Safari/Lodging Questions for Sept. Safari

Apr 14th, 2003, 07:47 AM
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Comments on camera/ film.

One disadvantage of 28-300 range lenses is that most don't come with wide apertures - I think the max is usually f6.3 on a 28-300 when being used at the 300mm end of the range.

This becomes relevant when taking photos during the hours just before and after sunrise and sunset when light is very limited.

Without wide apertures it's hard to get an exposure that doesn't involve a shutter speed which is just too slow to hand-hold without shake.

This is a problem I experienced with my Sigma 28-135mm lens which has a maximum aperture of 3.8 but only 5.6 when at the zoom end of it's range.

That said, I found that _most_ of the pictures I took using 400 speed film were fine, a number of the low-light ones taken on 200 speed film were blurry.

If you're sticking to 400 speed film I guess you'll probably be OK on that.

Don't forget though that the 28-300mm lenses are a little heavy and can pull awkwardly on the newer light-weight camera bodies.

You probably have all this covered and I hope this post isn't patronising - I don't know your level of knowledge.

Re black and white film - I love black and white photography and am currently focusing on it a lot - BUT don't forget that if you take colour films and have them scanned and copied onto a CD for you when you're getting them printed, those digital copies can very easily be desaturated in a package such as photoshop, giving you the black and white versions too. This is dependent on a) getting good high res scans made and b) having access to a PC with photo processing software on it.

Kavey is offline  
Apr 14th, 2003, 08:43 AM
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We took 200, 400 and 800 speed film, and I must say the 400 pictures turned out the best.

As for clothing, bring as little as possible. Most of the camps offer laundry service, so there is no need to bring a lot. I found that some of the camps while offering laundry service will not do women's underclothing, so perhaps a small baggie of laundry detergent in case you need to do it yourself.

Instead of bringing long pants and shorts, invest in a couple of pairs of pants with zip-off legs.

We found that portable hand toweletes were an invaluable item, especially for picnic breakfasts and lunches.

I would also bring lots of plastic bags to protect your camera equipment, film, etc. from dust. Even if you have a nice camera bag, dust just seems to find its way everywhere.

I would leave tomorrow for Africa if I could ... to heck with what is going on in Iraq. In fact, I would feel safer out in the bush than on U.S. soil!
SusanLynne is offline  
Apr 15th, 2003, 12:16 AM
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Regarding cameras, I would say that 400 speed film would be your best all-round choice, but I am sceptical of the choice of a 28-300mm lens for much the same reasons as given by Kavey in the above reply. I know it is tempting to have one lens that you can leave on your camera all the time, but you will pay heavily in other ways for this convenience.

Most of your best sightings will be early morning and late afternoon when light is poor, and you need as much aperture as you can get. With anything less than f4.5 under these conditions, you need to use a slow shutter speed and will suffer lens blur with your zoom at the telephoto settings. Even with a tripod, clamp, or beanbag there will be some lens movement from other passengers shifting around in the vehicle, and from the engine if the driver doesn't turn it off.

My solution is to use a fixed 300mm lens on my main body, and have a good quality point & shoot camera for the closer shots. You may not care to do that, so recommend you choose a 100-300mm zoom with as wide an aperture as you can afford. Take along a shorter lens for the close-up shots, and practice switching between them before your trip.
Heimdall is online now  
Apr 15th, 2003, 12:39 AM
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I took with me a 28-135mm and a 100-300mm and didn't realise the importance of wider aperture until there.

At most places I used the 100-300 more. At Mombo the animals were so close I mostly used the wider lens.

I am looking into lenses with wider apertures for my next trip.

