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Photography and dust in late September

Newmarket, New...
9 posts
Photography and dust in late September

Hi Everyone,

My wife and I are will be honeymooning at Singita Boulders and Singita Lebombo at the very end of September and early October :) We are slowly figuring out how to pack - the standard layering vs. luggage weight issue.

I am a hobby-photographer with delusions that I will be taking National Geographic level pictures during our trip ;) So to all the safari/photo experts out there, how bad will (or could) the dust be while we are there? I only have 1 camera body, so I want to know if I am going to be in trouble if I want to change lenses once in a while.

Also, does anyone have any recommendations for lens/camera support with the Land Rovers at Singita? I know they are open top, but I don't know how high/wide the side walls are for supporting a telephoto lens (around 300mm, nothing huge).

Happy travels everyone!

Mytmoss
Level Contributor
432 posts
5 reviews
1. Re: Photography and dust in late September

You will have no problems hand holding a 300mm lens or resting it on the side of the vehicle. I personally have not use bean bags because its difficult to know what angles the animals will be seen.

As for changing lenses, I do not recommend you change them while the vehicle is moving or has just stopped as that is when the dust and dirt is flying around the most. I think common sense will tell you when its OK to change the lenses. Make sure you bring lens cleaning/wiping equipment along with you. You can use a micro cloth and a good air blower to keep it clean while on the drive. There is a product called rocket blower which is great where you can buy it online or likely your local camera store.

As for taking National Geographic pictures....I think you will likely take great ones. I came in 2nd place on an NG congest with this shot.

http://www.pbase.com/mytmoss/image/50041639

You never know what you will find. Keep your camera near you at all times. Take it with you to breakfast lunch and dinner. I have missed great shots when I left it in my room.

I do recommend that you take some sort of medium to long zoom with you. My number one lens is a 100-400 Canon Zoom. The animals can get very close to the vehicle and you may not have time to change lenses.

I hope these suggestions help a bit.

Boston...
Level Contributor
279 posts
54 reviews
2. Re: Photography and dust in late September

The dust was not a problem on our trip to the Sabi Sands in October. I did not change lenses on my SLR very often. Instead, I kept the zoom lens on that body and used my daughter's small Panasonic point-and-shoot camera for wider angle shots. (I must say, that small camera took some outstanding pictures!)

I did not use the walls of the Exeter Rovers very much when I was taking pictures with my zoom, since I was able to stabilize my camera pretty well by hand. The only time I remember trying was when we saw a full moon rising while having sundowners, but another guest decided to climb up to their seat at the same moment, and the Rover was definitely not steady then.

We took over 1500 pictures on our ten-day trip, and you will get plenty of opportunities to practice while you are out on safari. Just be ready all the time, since you never know when the animals will act in some way that will make your shot great. (Yawns became my favorite shot on our trip!)

Have a blast!

New York
Destination Expert
for Travel Gadgets and Gear
Level Contributor
1,502 posts
3. Re: Photography and dust in late September

I've gone to Africa for safari twice. I too kept the zoom lens on most of the time but did sometimes change lenses. The best advice I can give is to bring lots of different sizes of ziploc plastic bags and to keep each lens in a bag, as well as any other equipment, even when it is inside your camera bag. This allows you to grab what you need and keeps everything as dust free as possible. I kept my camera including large 100-400 lens on my lap in a 2 gallon ziploc for easy access and really never had to worry about the dust. The other advice I can pass on actually originated from my guide in Africa - if it's raining or drizzling throw a shower cap on the back of your camera to protect it from the rain.

London, United...
Level Contributor
1,717 posts
84 reviews
4. Re: Photography and dust in late September

It was pretty dry when I was at Singita Boulders a few weeks ago, and it will be drier and dustier in September (relative to other times of year anyhow). The key is to avoid changing lenses in the field if you can, and if you must change lenses to do so when the vehicle isn't moving and ideally either in a plastic bag or under some other sort of cover.

