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 Post subject: Addo Game Drives & Photography
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:24 pm 
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Location: Jacksonville, Florida
As all are probably aware by now I am going to be at Addo for a few days in February and need suggestions as to which game drives to do for a photography shoot

I am currently booked on the "SUNRISE" game drive, I would like to know whether I should book the "SUNDOWNER" drive which begins at 18:00, or if I should book the "NIGHT" drive which begins at 20:00.

My camera equipment is a Canon 40D and I have the following lenses, (all Sigma EF) 18-50mm f/2.8, 50-150mm f2.8, 150mm F/2.8 macro and a 50mm-500mm f/4-F/6.3 (This lens is no good in low light) and a Canon 580EX II flash fitted with a flash director, I suspect that the flash will be of little use to me as I suspect that the animals will be too far away for the flash to be effective.
Also the moon phase and cloud cover will play a roll, can anyone also tell me what the moon phase is on the night February 4th 2010.

Information, suggestions and advice would be most welcomed, particularly photographers.

Gavin

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 Post subject: Re: Addo Game Drives & Photography
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 8:19 pm 
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If I were you, I would go on the night drive. Not from a photographic perspective, but because there are some nocturnal animals that you stand a much better chance of seeing.

Photography on a night drive is certainly a challenge! But it can be done with a bit of trial and error :wink: . Your flash could help to some degree, but personally I don't use mine unless there's an animal very close to the vehicle. On the game drives at Addo, the guide has a powerful spotlight and it is often sufficient light to get a decent shot like this one of a duiker...

Image

Here's my method of taking such a photo :cam:

Firstly take a bean bag along to rest your camera on - this will allow you to use a slower shutter speed if the animal is staying still. On your camera, set the ISO expansion on (custom function 1.3) which will allow you to bump the ISO up to 3200 if necessary. As you'll probably be working with high ISO levels, turn on the high ISO noise reduction (custom function 2.2).

I found from experience that the camera metering wasn't accurate for this type of lighting (even spot metering), and so I simply set my camera into full manual mode, opened the aperture as much as possible (f2.8 in this case) and worked on different shutter speeds until I was happy with the exposure level. Obviously there's not always time to get things exactly right, but you'd be surprised by how quickly you learn what shutter speed might be required based on how bright the animal looks!

Your 50-150mm lens will probably be your best bet for this type of photography, but there's no harm bringing along the 50-500mm just in case. Moon and/or cloud cover really won't make much of a difference to you photos at night time - the moon simply doesn't provide enough light to be helpful even though we can see things better when it's shining brightly.

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 Post subject: Re: Addo Game Drives & Photography
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 10:26 pm 
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Location: Jacksonville, Florida
Thanks for the info, pretty much 99% of the time I am in either manual mode or Aperture Priority, the other 1% is in shutter priority. I had forgotten about the guides using spot lights, thanks for the reminder, and I have to agree that it should be sufficient light to get a decent shot, maybe not National Geo quality but probably good enough to be published.

For your night photos are you using auto WB or custom, and are you shooting in RAW (which is what I will be doing)

As far as game drives go, I was leaning towards the night drive to see nocturnal animals, though I probably would see different animals on the morning drive and the sunset drive, they would in all likelihood mostly be the types that move mostly during the day.

BTW: I looked through your shots on your site, really good work, what glass do you use ?

Thanks for the help
Gavin

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 Post subject: Re: Addo Game Drives & Photography
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 12:30 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Hi Gavin,

Generally I use auto white balance - and shooting in RAW allows a few things to be altered later if needed. I often shoot in RAW & Jpeg simply for quick access to the jpeg files (you might have seen I've done a couple of live trip reports whilst in Addo, so for speed and simplicity of image processing I just grab the jpeg files.... but at least the RAW ones are available for later).

Most of my latest shots from Addo are taken using a Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 - sometimes with a 2x teleconverter attached. I'm upgrading a fair bit of stuff at the moment, so will be selling them shortly. If you're interested you can PM me. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Addo Game Drives & Photography
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 12:55 pm 
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Honorary Virtual Ranger
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Location: Red sand, why do I keep thinking of red sand?
Gavin, either take the macro or the 50-150 and flash + extender.
You will most likely be on a vehicle with several other people. Which means that you can't control the movements of the people, so a beanbag or such is not really practical.

Don't expect award winning photos, just enjoy the drive and snap a few photos.
And yes, I would take the nightdrive instead of the sunset one.

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 Post subject: Re: Addo Game Drives & Photography
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 7:22 pm 
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Thanks guys, for any that are interested I am in a airplane flying from Atlanta to Sacramento and am testing Delta's inflight wireless network connection.

Pretty good so far ?

Gavin

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Let your hopes and spirits soar high and free and far.
Believe in the impossible, then work and try to do

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 Post subject: Re: Addo Game Drives & Photography
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 9:22 pm 
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Location: West Sussex, England
Gavin
Thats clever
Its all done with mirrors
Regards
JDW

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