Photo: Benj Wadsworth
Capturing nature’s most awe-inspiring moments takes much more than good luck and a quick trigger finger. Careful planning, serious skill, and a little bit of luck are needed to create the kinds of unforgettable images that make an African safari so enticing, even from thousands of miles away. The photographs these guests snapped are so impressive, we wanted to learn more about what went into them. In this ongoing series, our most avid photographers share some of the secrets behind the stunning images that make us all wonder “How’d you get that shot?”
Professional photographer Benj Wadsworth joins us today.
ABOUT THE PHOTO
What do you like about this shot?
I have always been drawn to good light, crisp lines and dramatic colors in my landscape photography, and this image contains all three.
What type of planning was involved in order to capture this image?
Mostly an early alarm, as this shot was taken before sunrise. Fortunately, sunrise is not too early in Tanzania, which makes getting up for morning light quite a bit easier. Beyond the timing, I had scoped the location outside of our nyumba the evening before and had a good idea that the composition would be a good one in the morning light.
Which camera did you use, and why?
I shot this with a Nikon D600. While it isn’t the latest and greatest Nikon DSLR, I find its dynamic range and high ISO capabilities to be excellent, which enabled me to capture this image without a tripod.
Which settings did you use? Are there any technical tips you have for photographers who are more advanced?
I shot this image at f/9.0 and 1/250 second. The medium aperture allowed me to get the tree branches in sharp focus and blur the background just enough to show the acacia trees.
Which tools, during either the shooting or editing process, did you use to enhance the photo?
I relied on the image stabilization of my lens to shoot this photo handheld. Tripods are not recommended on safari, and while they are not very useful for most shooting from the safari vehicle, I did wish that I had brought one for morning and evening landscape shots. As far as post-production, I rely mostly on Lightroom, and this photo was no exception. I did very little developing with this photo…some cleaning up of dust spots (which are hard to avoid on safari!), a slight crop, and brightening the shadows was about it.
What advice do you have for safari goers who want to capture the perfect shot?
Bring a powerful telephoto lens with image stabilization! I purchased the Sigma 150-600 with a 1.4 teleconverter for the trip and was very happy with it. Next time, I would also bring a compact tripod for morning and evening landscape shots.
What’s your favorite tip to give fellow photographers?
Get up early and plan ahead to capture an interesting composition with good light!
How many years of professional photography experience do you have?
I have been an avid photographer for close to 20 years and a part time professional for 5 years.
What’s your favorite thing to photograph?
I love landscape photography and capturing people enjoying the outdoors. I have recently become more interested in wildlife photography, and Tanzania certainly enhanced that interest!
What do you think of Tanzania or a safari as an overall photographic opportunity? What made it special to photograph?
I am convinced that there is no better opportunity for wildlife photography than a Tanzanian safari. The quantity and variety of wildlife is astounding. The wide open landscapes and amazing light of the Serengeti add to the photographic potential.
Where can we find your work?