400 film did mean that most times, even with my 100-300 I was OK, except in the darkest times.
Kavey is offline  
Apr 16th, 2003, 04:01 AM
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Thank you everyone so much! Your comments on photography are invaluable. I have only had my SLR camera for a few months, so I have yet to figure out all the manual options; most (okay all) of the pictures I have taken thus far have used the automatic function (my camera offers both). I highly doubt that I will feel comfortable enough with my equipment (before we leave) to be able to use the manual more than the automatic. With that said, I also don't know much about the aperture. It seems you all are talking 'greek' to me. If I use the auto function, can I still control the aperture? Is it possible to find a lens (28-300 or 100-300) that has a good/wide aperture? I don't mind spending money on something when I know it is worth it!
I am almost quite terrible at changing the lenses as I am always afraid I will damage the camera.
Regarding film speed, I think that we will mostly use 400 speed film, because it is the least picky and most forgiving speed. I am afraid that if we used two different speeds, the roll would not be completed when the light situation changes (I hope that made sense). I really like the look of b&w pictues; I do have access to a computer with photo capibilities and I will have to keep that in mind as our trip drawes nearer.
On the clothes issue: where do I find zip off pants for men and/or women? According to 2Arika's website, it will be in the 80's when we go in Sept. I am thinking I will have several khaki pants and khaki shorts underneath. I think this will work if I can't find zip-off pants. If we will be there for two weeks, how many pairs of pants and shorts do you all recommend?
Thanks again!!!! You all on this board are wonderful. I have been reading your posts for sometime on this Africa forum and I really enjoy all that you share.
KristyRyan is offline  
Apr 16th, 2003, 05:42 AM
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Inside a camera lens is a mechanism called a diaphragm, consisting of a set of curved blades. The blades form a rounded hole called the aperture. This is like the pupil in your eye, which expands or contracts when the light changes. So too can the aperture expand or contract at your command.

This is done to vary the amount of light that gets through the lens and onto your film.

The other way of varying the amount of light that hits your film is shutter speed - a 1/30th of a second exposure obviously lets in a lot more light than a 1/400th of a second exposure.

Together, the combination of shutter speed and aperture control your exposure.

As any given film type requires a certain amount of light to accurately record the scene the actual aperture and shutter speed settings used vary hugely depending on the ambient or man-made light of the scene being photographed.

When using the camera in fully automatic mode the exposure needed is calculated by the on-board light meter and the camera selects an appropriate combination of aperture and shutter speed. You can also use it in manual or priority modes to select these yourself.

For example, let's say my camera suggests an aperture of f11 and a shutter speed of 1/125th of a second.

I can change it manually to half the aperture and double the shutter speed the overall exposure will be the same - but there will be a difference in my finished photograph.

What you need to know is:
Kavey is offline  
Apr 16th, 2003, 05:42 AM
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High shutter speeds will freeze motion - using these tends to mean you have to go for wider apertures (f2.8, f4) to let in more light.

Slower shutter speeds will allow you to capture motion – popular when photographing waterfalls for example – you’d need a narrow aperture (f22 etc), to compensate.

Wider apertures result in shallow depth of field – see below for DOF explanation – great when you want, say, an animal in sharp focus, but the grasses and bushes in front of and behind it out of focus.

Narrow apertures result in greater depth of field – where more of the picture from front to back is in focus.

Using that information you can make the decisions you need.

Most modern SLRs have 4 modes – fully manual, fully automatic and then Aperture priority and Shutter priority. Aperture priority means you select an aperture and the camera works out, using the light meter, what shutter speed it needs to use in order to expose correctly. It will alert you when you’ve selected an aperture which it simply can’t use because there is just too much or too little light. Make sure to be aware of what shutter speed it selects if you use this – a speed of slower than 1/30th cannot easily be hand held without camera shake.

So what is DOF?
Kavey is offline  
Apr 16th, 2003, 05:42 AM
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A lens can only bring objects at a single distance from the camera into critically sharp focus (at a time). But if you look at photographs, you can see a considerable area of the scene (from near to far) that appears sharp. Even though theoretically only one narrow plane is critically sharp, other parts of the scene in front of and behind that plane appear acceptably sharp to the human eye. Objects become less and less sharp the farther they are from the plane of critical focus. Eventually they become so out of focus that they no longer appear sharp at all. The area in which everything looks sharp is called the depth of field. Where this is only a small area infront of and behind the focal plane it is said that the depth of field is shallow. Where this area is larger it is said that the depth of field is deep/ great.

Hope this helps…


(PS I’m an IT Trainer – explaining stuff is what I do for a living – admittedly I teach IT but the communication/ breaking things down is the same!)
Kavey is offline  
Apr 16th, 2003, 06:15 AM
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You can buy pants with zip-off legging at any sports/hiking store. I don't know where you are located, but in the northeast Mountain Sports stores. You can check on line at L.L. Bean (very expensive, however)and the Kittery Trading Post. I also think that Lands End may have some. Do a search on the web for "travel attire." I have seen some pairs at discount stores like T.J. Maxx and Marshall's, but I am not sure if those are in your areas. Honestly, they were the best investment we made.
SusanLynne is offline  
Apr 16th, 2003, 06:23 AM
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Hi, Susan here again.

