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Wildlife Close-Up Pictures

The images here show some of Africa's better-known wildlife species from close range, highlighting the rich diversity of colours and textures one sees while on safari.

To capture close-up pictures of wildlife - similar to the view you get through a good pair of binoculars - you'll need a camera with powerful telephoto lens, usually 300mm or more.

With larger animals like giraffe and elephant, you can get by with something like a 70-210mm zoom on your camera, particularly when photographing from a safari vehicle.

Click on picture to enlarge, use back button to return here.

Picture of leopard's spots Picture of giraffe hide Picture of zebra stripes
Picture of rhino hide buffalo boss close-up Picture of elephant trunk
wildlife reference photos
elephant trunk close-up lion paw and tongue Giraffe close-up
Picture of elephant hide Picture of elephant's head Picture of lion's nose and mouth

Digital Cameras
Many current digital SLR (Single Lens Reflex) cameras have a built-in magnification or "crop factor", usually around 50% to 60%.

So on a Canon 600D for example, your 300mm lens gives you similar magnification as would a 480mm lens on a 35mm film camera, while a 400mm lens is like using a 640mm.

Brings Subject Closer
This is a huge bonus for wildlife photography as it brings your subject that much closer. The picture of the lion licking its paw (Row 3 middle pic) was not taken in a zoo, but from a game drive vehicle in Botswana with the equivalent of a 640mm lens.

Although it is a crop of a bigger picture, this is the detail one can get with today's digital cameras.

Of course the downside with this degree of magnification is image blur from camera shake.

To counteract this, it's advisable to push up your ISO rating and use as fast a shutter speed as possible, combined with a solid tripod, or good beanbag if shooting from a vehicle.

Mutual Respect Is Advisable
Animals in game parks become accustomed to vehicles and it's tempting, when on safari, to approach ever closer.

It's worth remembering however that these are still "wild" animals and their space should be respected.

An elephant or rhino, if suddenly spooked or irritated by your presence, will reach a stationery vehicle in seconds.

Better to keep a safe distance and enjoy the sighting through binoculars.

Captions to Close-ups

Row 1:
1.Detail of leopard's coat showing spots in rosette pattern
2.Detail of giraffe's hide showing patchwork coloring
3.Close-up of zebra group, showing stripe patterns

Row 2:
1.Detail of a rhino's hide, showing folds of thick skin
2.Close-up of buffalo bull's horns showing the "boss"
3.Close-up of elephant's trunk pulling leaves from thorn tree

Row 3:
1.Close-up of elephant's trunk plucking leaves and thorns
2.Close-up showing lion licking its paw
3.Detail of giraffe's face showing mouth and nostrils

Row 4:
1.Detail of elephant's hide
2.Close-up of elephant's head
3.Close-up of male lion, showing mouth and lower teeth

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