McKay Photography Academy’s journey to Tanzania has just ended. What an EPIC Wildlife Safari this one was! 

Tanzania has almost become a second home to Ally and me. We are often asked if you could do only ONE tour, what would it be. We both usually say Tanzania.  We LOVE going to many places in the world, yet, Tanzania, with the wildlife, and the people, who are now like family to us, always draws us back again and again. 

There is a sense that you are a part of something bigger here. Once you are in Tanzania, you are home in some way. It is hard to describe, but if you have been, you know what I am talking about. If you haven’t, we look forward to the day you join us on Safari!
Please enjoy some images and stories from the field over the next few days I will be sharing with you!

As much as I wanted to share this as we went, being in the middle of the Serengeti is not quite conducive to good internet! 

The Journey Begins 
After arriving at Kilimanjaro airport, and having a good night’s rest in Arusha, it was time to go on Safari! Each Safari we do is customized based on a number of factors including the season and area of where the “Great Migration” will be. Many people do not realize that the massive migration of Wildebeest and Zebra herds is ongoing and never stops. If you know the right season you can photograph the herds at any given time on safari.For our journey, we chose to start our Safari in Central Serengeti. Rather than drive-in, we choose to charter a flight that takes directly into the Serengeti where we are met with our guides and Land Rovers .
After landing at the airstrip, we immediately went out on safari looking to photograph any wildlife we encountered. It wasn’t more than maybe 10 minutes when one of our guests shrieked Hipppppppppppoooo! 

Photo Tip 

In an image such as this close-up of the Hippo, it is also very important to make sure you have a decent aperture/f stop setting in order to get a good depth of field.

Here, I increased my f-stop to f9 in order to make sure that the hippo was sharp all the way from the front to the back. A smaller stop could have resulted in the depth being more shallow and falling off toward the back of the head. 

Just 15-20 minutes later our first elephants came into view. 

A herd of these majestic creatures was all around us with many youngsters practicing their skills and playing. 

Photo Tip 

This image may look great to you. A moment was captured for sure. As a professional, I am always working to get the best images not only technically, but with emotion and storytelling. 

This image I am very happy I captured it, but unfortunately, it is not quite super sharp. What happened? 

While photographing these two, the light was getting darker and darker. We were at dusk. I was trying to keep my ISO from getting extremely high with having to use a high shutter speed to capture the action.

I decided to “fudge it” and try to keep my shutter speed down so my ISO was not so high. I shot this at 1/640th of a second. But in doing so, I lost some sharpness due to their movement as well as my own while holding a heavier long lens.  

The general rule is however long your lens is, double that for shutter speed if you are hand-holding to avoid camera shake. I had a 100-500mm lens on. So really I should have been at 1/1000th of a second as a minimum. 

I should not have sacrificed so much and would have been better with the higher ISO which means a little more “noise” but would have been a sharper image. 

Shot at 1/640th of a second and ISO 800 

I would have been better with a higher ISO which would have allowed me a faster shutter speed.  It is always a balancing act!

After a long first day, it was time to head to our Nyumba (Serengeti Luxury Camp) for a wonderful chef-prepared meal and a good night’s sleep for the next days coming. 

Photo Tip 

It is easy to only want to take close-ups of subjects. On safari, of course, you want close-up images of wildlife. 

However, do not forget the essential aspects of photography for story-telling. Leaving space and using the landscape to share the “story” is just as vital as a close-up. In this case, the lone elephant walking off into the sunset was the perfect end to our first day!