Check out the following websites:
(They are having a sale on Columbia brand convertible pants, which is what we got and I swear by them. Washed beautifully.) (expensive) (sometimes good deals)

At least these may give you something to start with.
SusanLynne is offline  
Apr 16th, 2003, 06:25 AM
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One last thing ... we went for just over two weeks and brought three pairs of zip-off legging pants each.
SusanLynne is offline  
Apr 16th, 2003, 06:59 AM
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In looking through the posts, I didn't see anyone talk about binoculars. These are absolutely necessary even if you have a great camera. They are usually light (I have minis) and you can have them with you at all times. Also when you are on safari only one of you will have the camera - the other will use the binoculars.

Also I bought a pair of "Kenya convertible" cotton pants from TravelSmith. They weren't cheap monetarily but they were a lifesaver. I am doing the 9-days Snow tour from 2Afrika in June (my 4th safari) and I will be buying two more pairs of the convertible pants.

Also, I read up on what immunizations were required and went to my city's health department where I got the shots cheaper than my doctor could provide.

But be careful though...this may start a life-long love affair with the African continent! I sure am hooked!
one2travel is offline  
Apr 16th, 2003, 12:31 PM
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One2travel is absolutely right about the binoculars. Make sure you and your fiance each have a pair. We saw a couple of people trying to share binoculars at one place, and we were grateful that we each had our own.
SusanLynne is offline  
Apr 16th, 2003, 09:20 PM
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Could you email me at [email protected] for some detailed travel clothing questions? Thanks.
Clematis is offline  
Apr 17th, 2003, 04:01 AM
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Kavey gave a very detailed explanation of aperture, but if you are a beginner, maybe that went over your head too.

Aperture simply means hole or opening, and in photography it is the opening in the lens which lets the light through. Aperture is shown on a ring on the lens body, and maybe in the viewer, as a number, eg 1.4, 2.8, 4.5, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, etc. These are also called f stops, hence f4.5. Confusingly, the larger the number, the smaller the opening, so a 5.6 opening allows less light into the camera than a 4.5 aperture.

Telephoto lenses usually have smaller apertures than shorter lenses, and zoom telephoto lenses allow the least light through to the film when extended to the full telephoto setting. The less light through the aperture, the longer you have to leave the shutter open to get the picture. For example, if your aperture is set at f4.5, you might be able to take a picture at 1/250 sec, but at f5.6 you would have to slow the shutter down to 1/125 to get the same picture. The problem with this is that at the slower shutter speeds any slight movement of the lens will result in a blurred shot.

If you use the automatic settings on your camera, everything I said above still applies. The camera simply does the calculations for you.

As for buying a lens, those with wide apertures can get very expensive. Anything wider than f4.5 (say f3.5 or f2.8) in a 300mm size zoom lens may be beyond your budget. You can save money by going to a good camera shop and looking for a second-hand lens.
Heimdall is online now  
Apr 17th, 2003, 07:11 AM
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Heimdall, it might have been long but it's not so involved as to be difficult to understand, I think!

Kavey is offline  
Apr 17th, 2003, 02:02 PM
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Karvey gave the best explanation I have ever read on this aspect of photography. Question to karvey - are you a professional photographer?
Harold is offline  
Apr 17th, 2003, 11:39 PM
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Kavey, I certainly didn't mean to criticize your eloquent explanation, but merely to offer an alternative in simpler terms.

Last November I accompanied a team of IT experts to Africa to set up computer systems in the Eglise Episcopale au Rwanda. My role was teaching basic computer skills to beginners. I am not an IT professional, but have experience teaching children, explaining technical subjects in easy to understand terms.

Sometimes we answer a question with more information than the asker really wanted to know. Then the explanation they were looking for gets lost in all the detail. Kristy, if I was talking down to you, I apologize.
Heimdall is online now  
Apr 18th, 2003, 04:00 AM
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No - a definite amateur - but I _am_ a professional trainer - what I do for a living is to understand something and then look at new ways of describing it in the simplest terms - but without losing detail.
I hope it's helpful.
Heimdall - not offended - just felt that, although my description was long, it was set out very clearly so should hopefully not have been overwhelming.
Kristy, one can get wide aperture lenses but they tend to be very expensive and are purchased mainly by real professionals.
If you stick to 400 speed film I think you'll be fine with a regular "prosumer" lens - this word is used to describe a high quality lens that is nonetheless aimed at the non-professional consumer market.
Kavey is offline  
Apr 18th, 2003, 04:00 AM
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PS Heimdall - that trip last year sounds an incredible experience. What was it like?
Kavey is offline  

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