Travel Photography Inspiration Project: South Africa

Travel Photography Inspiration Project: South Africa


Three countries down and about 200 to go. It’s time to check out South Africa for today’s post in the Travel Photography Inspiration Project’s.

While this view of South Africa through the lenses of DPS readers does contain the expected wildlife found at the end of the continent, it will also highlight a mix of images you might not be expecting. From the beach to the interior, South Africa is country full of color and vibrance.

Join your fellow readers/photographers on this journey to South Africa.

And if you would like to be involved in the next country’s post, drop me a line here.


South African Roads by Arturo Lavin Gonzalez

Sunsets in South Africa are legendary. I got caught in a highway when the sun started to fade and the sky took some wonderful colors. I drove to the side of the road, took my tripod out and made this picture using a low aperture to get detail all the way down the road. I used a wide angle lens in this picture to emphasize the foreground and give the idea of a very long road ahead.

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Beach huts in St James by Craig Strachan

Cape Town has wonderful beaches, and in summer the beaches are full of people enjoying the sun and surf. These brightly coloured beach huts, which are found on both St James and Muizenberg beaches, provide a great photo opportunity. If you want to shoot the huts, try to get there in the morning when the sun lights them up, but before it gets too bright


Penguins by Julie H. Ferguson

This is a protected breeding colony in Simon’s Town; one of four in South Africa. The birds are unafraid and close, so photographers can get superb shots easily; I’d swear that some actually posed for me. You will also see nests with eggs and youngsters covered in brown fluff. The only penguins north of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean can be seen at Boulders Beach, south of Cape Town; here wild African Penguins hungry for pilchards head into the warm Indian Ocean.

Diamond Boats

Diamond Boats – Port Nolloth on the Western Cape coast by 24 Atlantic Photography

Most mornings on this coast have a lot of fog and mist in the west due to the cold Atlantic, but sometimes the sun rising in the east manages to get through this bank of cloud to shine onto the diamond boats laying at anchor in the bay of this quaint little town.  Quite far off the main routes but definitely worth a visit with its old buildings and diamond mining history.

Lions of Krueger NP

Untitled by Butch Mazzuca

Description: On an early morning game drive from the Tanda Tula Camp in South Africa we came across this pair of lions

Tip: I look for "symmetry" in animal movements.  In this image, both cats are walking in ‘lockstep’ which adds interest to to the photo.


South African Sunrise by Arturo Lavin Gonzalez

This picture was made during the sunrise at the Kruger National Park. I exposed for the sun and then underexposed the shot 3 stops to get only silhouettes on the foreground and have detail in the background.

You need to get out of the hotel early to get this kind of shoot, which should be no problem because all the safari vehicles depart early to the Kruger National Park due to the limited car allowance inside the park. I asked the driver to stop the vehicle and placed my camera on a Monopod outside the vehicle to avoid any shake in the camera when making this picture.

Table Mountain and Table Bay

Table Mountain, Cape Town, one of the most recognisable mountains in the world by Craig Strachan

To get this shot, I was strapped into the front seat of a helicopter with the door removed which gave me a clear view of the mountain. Because the helicopter was bouncing around a bit, I shot this at F7, 1/640 at ISO400, which was fast enough to get a sharp focus. There are a few helicopter charter companies offering trips around the Cape Peninsula, a must do if you come and visit.

Cape Town men(Ferguson)

Cape Town men by Julie H. Ferguson

Africans on their way to set up a market stall in the heart of Cape Town.

Spend at least three days here and rent a car to see Table Mountain, Cape Point, and the Winelands. South Africa is much cheaper to visit than North America and Europe. Heineken is $1.76 a bottle and we drank many – hey, it was hot!

Kgalagadi Dust

Kalahari Dust – the dry Nossob river bed in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Northern Cape by 24 Atlantic Photography

The Kgalagadi is one of the few "wild" parks left in the country which gives wonderful photographic opportunities in the extremely dry (and cold) winter months with all the dust in the air and sepia toned vegetation , as it does in the wet (and very hot) summer months with majestic  cloud formations, everything suddenly green and colorful.  Definitely a place where the rules of shooting early morning / late evening apply!

