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Let's Pack for a Photo Safari

Photo EquipmentA garden photo-shoot and a safari have a lot in common. They both normally take place at some distance from your home base. And they both require photographic equipment. They also demand some thought before packing for a photographic adventure.

These thoughts generally take three forms. One is what to wear on these treks, and then there has to be the consideration regarding all the various support elements one is going to need to assure a successful venture. Another most important thought is to determine what kind of camera and accessories you are going to need for a successful photo shoot. Creating a checklist makes sense and including instructions on that list to charge all batteries before heading out on the trek may help avoid a catastrophe.

Lets consider the clothing first. This may be the most important consideration for lady photographers. It should be a major consideration for everyone. It’s not just a matter of how you will look, as important as that is. Clothing also protects you from the environment and provides storage nooks and crannies, sometimes called pockets. They are used to transport and store known and unforeseen items of support such insect repellant, lip balm, skin cream, spare batteries, mad money and much more.

PhotographyDetermine what the specifics of the weather forecast are on your particular safari venue and select clothing that’s appropriate for that forecast. Cotton or cotton blends are almost always the best choice as they provide smooth and absorbent textures.

The color of clothing is best selected after considering the anticipated temperature and intensity of sunlight expected. Select light colors to keep you cool when lots of sunlight is evident, as you want to reflect that sunlight. Choose darker colors when it is likely to be cool. Absorbing the sun helps warm you up a bit.

Cargo PantsThen there are the pockets and the more the better. Cargo shorts and pants for men and women can be quite stylish and functional. Long sleeves and pants protect arms and legs, but many prefer shirts that are sleeveless and shorts for ventures in a moderate climate. A classic fishing shirt works well on a photo safari. Some feature hooks, loops and closed or open pockets on the front. Mesh-lined cape vents on the back shoulders can keep you cool and comfortable. UV-protective fabric keeps you from feeling excessive heat.

Shoes should not only be comfortable, but rugged. Select shoes with good traction capabilities, as you may want that stability when traversing wet rocks or slippery banks of mud or grass. Resistance to moisture is essential, as the shoes may need occasional rinsing to remove dirt, leaves and detritus that will normally adhere to them.

Hats may or may not be desired by you but they are very useful to keep extreme sunlight out of your eyes and off your face. Insure a good fit to any hat in order to resist strong breezes from causing it to sail off when you least want that to happen.

EducationIf it looks like it might rain, take along a waterproof jacket. Even if rain isn’t expected, a simple rolled up poncho stuffed in your tote bag or pocket will provide insurance.

Remember, as with all clothing, the better quality and condition of the clothing, the better you will look and feel. Safari styled fashion is designed to look great and function well in an outdoor environment. You and your fellow trekkers can also look great wearing these fashions in almost any restaurant environment that would be considered an appropriate dining venue for you on these photographic enterprises.

Next, we will consider the non-photographic supporting elements you may want to take with you on your photo safari. To do this, consider the environment you are going to be in when taking your pictures. As previously mentioned, you should consider having insect repellant if those pesky critters show up. Sun block and lip balm can be applied or reapplied if needed during the day. Sanitary wipes are greatly appreciated after you have had to handle unexpected yucky things during the venture, and you never know what that may be. Often, when you walk too fast or the humidity isn’t just right, breathing can dry your mouth out. Reach into one of those pockets in your shirt or pants and pull out lifesavers or whatever means of instant moisture that you prefer. And don’t forget the breath spray in the event that someone really important comes around to personally and intimately greet you.

Did we forget to mention sunglasses? And don’t forget the flat slips of plastic or paper cards that let you into a botanical garden in the first place or allow you to charge breakfast, lunch and dinner plus a toast to the whole group in your safari. We also believe in hoarding a few spare batteries for cameras, flash units and flashlights plus a small flashlight for whatever, band aids, spare keys and of course, a pair of good quality lightweight binoculars for viewing birds, animals or plants from a distance. Carry a lens cleaning cloth for the camera and binoculars. Definitely carry a water bottle and or can holder that can attach to your belt. That belt could also be a money belt to hold your emergency funds in the event that your wallet decides to go off on its own. If you are a birder, a small identification book can be appreciated when a new species comes out of nowhere. Perhaps an umbrella that can clip onto your camera tripod will come in handy as well as one for each of your safari mates.

Digital PhotographyNow we come to a consideration of cameras to bring along on your safari. We will state up front that this is a very complex issue as camera choices are numerous in terms of selecting brands, quality and features. If you don’t already have a good camera, we urge you to consult with a professional or at least read as much as you can on the subject. We cannot hope to perform that function in this short discussion. But we can suggest certain features that would be useful for the amateur photographer and that amateur is who we are focused on in this article.

Many professionals still feel that using film results in the best end product as far as photographs go. However, digital is quickly taking over for most photographers as it provides excellent quality and a large number of options in camera choices. Digital for most cameras means you can opt to take both still and limited videos whenever the occasion arises. Digital cameras also allow for the use of large capacity removable photo storage (memory) cards with the possibility of backup cards to be carried with you. This assures that you can take as many photos as you would like and not be concerned about purchasing film or enduring photo-processing charges.

Following your safari, you can simply connect your camera to a computer and download your photographs into that computer for storage and manipulation. We highly recommend going digital for most of our readers. In this article we are going to refer most directly to still cameras so those of you using video cameras should simply fill in between the lines or we will end up creating an overly long article.

Digital CameraMany photographers like to carry two cameras. One could be a lightweight compact camera often referred to as snapshot or point and shoot camera. They are easy to carry around and can be used to capture that picture of a rapidly appearing subject or a specific subject that you want to experiment with before getting serious about a really good quality photograph. Again, with digital you can see what you have taken immediately after the picture has been captured and that helps you make decisions on what subjects you want to spend more time on.

The next camera is often a larger camera with considerably more features to control light, focus and range and with interchangeable lenses to provide wide-angle, telephoto, low light, etc. As we said before, there are a lot of issues involved in selecting the right camera for your goals, so we recommend that you perform your due diligence in this matter.

Photgraphy EquipmentSome of the support equipment you will want to bring along is your camera bag (make it reasonably waterproof). You might consider a backpack style bag that keeps the bag out of your way except when crawling under a bush. Pack that bag with whatever lens options you are going to need. You will need a good quality tripod to hold your best camera when doing a serious set up for a special photograph of a subject or scene. A tripod head allows the camera to be mounted on a pistol grip that affords pretty reasonable control for aiming and shooting photographs of moving objects such as birds and in obtaining panoramic shots. They are usually pretty heavy so this is a photo-method you normally plan for rather than wander aimlessly about in hopes of getting a good shot. Make sure you have a tote bag that can accommodate this item. Don’t forget light stands, umbrellas, strobes, reflectors, clamps and the like if you are planning to control the lighting on your shoots.

Have we forgotten anything? Probably, but it’s hard to remember any adventure, where that hasn’t happened. Just try to make the oversights as few as possible and you will have the best chance for that perfect photo shoot safari ever.

Amazon Picks for “Lets Pack For A Photo Safari”

Following are a few recommendations that may serve as a guide in planning for a photo safari. The actual choices are unlimited and should be made based on your preferences rather than our suggestions. All of these recommendations can be located at Amazon.com.

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