Travel Photography Masterclass: Wildlife at Waterholes


Professional wildlife photographer Villiers Steyn shares his top photography tips in our Travel Photography Masterclass


How to take photograph Wildlife at Waterholes

Go when it’s dry

Just because there’s water, doesn’t mean animals will come down to drink. During the rainy season (November to March in South Africa), wildlife often prefers to drink at natural pools of rain water hidden from view than man-made waterholes. You’re much more likely to see action around the water in late winter (July to October).

Timing is everything

Even in the dry season, many animals only start making their way to the water once it heats up. Animal traffic is usually at its best late in the afternoon (3pm and onwards).

Keep an eye on the sun

Make sure to visit a specific waterhole when the light is best (am vs pm). Ideally you should have the sun behind you, preferably at a bit of an angle to provide slight side-light.

Choose the right settings

I prefer to switch over to Aperture Priority where I can either choose low f-values to isolate drinking subjects when I zoom in, or higher f-values to make sure groups of animals are in focus when I zoom out for wider shots.

Be patient

Make yourself as comfortable as possible by packing enough drinks and snacks, as well as a good book. The longer you wait, the more you’ll see!

Villiers operates out of the small bushveld town of Hoedspruit in South Africa’s Limpopo Province and when he’s not teaching or photographing lodges and events, he leads photographic safaris for a company called At Close Quarters. Villiers also does private photographic guiding at lodges in the Greater Kruger National Park.




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