Vumbura Plains, Botswana

A Beginner’s Guide to Photography with Olympus Explorer Brooke Bartleson



Megon Venter


One of our Africa in Focus judges and Olympus ambassador, Brooke Bartleson, embarked on her first ever safari this year. On her journey she also connected with our expert guides who are becoming experienced with the spectacular Olympus cameras, which we offer complimentary use of at selected camps.

Our partner Olympus has allowed our guides to experiment with their cameras in order to give guests the ultimate photo safari experience. Now, with Brooke’s tutelage, these guides have learned even more about the photography basics and what makes for an original photograph, helping them do the same for you.

Olympus Orientation

Being familiar with your camera is probably the best place to start with photography. It may sound obvious, but removing the lens cap is the first step, allowing you to be ready for the action when it happens. The other things to look for on your camera is the view finder, the mode dial and the thumb dial. These will allow you to see your subject clearly, move between modes and change settings within these modes.

The Rule of Thirds

Photography uses some of the same principles as art when it comes to ratios and composition. Composing your image well will allow you to tell a story; for example, a lion gazing intensely at a herd of impala in the distance can be conveyed well by focusing on the eyes of the lion while giving some breathing room on one side of the image for the viewer to imagine what he may be looking at.

A clever way to do this is through the rule of thirds. Think of it as dividing your rectangular frame into imaginary thirds and placing the subject on one of those intersecting gridlines on the left or right/top or bottom of the frame. This creates a balanced feeling in the photograph and gives some context to the subject you have captured.

Manual and Autofocus

According to Brooke, even professional photographers make use of autofocus, so relying on this is not something to be too concerned about. Manual focus is sometimes necessary if your focus needs to be adjusted beyond what the camera does automatically; but when you’re on safari or anywhere capturing wildlife, autofocus is perfect so that you’re more likely to get every shot in focus.

Olympus Pro Capture

There are several aspects that go into capturing a photograph, all of which have been around since the camera was invented – there are just more ways to adjust them now. This includes the aperture (how wide the lens is opening to let light in), the ISO (the camera’s sensitivity to light) and the shutter speed (how fast the lens is opening and closing between photographs).

Olympus has recently introduced a new mode (on the OM-D E-M1X, OM-D E-M1 Mark III, OM-D E-M1 Mark II, OM-D E-M5 Mark III and Tough TG-6 cameras) that is perfect for capturing wildlife (like a pro). Simply put, this mode allows you to capture multiple frames per second so that you don’t miss any of the action.

Using Pro Capture

1. Hold in the shutter button halfway to start capturing up to 35 single images within split seconds

2. When the action peaks, press the button in all the way to start permanently recording these images.

If you hold the button in halfway the entire time, it will simply restart the cycle and record over the up to 35 images it’s holding onto while you decide what moment to record permanently.

Camera Troubleshooting

One of the most helpful tips Brooke imparted to our guides was what to do when your camera doesn’t seem to be working as it should. For example, if you’re looking through your viewfinder and the scene appears blurred, it could be that its focus (different to the setting on the camera lens) has been changed to accommodate someone else’s vision (or simply by accident).

Another thing that could potentially happen is that the lens has been changed to manual focus. On the Olympus camera, there is a slider that shifts backwards and forwards to change this. Check that this is slide is switched back to ‘AF’ to get back to auto-focus.

Now all that’s left to do is go out and shoot your own magnificent photographs using Brooke’s expert advice. No matter whether you are just starting out or consider yourself a seasoned photographer.

Let’s plan your next journey


When we say we’re there every step of the way, we mean it, literally. From planning the perfect circuit, to private inter-camp transfers on Wilderness Air, and easing you through Customs. We’re with you on the ground, at your side, 24-7, from start to finish. Ready to take the road less travelled? Contact our Travel Designers to plan an unforgettable journey.