Using a Camera to Shoot the Big Five

Van Deventer, Hennie
September 2004
Nieman Reports;Fall2004, Vol. 58 Issue 3, p123
This article presents a personal narrative of a retired photojournalist about his experience in taking wildlife photographs in South Africa's Kruger National Park in the province of Mpumalanga. On a day trip through the reserve a visitor can expect to encounter a large diversity of species and at least two or three of the big five--lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. Those most fortunate score five out of five. The requirements are a decent camera, alertness, patience and perseverance. At first many prize photographs escaped me as a result of my hasty journalistic nature and lack of bush awareness. Then I toned down and refocused. Not only did my quality of life immediately improve, but also the quality of my photographs. I am thrilled to have the walls of our bush cottage in Sabiepark, a private reserve neighboring the Kruger, be adorned with special wildlife images. These pictures include members of the big five and also stately giraffe, graceful impala, quaint wildebeest, plump zebra drinking at water holes and cheetah and hyena on the prowl. There are impressive birds, too, and all of these were shot with my Canon EOS 500N fitted with a Hash and a modest 75-300 zoom. I often rely on automatic mode. As far as film is concerned, experience has taught me that 100ASA film is a good choice. It is, however, advisable to carry a couple of rolls of faster (400) film as well, for dull conditions or to get extra reach for flash photography at night.


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