Updated: Jan 25
Why a Wonder: Tarangire is a protected and well-managed national park in Tanzania that covers about 1,1000 square miles. This natural wonderland is filled with thousands of animals – including large herds of elephants (3,000 resident), zebra, wildebeest and cape buffalo – and stunning landscapes dotted with beautiful baobab trees. Bird lovers/photographers come to Tarangire to see/photograph some of the 550 bird species that are found here. Like wild dogs and rock pythons? This National Park has them . . . and much more!
Where: In Tanzania's Manyara Region.
When: Either in the Dry Season (June to October) or in the Wet Season (November to May). We explored the area in November with Unique Safaris, when all the photographs in this post were taken. I prefer the Dry Season, because I like the way the animals look against the brown color of the grasses, as opposed to having lush, green foliage surrounding the animals. That said, a Wet Season safari may be in our future!
Photography: To begin, here's my basic set up for photographing from a safari vehicle.
I'd suggest using two camera bodies, one with a 100-500mm lens, and one with a 24-105mm lens. Two camera bodies offers the advantage of not having to change lenses, which can slow you down when the action is happening fast, and which can cause dust to get on your camera's image sensor.
Don't forget your iPhone! You can get some cool shots, like the one above, and videos !
Vehicles are not allowed to drive off the dirt roads in the National Parks. Before our trip, I thought that would limit my photography. But as it turned out, there are so many animals that I came home with a much higher-than-expected number of keepers. Many of the animals come close to the roads, as illustrated by my photograph of a mommy baboon and her two little ones, beautifully backlit by the late afternoon sun.
Above is another example of how close the animals often come to a safari vehicle.
Try to tell the story of your adventure. As simple as it sounds, you can do that by zooming in and out while you are taking photographs, as illustrated by these photographs of elephants taking a mud bath.
Focus on details, too – which is what I did when photographing a nearby zebra.
As I mentioned, Tarangire is a bird-lovers paradise. If you are lucky, you'll find them relatively close to the road, so you can get some nice shots with a 100-500mm lens. Remember: If the eye is not in focus and well lit, you (and I) have missed the shot. Below Left: Secretary bird. Below Right, Saddle-billed stork.
Below is my favorite bird – in the world: the lilac-breasted roller. Again, it was taken from our safari vehicle which was stopped on the road. Check out the catch-light in the bird's eye. Quick bird-in-flight tips: go for wings up or down shots, set your camera to Continuous Focus and Eye Detection, and shoot at the highest possible frame rate.
Don't miss out on the wonderful landscape photo opportunities, especially at sunrise and sunset. When composing your photographs, try to place the main subject or subjects off center. FYI: the photograph below is an iPhone photograph.
The photograph below is also an iPhone shot, processed with Distressed FX. In processing this image, I kept this photo adage in mind: "Mood Matters Most."
A final tip: Have fun! As Groucho Mark said, "If you are not having fun, you are doing something wrong." Below: We had fun every night at "happy hour."
Learn More: If you’re looking for a safari provider suggestion, we used Unique Safaris for our tours, and they were excellent. Our friends Lynn and Meg are experts at custom designing a safari. Keep in mind that the Serengeti is not a budget destination, and a trip can cost on average around $8,000 per person, depending on how long you decide to stay.
Do you have your own photos of this Photo Wonder? Feel free to share them in the comments below!
© Rick and Susan Sammon
This post sponsored by Unique Safaris.