There’s a reason why most game drives take place in the early morning and late afternoon – and it’s nothing to do with photography.
It is the heat. Africa gets pretty hot during the middle of the day so most predators are either active during the night or in the early hours of morning and just as the sun is setting, when it is much cooler. During the day they tend to find some shade a rest.
Given that the focus of most game drives is finding predators like lion and leopard, it makes sense to go out when they are most likely to be active; quite apart from the fact that we don’t much like driving around in the heat of day either.
There’s not a great deal of excitement photographing lions when all they are doing is this.
much better to catch them in the early morning
or late afternoon when the light is golden and brings out ther full richness of their colours.
From a photographic point of view that works out perfectly. The early hours of daylight and the last couple of hours of afternoon light are the best for photography. The light is warmer, gentler, less harsh, and brings out the colours in flora and fauna.
Even animals that are out in the open all day look much better when the light is at its best.
Know the rules but break them when you need to
That’s the theory and it’s certainly true that most of the really great photographs are taken in those golden hours but, like all rules this is one that has to be broken from time to time.
Whenever I am on safari my camera rarely leaves my hands. I may not be taking photos all the time, but I am ready and just because it is not the best time of day doesn’t mean that nothing will be happening.
Cheetahs, one of my favourite cats, are active during the day; they rely on speed to hunt rather than stealth.
Elephants too, are on the move all the time, constantly foraging. So photographic opportunities will definitely present themselves.
This is by no means a great photograph, the light is way too harsh,
but seeing that baby elelphant hiding under it’s mother, sniffing the strange smells of its new world with its trunk was a special moment, and this is a great reminder of that moment.
Look out for Part 4
The art of taking photos on a wildlife safari
4 – Use your surroundings.