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Old 06-19-2007, 07:03 PM   #1
MarkBarbieri
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How To Shoot: The Safari Ride

This is the second of a series of posts focused on how to shoot different shows, attractions, rides, and events at Disney Theme Parks. The purpose is to help people learn how to shoot those things with their camera and what they can reasonably expect from their camera. If it works as well as I hope, it can also be a way for people to see what they might get for spending more money and learning time on different cameras.

On this forum, we run the gamut from cell phone cameras to high end DSLRs with rediculously large lenses. I'm hoping that we'll get a variety of posts from people with cameras in all ranges. Even if you feel that your photos don't measure up to what others have posted, please post some samples anyway. We're all at different levels of gear and skill and we can all learn from each other. A typical S3 user will probably learn more from your S3 shot than they will from Oblio's latest masterpiece.


Other posts in the series include:
How To Shoot: Fireworks
How to Shoot: Parades
How to Shoot: Indoor Shows
How To Shoot: Cinderella's Castle
How To Shoot: SpectroMagic
How To Shoot: Dark Rides

This ride provides great photo opportunities of animals in very wild looking settings with no screens or fences to shoot through. It's also kind of fun because of the challenges it presents. I've never really been excited by the shots that I've taken on this ride, so take my advice with several grains of salt.

The biggest challenge comes from motion. The jeep is almost constantly bouncing you and your camera. The jeep is frequently driving, so you are moving relative to your subject. As you track a subject, you also have to worry about other people or supports suddenly moving into your field of view. The animals are also pretty far away.

I think it's best to shoot the safari when there is plenty of light. The quality of light might be better late in the evening, but there might not be enough of it. Having more light helps you with two things - faster shutter speed and more DOF.

Normally when I shoot animals, I go with a very wide aperture to minize the DOF. With the Safari ride, I find that you often have to shoot so quickly that you don't always get the accurate focus that you need for a really shallow DOF shot. On the other hand, you need to keep that shutter speed up. If you go with too narrow of an aperture, you'll have to wait until the ride stops to take your shots.

I like to use a really long lens for this ride so that I can zoom in tight on the animals. The problem with that is that it exasperates all of the problems with motion. If you're using a long lens for magnification, you are magnifying camera shake, subject motion, and ride motion.

I'm not really sure what to do about IS. When you are moving, IS systems can make shots worse than if it isn't on at all. If you have an IS system that has a panning mode, that's probably the safest way to shoot. If not, I'd probably turn it off.

If you are using a heavy DSLR, be careful about holding the viewfinder right up to your eye. Sudden jolts on the ride can give you a real smack in the eye. I know this one from experience.

If you can't get a high shutter speed for some reason, try to take shots during those brief moments when the ride is stopped.

In addition to animal shots, you can sometimes lean out and get good shots of your kids/spouse/friends sitting in the seat beside you.

These shots were on a dim, overcast day. I think I set the ISO to 1600 and left the camera in Program mode so that it could make a reasonable effort at balancing shutter speed an aperture.

ISO 1600, 170mm (x1.3), f/5.6, 1/320


ISO 1600, 98mm (x1.3), f/6.3, 1/250
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Last edited by MarkBarbieri; 06-24-2009 at 07:46 PM.
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Old 06-19-2007, 09:29 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkBarbieri View Post

I've never really been excited by the shots that I've taken on this ride, so take my advice with several grains of salt.

The biggest challenge comes from motion. The jeep is almost constantly bouncing you and your camera. The jeep is frequently driving, so you are moving relative to your subject. As you track a subject, you also have to worry about other people or supports suddenly moving into your field of view. The animals are also pretty far away.
This is exactly my thoughts coming away from the experience. Great "ride" but things are fast paced and you are never sitting in the best seat of the shot you think might work (at least I never have).

Totally agree with keeping the shutter speed high as possible. I tried to zoom in and with the truck movement things went badly as far as the framing goes. If you zoom out a bit, then crop the results might be more pleasing.

In our experience, early mornings the animals are more active than in the heat of the day.

Here a couple of my less than exemplary results:
1/250, f/5.6 at 200.0 mm


1/320, f/4.2 at 36.0 mm

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Old 06-20-2007, 12:59 AM   #3
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Manage your expectations

My experience is similar to others in that I've never been especially pleased with the results of my efforts. In the case of taking photographs while on the Kilimanjaro Safari ride, I think it is important to manage your expectations. To be blunt, I mean lower them.

That said, in addition to the excellent tips mentioned beforehand, I would add to not even try to get close shots or creatively framed scenes. There's too much going against you. Instead, shoot wide and then crop the photos with software when you get home. Take lots and lots of frames. You cannot wait for the possibility that the animal might turn its head for a more pleasing shot. Take the shot now, and if it turns its head, take that too. Cull the photos later when you get home.



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Old 06-20-2007, 07:12 AM   #4
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I must agree about the motion. It does make for some tough shots. These were taken with the Rebel XT and a 70-300 lens. The lion was later cropped.





