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Your Timeless Journey Awaits...

It is almost time to depart on your African safari! As the excitement builds, let’s ensure your experiences become incredible, shareable moments and important keepsakes of your travels. Your phone can be a great travel tool and a wonderful way to connect to inspiration and the world at large.

Get the best out of your phone

Discover our photography tips in the articles below, which we have created on how to get the best out of your phone camera. With the right preparation and advice, you can take really great pictures that are worth sharing while you travel.

We would love to see (and repost) your creativity and new experiences, we invite you to follow us on social media and tag us in your photos & comments while you travel with us.

We look forward to seeing your experiences,

The Timeless Africa Safaris team

1. Travel Photography: How to take great vacation photos with your phone
  • Wait for the right moment
  • Always photograph at the highest quality (“Selfie” mode is usually the lowest quality option)
  • Shoot in the brightest conditions possible
  • Think about light, shadow, and shapes in the image
  • Focus on objects closer to the camera and allow the background to blur
  • Lower angles make people/animals look statuesque and grand
  • When shooting panoramic shots, do this in a portrait angle using the “pano” function, starting from the lightest point to the darkest (Timeless Tip: turn the phone upside down if it does not allow you to change direction)
  • Avoid “pinching” (zoom), as the quality is usually not that great (Timeless Tip: rather crop the image afterward)
  • Mobile devices now support lens attachments, which enhance photos. When purchasing attachments, check for the best quality. Glass is preferred
  • Always try to show a unique view
Timeless Tip

Be present in the moment; don’t miss the action because you’re obsessing about the shot

Phone photography in detail

Shoot when the light is right:

  • The best, pics are taken in the “golden hours” just after dawn and just before dusk
  • Overcast days provide soft, even lighting.
  • Just after a light rain is the best time to shoot dynamic landscapes
  • Use flash as a last resort, except if you’re shooting into the sun with your subject in the foreground, try using flash to illuminate your subject and prevent silhouetting


Tell the whole story:

  • Every place and every trip are unique
  • Capture your personal safari story, including aspects like your room and view, the environment and all the exceptional little details
  • Place yourself in the shot – your friends and followers like to see you
  • Go beyond the animal mug shot, show wildlife in their habitat and surroundings
  • Capture sunrises/ sunsets, landscapes, trees, insects, activities and guides


Apply the rule of thirds:

  • Imagine dividing your photo 3 lines across and 3 lines down (Timeless Tip: you can activate a grid on your smartphone to help you see it, if you like)
  • Position key elements along the gridlines or at the intersections
  • Place the horizon along the top or bottom third for a strong compositional mobile photo
  • This is used to balance an image
  • It creates space for the subject to look at or move into


Frame your main subject:

  • Use structural, environmental or architectural elements to bring focus to a subject
  • Think of trees, the landscape, the sky, and other animals as potential frames


Other tips:

  • Go wide and shoot panoramas of big vistas
  • Skew photos can be edited in apps, aiming to get the horizon line straight
  • Pick what to focus on by tapping it on the screen
  • Use a tripod at night for sharp photos

Timeless warning: phone photography can be very addictive when you get it right!

2. Tips for taking photos on wildlife

As a subject, wildlife is challenging to capture in images because it is elusive and often moving, partially hidden or far away. It’s really important to sometimes put the phone down and just enjoy the experience. To get the best pic, be patient and experiment.

Take lots of shots, as you can edit them later.

Here are some tips to overcome the biggest challenges in wildlife photography:

Subject too small?

  • Get physically closer if possible (always keep safety in mind and ask your guide)
  • Wait for the animal to move or change position
  • Remember zoom makes the image quality poorer – rather crop later
  • Add a lens accessory
  • It is rare to get close to wildlife, so consider alternatives, like showing the environment to tell a story


Image out of focus?

  • Select the autofocus (AF) point yourself. Generally, you only need to tap on the screen but familiarise yourself with your particular phone beforehand
  • Select a focal point on the subject’s head


Blurry Shots?

  • Ask the guide to turn off the safari vehicle engine to minimise vibration
  • Use a tripod or monopod to keep the camera steady (Timeless Tip: The side of the vehicle works really well. If on foot, look for a tree or rock that can keep you steady)
  • Avoid shooting when the subject is moving
  • Take a burst of action shots so you can choose the one you want


Low Light?

  • Take a silhouette
  • Look for animals or trees with light behind them
  • Shoot toward the sun
  • Try shooting from low down and point upwards to separate the subject from the horizon
Timeless tip

Be present in the moment; don’t miss the action because you’re obsessing about the shot

3. Smartphone camera settings and photo editing

You’d be amazed at what your smartphone camera can do. We suggest you play around with options like scene modes, panorama and HDR before you get here to learn what it is capable of and so you can take the best shots.

Phone camera 101:

  • Be sure the lens is clean
  • Tap your finger on the screen where you want to focus, activating a yellow square
  • Quick lighten and darken photos by putting your finger on the phone and then dragging up or down
  • Keep steady, lean against something for sharper focus (Timeless Tip: tuck your elbows in to stabilize your arms)
  • Keep level and watch the horizon
  • Photograph horizontally for wider views, and vertically for tall trees, giraffes, and headshots
  • On many phones, the volume buttons can be used to take the picture


Tips to make your phone battery last:

  • Adjust screen brightness as needed
  • Keep your phone on flight mode (and only use one app at a time)
  • While on safari, use only as a camera and not as a means to connect
  • Get an external charger (power bank) and keep it charged


Tips to make your storage last:

  • Back up images and delete old photos before your trip (videos take up the most space)
  • Go through and delete unwanted shots regularly
  • Be conscious of what you shoot and what you save


Beyond Smartphone auto mode:

  • Although different phones have different settings, most should be able to let you control the focus, exposure, white balance and ISO
  • The higher the resolution, the better the quality of the photo


Editing images:

  • Use a free app like Snapseed, VSCO Cam or Afterlight. Or purchase ProCamera or Camera+:
  • Play with shutter speed, ISO etc.
  • Adjust automatic settings in the app
  • Apply filters that suit your aesthetic
Timeless tip

Subtlety is key, aim to create the impression that you haven’t adjusted anything at all

4. Top tips for maximising likes on your social media posts
  • It takes thought to get others to think your images are great
  • Show the world from your point-of-view
  • Do not imitate others, be unique
  • Remember there is no right or wrong about what you’re capturing
  • Consider what you are saying/ the story you are telling
  • Don’t over-edit
  • Cut long photo sections (like panoramas) and post them as a carousel
  • Write interesting captions
  • Set place and time stamps on your images, and let audiences know the exciting places you are exploring
  • Link to other platforms and use hashtags. Our hashtag is #TimelessAfricaSafaris
Timeless tip

Share wisely, be a keeper and not a purger

In this article
  • Get the best out of your phone
  • 1. Take Great Holiday Photos on the Go
  • 2. How to Photograph Wildlife with your Phone
  • 3. Smartphone Camera Settings and Photo Editing
  • 4. Top Tips for Maximising likes on your Social Media Posts
  • 5. Photos of Africa Taken on a Smartphone

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