Photo tips, tricks and my latest captures

Botswana 2012 Trip summery


Pied kingfisher, Chobe River.

Please read the earlier post that describes the preparation for the trip and the equipment list.


We had five in our group. Three were shooting nikon and two had canons. All cameras worked without problems.

I used 200-400 with a 1.4 TC 80% of the time. D3 and 70-200 was used 15%. 24-70 was used seldom for landscapes. I did not miss my 600VR. I really like the zoom feature of the 200-400.

I also enjoyed the nikon v1 with the 10-30 lens as a point and shoot camera. Obviously it was more than PS camera. V1 was attached to my long lens with the adaptor when my lens on the DSLR was not long enough. The quality of the images were quite good. When there was action I gave the V1 to my driver to video tape the scene.

All of the places had vehicles that were not ideal for the use of bean bags. We modified the vehicles by tying two poles to each side of the vehicle so we can place the bean bags over them. This worked great. The molar bags fitted the poles better than the kinesis bags. Julie used her puffin pad from the vehicle and she liked it. She never used her super clamps that she brought. I would recommend carrying bungee cords to secure the bean bags and the camera bags to prevent them from flying off the vehicles. Tripod was used few times for the sunset pictures.

Gura gear kibuku bag worked well. It carried all my gear both in the plane and the safari vehicle. In the safari vehicle I looped a bungee cord around the side handle and secured it to the seat. I wished it had a laptop compartment so I didn’t have to bring a separate laptop bag.

My fear about carrying heavy hand luggage in Air Botswana flight was unfounded. They never checked the weight of the hand luggage. It weighed twice the allowed weight.

iPad used for reading and I wrote this blog post using WordPress app. All the camera manuals were stored in the iPad for easy reference.

My hyperdrive storage device malfunctioned. It would only download part of the images from the Lexa 1000x card. I should have tested the combo before bringing on the trip. Also check your card reader to make sure it works with your cards. Bringing two card readers in case of failure. I used my laptop to make two copies of the images to the laptop hard drive and external passport drive. I shot nearly 250GB of images. This was partly due to large file sizes of D 800. I also brought enough CF cards in case my hard drive failed.

Wonpro Universal 5-Outlet Power Strip with Surge Protector  that I brought was very helpful. Many of the places we stayed had only few outlets and finding outlets to charge all the gear was a challenge. I also used Botswana to USA converter to plug in my power cord to theirs.

Weather was very pleasant and the cloud formations were gorgeous. We had few rain showers but not enough to interfere with the game drives. The prices were 40% cheaper compared to peak season in July-September. The game viewing was excellent but we had to work hard to find the animals due to availability of the water.

I did not use my rain coat at all. All the vehicles had garbage bags to protect the gear and good quality parkas for the guests. Mosquito repellent was never used.

It is not a bad idea to take some rehydration electrolytes in case you develop diarrhea.

One of the other members of the trip Rich had this to say.

·         Point and shoot camera is helpful, especially for grab shoots around camp

·         Took more pictures than I thought I would – especially with the camera set on high-speed in case action happened.  Important to be ready for action, so keep set on high-speed.

·         Feet for big lens is helpful on bean bags (see Wimberley Module 1 – M-1 / pair of these mounted on each end of QR plate will help the lens be more stable)

·         Small paper notebook or small recorder to get names correct. ( I used the voice recording function of D3 instead of a tape recorder.)

·         Did not use 16-35 but 24-105 was very handy.  Lens were 24-105, 70-300 and 500 with TCs.

·         Wimberley head was overkill – did not use it enough to justify weight.  Full sized ball head would have sufficed.

·         Limit clothing.  5 changes of tee shirts, socks, underwear is sufficient with 3 changes of pants and long sleeve shirts (2 might work but extra just in case)

·         Cap clip – hats are easily blown off in windy vehicles


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