Navigate / search

Wildlife shooting

I was recently in the Kapama Private Game Reserve for a 4 day wildlife shoot. I feel I need to share my experiences of that shoot.

  1. What equipment to pack?
    Now that is a rather good question, to shoot wildlife I recommend the following 2 lenses:

    – A 100-400mm, you will need the reach

    Lion at a distence please.

    A long lens is advisable for shoots like these.
    – A 24-70mm f/2.8, to shoot before and just after sunrise/sunset, when reach is not that important any more.
    – I would also take a 70-200mm f/2.8 if I could for the same reasons as above.

    I also recommend a professional flash for the night and spare batteries. To catch the boma’s (restaurant), a tripod may come in handy. Don’t forget plenty storage and camera batteries.

    Boma Restaurant - long exposure

    A tripod is required to get shoot’s like this one.

  2. Travelling
    If you are travelling by plane, chances are that an international carry-on bag will not fit in the cabin of a local flight to a small airport like Eastgate Airport in Hoedspruit, to my horror. It will fit under the seat but to your comfort cost. I have a Think Tank Airport Acceleration V2 and under the seat it just fits. I recommend that you check what kind of airplane you will be using and the maximum weight allowed on board.
  3. Shooting
    Be ready for anything, choose your lens carefully before leaving, I typically leave with a 70-200mm early in the morning and switch to the 100-400mm when light permits. In the evening I apply the same reversed.
    Set your camera to the highest continuous shooting mode it has, I also set my ISO to auto but be careful to check that it does not go too high. I also shoot entirely in RAW and mostly in Shutter Speed Priority.
    I get asked why Shutter Speed Priority, it is really simple to avoid movement blur, unless I want it.

    Vulture on take-off

    Slow shutter speeds will result in movement blur.

  4. The rangers
    Talk to your ranger and try to sit behind him, you’ll get a better angle every time.


    Framing can be achieved with your ranger’s help.

  5. Flash?
    I hear a lot of criticism regarding flashes in wildlife photography, so I will let a couple of photos speak for themselves and let you decide…

    Brotherly hug
    Roar or yawn?

But I think more important is to enjoy the experience and come back with some trophies.

On a personal note I would like to thank the rangers and staff of Kapama Main Lodge for their impeccable support and assistance.

Pascal Parent

Pascal's day job is as a technologist but you can mostly find him behind a camera after hours. As a passionate photographer he regularly shares his experiences with the world. From how-to to reviews you will find it all in his regularly updated blog and other places.


Nitric Oxide Review

What could it be with regards to perusing things through somebody else’s eyes that presents such an excellent perspective? I am quite thankful for the invention of the blog as well as how it has changed the net in to a huge variety of distributed views. I essentially ended up here via Google when I was doing a bit of research for the course work that I have. Had a blast browsing through your posts and I will be adding you to my Google Reader to keep track in the future. Cheers!

Peter Betts


just seen your blog and the flashes at lions at night at Kapama..Rather usea high ISO camera likea Nikon D3S or D700 and a bit of spot near the cat ..Flash is extermely damaging to cats retinas (200000 times more sensitive than humans) Night drives should be banned as these half baked guides want tips…its not their cats so who cares


Peter Betts
Pro wild Life photographer

Leave a Reply