Travel Thru Tanzania with Don Hamilton: Starting the Safari

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Eastern Africa’s Tanzania is a crown jewel for photographers! Amazing fauna, and flora awaits every visitor whether photographer or nature lover.

Today I thought I’d share my perspective and thoughts that provoke every photographer on a mission. How do I tell the story? How can my audience feel like they are truly here with me? Do I shoot tight or wide? Isolated subjects, or environmental shots? As this blog grows, I look forward to sharing so many wonderful images and memories. As you can see it’s a personal style and comfort level that determines your answers to the above.

Captured with Bedford Camera & Video Store Purchased Canon 1DX Mark II 100-400mmII ISO 4000 f/6.3 manual 1/1250sec

Working a pride of lions affords you the option for tight shots, along with the wider full pride shots. Here I chose to use the sweet early daylight to isolate the warm tones and hues of the Northern Serengeti morning. This mature Alpha male was indeed the dude to reckon with. I chose to get as low as possible and achieve eye level contact, thus drawing your viewers in as well. Using short focal lengths (low F stop), allows you to fade/blur out of focus the background, and enjoy the “In Your Face” experience. As you will see in part IV of the blog, we will explore the wider angle shots and see where the story is told. You’ll also see other pride members basking in the warm morning light, both lion, and lioness.


Mono vs.color is always a question on everyone’s mind. I chose Mono here since the light angle was quite high and harsh. Remember as a photographer one needs to work with the light and subjects at hand. Waiting for this small herd to look at me, with a compositional  grid, required patience and determination. Note the double horizon and the challenges it presents.

Again the Canon 100-400mmII and Canon 1DX MarkII rocked it with this harsh light.  Note: I always shot in Raw, and set my color selection to Neutral to ensure the closest “look” to the actual flat Raw mode look. Might I also add that in harsh light the highlight protection mode is a good option.

ISO 1000 1/1600sec manual f/5.6

Ahhh.. I knew some of you were waiting for the bird photographs. Yes sir this Juvi Eagle, was very patient as it surveying the savanna looking for any motion. This was the perfect shot for the Canon 7D Mark II and 200-400mm with 1.4 extender(896mm) engaged. Quickly rolled up to the port mode, as I wanted to use the perch in the presentation here. Only wished for some fluffy cumulus clouds in the background. Waited for the right head angle and I shot the Sheriff! The light was at the perfect angle as it bathed his breast and a slight breeze ruffed his crown.


Now here’s an opportunity to use the background to enhance ones story. Grazing and moving a nice steady pace, I chose to pan along and shoot a series of bursts. It is amazing just how much they can eat and consume daily! This was a very close shot 70mm with the new Canon 24-70mmII killer lens coupled with my Canon 1DX MarkII. Man it’s sharp and crisp! Classic elephants in the bush feeding.

Captured with Canon 1DX and Canon 24-70mm f 2.8

Of course landscapes were high on the list as well. Chose to shoot this early and dramatic sunset when this cloud appeared. Shooting from the safari Land Rover does introduce challenges, as one would love to have your fore front literally in your face. However with cats all around, there was no way this photographer was getting out of the vehicle, especially in the dark…

Well that’s it for now folks. Hope you will follow the blog here at Bedford Camera Video. I believe that there is almost a TB of images to sort thru.

Stay tuned for Leopards, Lions, Elephants, Giraffe, Fox, Eagles, Vultures, Jackals, Rhinos, Cheetah action including kills, stalking, and the full circle of life as Don Hamilton chronicles Tanzania with Bedford Camera Video.

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