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Photographing Your Room

Room Interior at Abu Camp - Luxury Okavango Delta Safaris


One of the pleasant surprises of safari is the luxurious accommodation at southern Africa's safari camps and lodges, and it can be fun to include some camp/lodge photos in your "trip album", to show family and friends how you were pampered in the wilderness of Africa. The confined space and low light / high contrast conditions inside rooms, however, pose some photographic challenges.



The Limitations of Your Safari DSLR Camera

Brochure images of interiors are taken by professional photographers using sophisticated lighting systems, tripods, and full-frame (or even medium format) cameras with wide angle lenses. Most of this equipment is of little use on safari, so it's unlikely to be in your camera bag. There's no harm trying to take photos with your safari DSLR, particularly if you have a wide angle lens, high ISO settings, and in-camera HDR (High Dynamic Range) functionality, but there's another solution that may be even easier ...


Enter the Smart Phone

Luxury Kruger Park Safaris - Accomodation at Rattray's Camp

 Smart phones have fast (around f/2.4), wide angle lenses, they're small, easy to hold and use, and utilize some handy apps. As we visit and evaluate properties across southern Africa, we use an iPhone to record camp details for future reference, and have come away with some surprisingly pleasing images. Our favorite app is TruHDR, which blends three images taken at different exposures, and does an excellent job of taming the contrast between deep shadows and bright light. Some of the techniques that we use for photographing rooms include:


Jao Camp in the Okavango Delta - Luxury Botswana Safaris


Turn on all the lights and open all shades to let in natural light.

Stand in corners or take photos through open doors so that the image can cover as much of the room as possible.

Think like a landscape photographer, and try to include elements of interest in the foreground, midground, and background.



Luxury Beach Vacations - Benguerra Lodge Views


Eliminate clutter - this includes making sure that your bags and belongings aren't in the frame (we spend 5-10 minutes photographing a room on arrival, before unpacking and disturbing the beautifully made-up room).

Stand on chairs (carefully), or sit on the floor, to get unique perspectives.




Luxury Okavango Delta Safaris - Abu Camp View


Using HDR, try inside-to-out shots showing the interior of your room, and the beautiful view that it overlooks (these are tough shots, and even HDR sometimes can't overcome the enormous difference in contrast).

Don't forget the small details - the personalized flower arrangement on your bed, candle-lit bathtub, beautifully carved wooden door, etc. are all part of the magic of "bush luxury".



Your room shots are unlikely to be the centerpiece of your safari album, but they're a fun part of the narrative of your overall experience and, with a little forethought, are very easy to capture.

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