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Old 06-20-2007, 07:16 AM   #5
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Quote:
The lion was later cropped.
Boy, I'll say. He appears to have been cropped out entirely.
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Old 06-20-2007, 07:36 AM   #6
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This is by far the best photo that I have taken at Animal Kingdom. I had a slight advantage though,,,,it was during the early morning tour when the animals were all awake and the vehicle would stop for photos...
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Old 06-20-2007, 08:08 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkBarbieri View Post
Boy, I'll say. He appears to have been cropped out entirely.

Hey, what can I say. It's early. Can't tell you what I was thinking on that one.



Ah, thats better.
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Old 06-20-2007, 08:11 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkrider View Post
This is by far the best photo that I have taken at Animal Kingdom. I had a slight advantage though,,,,it was during the early morning tour when the animals were all awake and the vehicle would stop for photos...
Without a doubt!! Great shot!!






except that date stamp on the bottom...........
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Old 06-20-2007, 08:55 AM   #9
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I have a Nikon D50 with the 18-200 VR lens. You need to set the VR correctly or you'll get lousy pictures. As mentioned earlier, set your camera settings before you start, shoot wider, and shoot often. I've had pretty good success early in the morning (first or second truck).

The best advice I will give is to sit in the back row with only 1 or 2 people. I sat in the last row with my just my wife. It gives you more room to shoot from the side, and more importantly, turn around and shoot to the rear.
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Old 06-20-2007, 09:24 AM   #10
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I agree that where you sit is important. My first experience on this ride, I was sitting on the left side of the vehicle and was able to get some pretty good photos. The next time, I was sitting on the right side and was not able to get very many photos at all. Most of them had someone's head, or a rail from the vehicle in them.

Nikon's VR has an active mode which I assume is the same as panning mode and it works pretty good. However, it isn't a miracle worker and some of the photos are simply going to be blurred from the bouncing around in the vehicle.
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Old 06-20-2007, 08:08 PM   #11
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Quote:
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This is by far the best photo that I have taken at Animal Kingdom. I had a slight advantage though,,,,it was during the early morning tour when the animals were all awake and the vehicle would stop for photos...
It is still a fabulous shot. Beautiful light. I was in the exact same tour, and for us we were privileged to see one of the lionesses take an interest in us. I fired away like a madman, and made the mistake of trying to frame too tightly. Afterwards, I wished that I had zoomed out wider, since many shots had the feet or ears cut off. I had the 100-400mm telephoto zoom. Anyway, this is a severe crop of the best frame. I was never able to get the noise-reduction software (Neat-Image) to improve the high-ISO noise on the fur without making it look fake, and I am reasonably familiar with the program -- so, excuse the noise. Since it was early morning, there was no real sun yet, and I cranked up the ISO to allow for better shutter-speeds.

BTW, have you considered cropping your shot as a portrait? It might be a more powerful presentation with more grass and sky and less brush.

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Old 06-21-2007, 06:10 AM   #12
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Here are some I took in Oct 06. I can't remember where I was sitting when I took them. They were taken around 3:30 - 4:00. I had the camera set to Aperture Priority

f/4 1/250 sec @ 40mm ISO - 100


f/4.1 1/400 sec @ 92mm ISO - 100


f/4 1/640sec @ 48mm iso-100
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Old 06-24-2007, 02:33 PM   #13
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Try to take one of the additional safaris offered if you want really good shots. We're just back from our trip - did the Sunrise Safari (must be staying at the AKL Concierge to do that one) followed by the Wildlife Discovery Excursion. I will post some shots from both when I get time.

As others have said, setting your camera in advance is a good idea. A good deal of the ride is in the shade so an ISO of 400 is reasonable. This is probably a good time to use shutter priority too since you want to make sure you have a reasonable shutter speed. Also, I recommend not zooming in too much. Also, take advantage of those times when the animals block the road. While we were on the Excursion (you follow the ride route mostly but veer off and park places to have time to photograph), there were several times the ride vehicles were stopped for animals in the path. Probably happens most in the am, as the animals are leaving their barns; and then later in the day, when they are heading back.
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Old 07-23-2008, 06:44 AM   #14
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We rode the safari this past weekend, and I only got a few usable shots, as always. While I really appreciate Disney's attention to detail, I think the one place I could have done with a little less of it is on this ride -- specifically, the roadbed they created. I'll bet this ride is one of the most photo-centric on property for lots of people, even those who normally aren't aiming a camera everywhere. The rough road may give a more authentic experience, but I'd pass on some of the realism to get better photos. There were many points at which all the high ISO, fast shutter speeds and wide apertures in the world would have been for naught, as I couldn't even keep a subject in the viewfinder for all the bouncing around. I felt like I was on Primeval Whirl -- except that I've gotten better photos on that!

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Old 07-23-2008, 08:48 AM   #15
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Like everyone, I have tried to get decent shots on this ride more then once..the best seat I have found is in the back row - left side..most folks crowd to the front rows..the problem getting in the back row of course is the Disney CM..who balances the load..the best you can do is show them the camera and ask them for the back row...you might have to wait for a another jeep to come around...I hate shooting in the mid day..usually the animals are at rest, but at least then you can keep the ISO high and aperture at a decent level for DOF...

We are going to try the Sunrise Safari ( we are staying at AK in December - CC level) and I will post my findings then...from what I understand the CM drivers go slower, stop for photos - and of course being early in the morning the animals are active...that is both good and bad..now you have to have a decent shutter speed..
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