For camera support, I'd recommend a monopod rather than a beanbag as the sides of the vehicles are low (about thigh-high when you are seated) in order to give a good view. The only way to use a beanbag in a vehicle like this is to crouch on the floor or to balance it on the grab bar between you and the seat in front (not likely to be popular with the person in front of you). A monopod with shoulder brace is a much better option -- you'll also want a ball head which can hold your heaviest kit, with a quick-release plate so you can switch to hand held if need be. For shots at maximum tele, the monopod can make a big difference.

I travel with two camera bodies, using a Canon f/2.8 70-200 IS as my main tele lens with an extender for extra reach. You will get very close to the animals at Singita (close enough to touch in some cases) and the shorter focal length can be very helpful. My other main lens is a 24-105 IS. IMO image stabilisation is essential when you will be doing most of your shooting from vehicles, sometimes on the move when you are following animals.

Good luck!

Newmarket, New...
9 posts
5. Re: Photography and dust in late September

I want to say thanks to Mytmoss, Tigerbait, wanderingattorney and jasher for all the info!!

I will definitely pack a few ziploc bags to keep things as clean as possible. A shower cap, cool idea... I never would have thought of that one :) I already have the microfiber cloths and rocket blower ready to go.

It seems obvious now that using a beanbag really isn't going to work. I am still debating about taking a monopod... I really hate to carry it around on the entire trip and then hardly use it. Two of my lenses have VR (Nikon's stabilization), so they will probably get the most use (especially the zoom). But still (for me) the monopod might provide a little extra stability if any shots are in "low" light.

TigerBait: Wow, you're local! I work in Billerica :) Did you feel that a monopod would have been helpful once in a while?

Thanks again,

Steve

Newmarket, New...
9 posts
6. Re: Photography and dust in late September

I want to say thanks to Mytmoss, Tigerbait, wanderingattorney and jasher for all the info!!

I will definitely pack a few ziploc bags to keep things as clean as possible. A shower cap, cool idea... I never would have thought of that one :) I already have the microfiber cloths and rocket blower ready to go.

It seems obvious now that using a beanbag really isn't going to work. I am still debating about taking a monopod... I really hate to carry it around on the entire trip and then hardly use it. Two of my lenses have VR (Nikon's stabilization), so they will probably get the most use (especially the zoom). But still (for me) the monopod might provide a little extra stability if any shots are in "low" light.

TigerBait: Wow, you're local! I work in Billerica :) Did you feel that a monopod would have been helpful once in a while?

Thanks again,

Steve

Mytmoss
Level Contributor
432 posts
5 reviews
7. Re: Photography and dust in late September

Steve, for me personally, the monopod would only get in the way. Animals approach at 360 degrees and I would not be able to use the monopod at all. I do suggest you try to get seated in the last row of the landrover. You will get the best shots from this location. The downside to this, is that you will also have more trouble hearing what the ranger says.

Mike

New York
Destination Expert
for Travel Gadgets and Gear
Level Contributor
1,502 posts
8. Re: Photography and dust in late September

I agree that with the VR you should be ok. The drivers shut off the engine when it is safe to do so eliminating any vibration from the running vehicle. I also found that you often want to be able to move around quickly and shoot over (or around) others in the vehicle. I think the monopod would interfere with this ability.

The important thing is don't forget to put the camera down every once in a while and just enjoy what you are seeing as well.

South Africa
Level Contributor
1,597 posts
23 reviews
9. Re: Photography and dust in late September

If you will only use a 300mm lens or less you may be able to get away without extra support. My advice is however to pack an extendable monopod. You can get some very light telescopic ones that really are not a burden to bring along, and in those low light conditions when your shutter speed is slow, you will be happy to have it.

Boston...
Level Contributor
279 posts
54 reviews
10. Re: Photography and dust in late September

I forgot to check the forum for a few days. I know Billerica pretty well, since I live very close to the town line. I didn't want to carry around a monopod either, but it would have been nice for a couple of shots at the sundowners. But I really think it would have been awkward to use in the Rover.

The best thing I thought to get before the trip was a good flash, since that really helped with some shots, especially when a leopard backlit on its perch in a tree.