In our last blog post we talked about photographing the dramatic clouds of the rainy season from a distance, so that their immense scale becomes visible in the image.
Today we are going to do the opposite: we'll get REALLY close, (almost) right into the eye of the storm!
For one it is fantastic to SEE, HEAR, FEEL & SMELL a rain storm in the African savannah - the smell of rain is one of my favourite scents of Etosha - and it is truly magnificent to witness the power of nature at full force once again.
Secondly, this gives us the true perspective of how a wildebeest (photo above) or a group of springbok (photo below) experience a cloudburst.
Thirdly, this offers us a great opportunity for capturing truly special images.
Here are a few tips of how to photograph wildlife in a thunderstorm:
1. Drive Right into the Storm
To tell the story of a rain storm grab your photographic gear when you see a storm approaching & hit the road in the general direction of the dark sky.
Our Tip: If you're unsure about whether & where the rain's going to hit, ask the Etosha staff or local tour guides about their interpretation of the clouds. They usually have a very good idea about the likelyhood of rain.
2. Find the wildlife
As soon as you are in the storm and the rain pours down heavily look out for individual animals or herds of game that huddle in the rain. They do this to save energy & avoid cooling down too much. Stay at a distance & frame your image in such a way, that it shows the animal as part of the environment & in the midst of the dramatic downpour.
Our TIP: Check your shutter speed, as the light often becomes pretty low in the midst of a storm. If your shutter speed is very low you may have to increase your ISO to avoid blurred images.
3. Get the right angle
Experiment a bit with the angle you shoot towards the wildlife. Sometimes it's worth to drive 20 meters further or turn your car slightly to find the ONE position where the downpour looks most dramatic (photo above: greater flamingoes in the rain at Fisher's Pan, Etosha National Park, Namibia).
Our TIP: To avoid getting your gear wet don't place your camera in the open window as usual. Shoot from further inside the car, e.g. place your bean-bag on top of the back-rest of a car seat & photograph through the open window.
Please: Do NOT drive off the road, as the soil gets soaked quickly in the rain. Trust us, you do NOT want to get stuck out there...!
BONUS: Once the storm has subsided you may get lucky and observe the wet springbok or zebra gallop & jump across the plains. Although they probably do this mostly to get warm again, to us it always looks as if they jump for joy about the gift of rain ... who knows?
And ... if you are lucky, you might experience a magical sunset (see photo below) once the clouds begin to lift.
We hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please stay tuned for more photo tips on Namibia.
Talk to you soon.
All the best,
Claudia & Wynand du Plessis
Namibia wildlife & nature photgraphers