 3100 point and shoot camera. I know, you’re wondering what was I doing shooting with a P&S on THE Safari when I have a fancy schmancy setup. Well, that leads me to my final tip for today. While you’re waiting on the long queue, prepare for the ride. Setup your ISO, check your lens settings, check your batteries, and check your memory card ;) You don’t want to be caught out in the “wild” unprepared!!
Thank you so much, Deb, for the great tips! Kilimanjaro Safaris is definitely one of my most challenging spots to capture just the right photos, but one of the most exciting spots to practice my photography skills. Also, I am so excited and impressed to see a photo of the lion upright!
|What a great self portrait - I would never have thought to do this! Deb is so creative!|
Here are the posts included in this series:
Part #1 ~ A Close Encounter on Kilimanjaro Safaris with Me
Part #2 ~ Safari-Inspired Scrapbook Layouts & Tips with Mary of Capturing Magical Memories
This was the final post in this series. Next month, we will be back discussing Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival, which begins this year on March 7th. If you are looking for more series we have shared on this site, you can find them on the new tab above called Disney Themed Series.