School boys in Capetown

Untitled by Butch Mazzuca

Description: We we walking along the waterfront in Cape Town when we ran across these young school boys on their way home from their classes.

Tip: Africa isn’t always about animals–people make very interesting photos.  These youngsters were only too happy to pose for my little "Coolpix" camera.


African Buffalo by Arturo Lavin Gonzalez

This image was made during a safari at the Kruger National Park in South Africa. I post-processed this photo in black and white because it let me get all the attention to the details  in the buffalo and get over some distracting colorful bushes at the background.

I used a 400mm lens to get this shot. Wildlife are not always close to the safari vehicle so you need to be prepared with long glass in case the driver can’t get any closer to the wildlife you want to photograph.

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Kite surfing on Muizenberg Beach by Craig Strachan

If you like water sports, you will love Cape Town. Kite-surfing has grown into a huge sport, and if the wind is blowing you will see the sails of the kites from far away. To get the surfer and the spray in focus, I increased the ISO to 200, and shot at F4, 1/1000 (200mm).

Aggresive Elephant(Ferguson)

Aggressive Elephant by Julie H. Ferguson

An aggressive elephant heads straight at me in Addo Elephant National Park, Eastern Cape.

Addo is not to be missed and visitors can self-drive in this hot, arid park. Elephant can’t be missed either—you’ll be so close, you’ll have to change your lens from a long to a shorter telephoto.

Akadis Pass

Akadis Pass – Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, Northern Cape by 24 Atlantic Photography

The Akadis (meaning lizard) Pass being one of the 4×4 routes in this beautiful park known for its rare botanical diversity and native Nama people. Not as bad as it looks (taken low down, wide angle) but visitors to this area can take guided tours to the park, particularly in August / September when the spring flowers transform the desert into a colorful wonderland. 

On our morning game drive we came across the big bull reaching for a branch  for breakfast.  I liked the unusual perspective of this shot.

I like this shot because of it's unusual perspective

Untilted by Butch Mazzuca

Description: On an early morning game drive from the Pafuri Camp in South Africa we came across this large adult bull pulling down a branch for breakfast.

Tip: I always try to capture animals doing something or positioning themselves in a way not normally seen.  In this particular image, the early morning light was perfect and I thought the perspective was unusual

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Fishing boats in Kalk Bay Harbour by Craig Strachan

Kalk Bay contains a traditional fishing harbour, where you can buy fresh fish straight off the boats when they come in after night’s fishing. Alternatively pop into on the restaurants in the harbour, where the fish is as fresh as you will ever get. They say that you should always have a camera with you, and this was one of those times where I was not planning on shooting, but the clouds looked so nice in the sunset, I had to stop and take a few shots.

Rhino line (Ferguson)

Rhino line by Julie H. Ferguson

Rhino line up for me in a pearly dawn high in the lush Hluhluwe-Umfolozi National Park, Kwa-Zulu.

Safari game drives run at dawn or dusk when the animals are more active. The light is poor and very variable, so I was always changing settings. There was no room in the Land Rover to use even a small tripod. With the vehicle bouncing and the animals moving, camera shake and motion blur was a significant challenge. I had my ISO up to 3200 early and late in the day and still had to use a shutter speed below 1/60 on occasion. A zoom is essential.

Tanda Tula, South Africa

Untitled by Butch Mazzuca

Description: We came upon this lone wide mouth or so called "White Rhino" moving from one mud hole to another

Tip: Use high speed continuous drive when photographing moving animals.  If you take 30 images at high speed, one of them is likely to convey "action or movement" as seen here with two of the rhino’s hooves off the ground.

If you would like to see your images highlighted, follow this link to the Travel Photography Inspiration Project’s for more info and other countries already covered.

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Peter West Carey leads photo tours and workshops in Nepal, Bhutan, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and beyond. He is also the creator of Photography Basics - A 43 Day Adventure & 40 Photography Experiments, web-based tutorials taking curious photographers on a fun ride through the basics of learning photography.

