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Okavango Delta

Updated: Apr 20, 2022

Why a Wonder: The Okavango Delta is home to the largest lions in Africa. Elephants, white rhinos and black rhinos, zebras, hippos and more thrive in this lush wildlife photographer's paradise. Named one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, the Okavango Delta is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Where: Northwestern Botswana.

When: July through September, when wildlife is most abundant and when the animals congregate around watering holes. During these months, elephants, in the thousands, migrate between the Okavango Delta and the nearby Chobe, Savute and Linyanti regions.

Photography: You can make wonderful wildlife photographs, and come home with a diversity of images, by photographing from safari vehicles and from small boats (air boats and canoes).

Bring a telephoto zoom and a wide-angle zoom. Take both environmental photographs and full-frame shots to tell the story of a wildlife encounter, as illustrated above. Sometimes, a tight shot of a wild animal can look as though it was taken in a wildlife park or zoo.

Hang out by watering holes, and you’re likely to see elephants stopping by for a drink and hippos wallowing in the muddy water. When taking silhouettes of animals at sunrise and at sunset with the sun in the frame, underexpose a little (maybe by EV-1) to prevent the sun from becoming a big blob in your photo.

As an aside, there are two reasons why you don’t want to get too close to hippos: 1) They can outrun you, and 2) They kill more people in African than any other animal.

When photographing from a moving boat, watch your shutter speed to ensure a sharp shot. Setting your camera/lens to Image Stabilization also aids in steady shots.

On your flight to and from the Okavango Delta, take some aerial photographs from your small plane. Use a lens in the 24-105mm range to get a variety of photographs. A polarizing filter will reduce the softening effect of atmospheric haze; it also reduces reflections on water. Set a shutter speed of at least 1/500th of a second to avoid a blurry shot caused by the engine's vibration. Setting an aperture of f/8 will give you more than enough depth-of-field.

More: Check out my KelbyOne class, Improve Your Creative Vision: Get It Right In Camera.

© Rick Sammon

This post sponsored by Delkin Devices.

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