Phone Photography on Safari

Phone photography on safari is usually not the go-to method of capturing images, right? I have hosted many guests on various safaris throughout the years and I've seen a wide range of photographic gear being pulled out of bags. I fully understand that the "bigger" cameras and lenses are used first as as these will create the most appealing looking or higher quality images but my question to you is as follows...

Do you ever use your Phone to capture moments on safari?

The reason I'm writing this blog, is because I want to prove to you that a Phone can do the job. The technology in todays phones is incredible and whilst I know there are many of our followers that think they need the "top of the range" camera equipment to join us on an adventure, I'd like to prove differently.

Are you reading this as one of those people? If yes, I am so happy that you have found this blog.

You will see two images below that I photographed with my iPhone...

iPhone Photography On Safari | Safari | Travel | Wild EyeiPhone Photography On Safari | Safari | Travel | Wild Eye

Would you agree with me when I say that these are pretty decent captures of these magnificent creatures?

If yes, great!

If no, please have a read through a short review from a former "non-photographer" guest and what she had thought of a photographic driven safari.

"I just returned home from my first photographic safari. I've been on other safaris before but this was a very new experience for me because, well, I'm not really a 'photographer!' :)
Apart from my iPhone, I don't own a camera. I don't use those enormous cameras and lenses that Deji, my husband enjoys shooting with. I probably couldn't tell a 70-200 from a macro lens!!  And you know what? I'm completely comfortable with that.
However, I was a little nervous about traveling with a bunch of photographers as a 'non-shooting companion'; I wasn't sure how much fun I would have being trapped in a vehicle for several hours a day with advanced photographers. I feared that I would be bored to tears hearing photography fanatics yakking on about f-stops and radial blur and ISO for 10 days straight. I thought I might feel out of place. Eventually, Deji’s wild enthusiasm about his previous Wild Eye safaris and his excitement about the Best of Kenya itinerary won me over. 
My hesitations about fitting in with the group started to vanish once I met I met the group and especially, our guide, Michael Laubscher. He made me feel like I belonged; I never felt that my value as his guest was tied to the size of my camera. I noticed that our group had photographers of every skill level and Michael was great at making everyone feel comfortable. 
Michael was patient and precise with the advice he gave each person and I found myself picking up on the photography lingo swirling around the vehicle or the dinner table. His enthusiasm infected everyone whenever we came to a great photography opportunity especially when we caught a glimpse one morning of a striped hyena!! The sightings were spectacular and the landscapes were absolutely gorgeous. I loved the Masai Mara and Lake Nakuru but my favourite sights by far were the elephants and mountain and varied landscapes of Amboseli.
I ended up taking dozens of beautiful photographs and videos with my iPhone - I will treasure them for years to come but when I think back, some of my most memorable moments happened when I just put down my phone and just basked in the beauty that unfolded before my eyes.  
Thanks Michael for making it fantastic experience."
- Elaine Odetoyinbo
Thank you for those kind and meaningful words Elaine.

I'll be honest, capturing beautiful, unique or special moments out on safari are some of the bigger focus points while on a Wild Eye safari. But that said, another major aspect is to also have fun. I can assure you that every single Wild Eye guide will go out of their way to ensure that each one of their guests are having the best time regardless of the level of their photographic skills (or the lack thereof). One thing that you need to remember is that on many non-photographic safaris, most of the participants are on a checklist race to try and see as many things as they possible can.

In my opinion, this is quite sad and I say this because there is so much they miss out on. I have noticed that sitting in a sighting for a long time, for example, waiting for a leopard to wake up and jump out a tree, offers one the opportunity to take in so much more. You can learn so much more about the species, their behaviour or habits. Just by spending time observing also allows you to truly enjoy the tranquility of the area you are in. You will also be pleasantly surprised by another animal walking through the scene that may lead to some incredible interactions. This last point is something that has happened to me on a number of occasions.

Okay, I am wandering off-topic here a bit now so let me get back to Phone Photography on Safari.

