Teaching Rangers to Shoot… with cameras!


“I have always believed that when a person gains knowledge and skills, it is appropriate to share the knowledge and skills with others. Not only is this altruism in its purest sense, but it also creates a better environment for all of us to enjoy and from which to benefit.” Tim Driman

Originally posted by Claire Birthwhistle

An exponential surge in the popularity of wildlife and nature photography over the past few years has left safari lodges everywhere scrambling to keep up with the demand for more and more photography focused safari activities.

Game rangers often find themselves under a lot of pressure to ensure that the guests have ample opportunities to get great shots. For rangers with little to no knowledge of what constitutes a good image, this is easier said than done. As a trained FGASA game ranger as well as a professional wildlife photographer, Tim Driman is one of the fortunate few with the ability to understand life from the perspective of a game ranger, and also from that of a wildlife photographer.

On a recent assignment in Botswana, he put this useful combination of skills together and helped to teach and photographically mentor game rangers on how to use a camera and improve their existing skills. Once accomplished, it was hoped that this would enable them to maximise the photographic potential of the guest experience.

Tim tells us a little more about the assignment:

“The very first moment that I sat in front of the first few safari guides and mentioned things like the golden triangle relationship between shutter speed, aperture and ISO, I realised that trying to be smart-arsed and technical was a recipe for total failure, and an embarrassing disaster!

I had to very quickly rethink my entire approach, or catch the next plane out of Dodge!

Bearing in mind and understanding how guides are trained (I myself am a FGASA trained guide so understand how these things are conducted) I decided to grab onto the shirt tails of their ranger training methods and relate stuff in terms which they understood.

Unconventional? You bet, but it seemed to do the trick, because I had them all using full “Manual” settings and understanding histograms and able to understand the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO in 48 hours, and producing some fairly useful images.

ORMS in Cape Town sponsored 2 Canon 7D MKii’s / 100mm-400mm MKii’s which made my life a whole lot easier. I learned a huge amount myself, and hope that the guides who participated in this programme also gained from the experience. The feed-back thus far has been most encouraging.)

Would I do it again? You bet. In a heartbeat!”

Tim had not only successfully taught the rangers how to use a camera, but also how to identify and approach good photography opportunities, how to properly compose the image to effectively tell a story, as well as post-editing techniques for enhancing the photos afterwards.

More recently, Tim was invited by the andBeyond Ranger Training Management to provide their rangers at Phinda Private Game Reserve (Northern KwaZulu-Natal) with mentoring and provide them with a greater understanding of what guests need when photographing wildlife and nature.

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