This week on The Practicing Photographer, Ben Long goes where the buffalo roam: to a wildlife reserve in Oklahoma, where he encounters a herd of American buffalo. It isn’t exactly a wildlife safari, but it is a good chance for Ben to talk about the opportunities and limitations of an actual big-game photo safari in an exotic location.
Wildlife photo safaris are hugely popular in locations ranging from Alaska to Kenya to Antarctica. They’re a great way to see exotic critters in their natural habitats. And if you go on a guided safari, you’ll have someone along who’s adept at spotting interesting animals and can share insights on their behavior.
What should you expect on a big-game photo safari? A limitation, for starters. As Ben explains, you generally can’t get out of the safari vehicle—because doing so could suddenly make you look quite appetizing to the locals. You may find yourself unable to get exactly the shot you want simply because of where the vehicle stopped.
Ben also has some packing suggestions. You’ll probably want a long telephoto lens—the kind he demonstrates in his Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses course. (If one isn’t in your budget, keep in mind another piece of advice Ben shares: You can rent one from a company such as BorrowLenses.com.) Be sure to master all the gear you’re taking; animals move quickly, and you don’t want to be searching for dials while The Big One gets away.
You might also want to take a monopod along for camera support in the tight confines of a safari vehicle. And dress in layers, Ben advises, because the best animal action often happens very early in the morning or as night begins to fall.
You’ll find these tips and more in this week’s installment. And if you’ve ever gone on a photo safari or tour, feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.