Some Older Comments

  • Craig Strachan April 15, 2012 04:43 pm

    Yes, South Africa is a wonderful country, and you will have a wonderful trip if you come out here. Highly recommended; not that I am a biased local or anything :-)

  • Sanjay shah April 14, 2012 10:42 pm

    Great photos of south Africa

  • Sanjay shah April 14, 2012 10:38 pm

    Vow ! Amazing catches of reality , this beautiful photos of south Africa are so inspiring that I have to plan my next trip to see the beauty of land , mountains , oceans , and wild life together at one place.

  • Jason Webber April 11, 2012 06:40 am

    What a beautiful country we live in!

  • Theo April 10, 2012 02:22 am

    Thanks fro showing our beautiful country. I am living in Fish Hoek, not far from the penguins - and love them. Always up for a shoot!

  • Andre Heldsinger April 8, 2012 05:04 pm

    Beautiful Photographs. What I however noticed that none contained any of Cape Point. This is definately a great place for photography . I am an amateur photographer and just love to take photo's there.

  • Steve April 7, 2012 02:33 am

    Hmm, my link didn't show....

  • Steve April 7, 2012 01:31 am

    Cool, I was recently in SA as well, it was an amazing place.

  • Dumblabrat April 6, 2012 07:56 pm

    Beautiful photographs!
    I am fortunate to live in that beautiful place called Cape Town - it is a photo opportunity every minute of the day and I never go anywhere without my camera for that reason. Thanks for showcasing SA!

  • marius2die4 April 6, 2012 03:00 pm

    Some birds from Europe

  • Anna April 6, 2012 03:13 am

    Loving the photos :) I just moved to South Africa and can't get enough of it! Certainly challenging my wildlife and landscape photography :)

  • Dave April 6, 2012 12:43 am

    I live in SA and have just been in the Kruger Park. There is nothing like being in the bush, especially when you are able to get out of your vehicle. Sure you get the feeling of "danger", but you just need to be careful. Don't take silly chances. I got out of my car to rescue a baby tortoise crossing the road (he was bound to get squashed) and only realized when I turned around that there was a herd of Elephants grazing on the other side of the road.

  • Dawid April 6, 2012 12:41 am

    I found the photo and comment:
    "Cape Town men by Julie H. Ferguson, Africans on their way to set up a market stall in the heart of Cape Town."
    Amusing - people in African are all Africans!
    She could have used a more apt description.

  • ccting April 5, 2012 09:34 am

    Wow.. great photos.. but I think you might risk your life for taking such photos, especially dangerous animals. Worth it??

  • Craig Strachan April 4, 2012 09:05 pm

    Thanks for posting my pics, great to see other perspectives of such an amazing country.

  • raghavendra April 4, 2012 12:42 pm

    whenever i hear africa i picture in my head elephants
    but you have shown some colorful pictures :)

    I have taken a few animal pictures

  • Melissa April 4, 2012 08:16 am

    All of them are artworks... Great work, my favorite is Kalahari Dust, light looks so amazing! Penguins are so cute, the mountain and the sunrise... just love them all!

  • Julie H. Ferguson April 4, 2012 04:16 am

    So thrilled to see my pix published here. Many thanks, Peter

  • steve slater April 4, 2012 04:02 am

    When I was last in SA I wanted to be a bit different and take some hdr shots of the animals.

    This is one of a Wildebeest (otherwise called a Gnu)

  • Steve April 4, 2012 03:33 am

    A wonderful country with some awesome scenery.

    I love the wildlife and most people want to see the 'big five' but there is plenty of other wildlife that is also really beautiful:

  • Natasha McEachron April 4, 2012 02:45 am

    Wow, this is a great collection of photos. I've always been amazed by the images shown on TV shows like Nature and in magazines like National Geographic. I could only imagine how much more awe inspiring it is to see these places and animals in person.

    I really like these travel photography inspiration posts and hope that there will be many more to come in the future.