One thing I use my phone's camera for a lot, is capturing special moments of guests in the field. This is for two main reasons;

  • It's easily accessible
  • I do not have to change lenses in dusty conditions (which also takes some time).

Trust me when I say, your phone's camera will do a great job in capturing these moments in either in still or video form.

Here are some more of my iPhone safari moments:

iPhone Photography On Safari | Safari | Travel | Wild EyeiPhone Photography On Safari | Safari | Travel | Wild EyeiPhone Photography On Safari | Safari | Travel | Wild EyeiPhone Photography On Safari | Safari | Travel | Wild EyeiPhone Photography On Safari | Safari | Travel | Wild EyeiPhone Photography On Safari | Safari | Travel | Wild EyeiPhone Photography On Safari | Safari | Travel | Wild Eye

 

Here are some Phone photography tips:

Clean your lens

This might seem like an obvious thing to do but you’ll be surprised at how many times you compromise your shots because you didn’t clean your lens. We place our phones on tables or safari vehicle seats (you don’t know what’s on there) so do be sure to clean the lens before you take your shot. Some changes to photographs might not be noticeable to the eye but the difference between clear and crystal clear is crucial. This small difference is obvious to the trained eye.

Get closer (if safe to do so) instead of zooming

The one frustrating thing about Phone photography is the loss of quality when zooming in. If you want a close up, make the effort to get closer to your subject or wait for it to get closer to you instead of zooming in. Zooming causes the pictures to become grainy and pixelated.

Leverage simplicity

When you have too much going on in a photo, it can distract from your main subject. The reason why this is especially true with Phone photography is the final resolution of a photograph. Try to filter unnecessary elements out of your photograph when you compose your shot.

Shoot From A Low Angle

Most people do Phone photography from chest height. This is usually the most convenient way of taking a picture. But there are usually more creative options for taking great photos. Learning how to take a good photo involves thinking outside the box. An easy way to improve your photos is to shoot from a different perspective. Often the best way to do that is to shoot from a lower angle where possible. There are three great reasons to take pictures from a low angle.

  • First, your photo will be more intriguing. It shows the world from a new perspective.
  • Second, shooting from a lower angle shows your subject with nothing but sky in the background. This is perfect for removing unwanted distractions and in turn this makes your subject stand out against the plain background.
  • A third benefit of shooting from low down is that you can show interesting details in the foreground.

Shoot Silhouettes

Come to think of it, one of the best Phone photography tips is to shoot silhouettes. A silhouette is the dark shape of an object taken against bright light. Silhouettes create stunning photographs that catch the viewer’s attention and they’re actually very easy to achieve.

So how do I shoot an incredible silhouette photograph with my Phone you may ask. All you need is an interesting subject with a clear break between the horizon and the subjects belly and then simply shoot towards the light. For great results, ensure your silhouette appears nice and dark. In the camera app, tap to set the phone's focus and then swipe down to darken the exposure. You can always darken the silhouettes further with an editing app.

Silhouette photography works best during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset. With the sun low above the horizon, it’s easy to position the light behind your subject which will result in getting a beautiful coloured sky as your background.

Sunrise and sunsets are typically the best times for taking silhouette photographs but you can create them wherever there’s a light source behind the subject.

Silhouettes create dramatic and eye-catching images and backs me when I say that this might be one of the best phone photography tips that you learn today.

Apps for editing

There are so many editing apps out there today but here are 10 top editing apps that you can use to alter your phone's photographs. It's important that every Phone/DSLR photographer, finds that one app/software that will be your go-to tool for editing photographs. Know that having an editing app is essential if you’d like to elevate your phone photography skills.

It’s also a fun medium to play around with and a creative opportunity to enrich your photographs & safari experience.

So that is my 2 cent worth regarding Phone Photography on Safari and I do hope that this blog has not only taught you something, but has also inspired you to venture off on the exciting journey of phone photography.

If you have any questions regarding anything mentioned above or more, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Until next time;

Michael

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