If you are planning to take an African safari to photograph wildlife in Kenya, Tanzania, or Botswana, start by applying for or updating your passport and then getting in a few days of practice at your local zoo. A trip to a zoo will give you the opportunity to learn how to operate your camera properly so that you can capture the best possible photos of all the creatures you will find in the wild. Even if you have no plans for international travel, a photo trip to the zoo can be interesting and enjoyable. You are prohibited from using a flash unit in most zoos. Flash can frighten and chase off the creatures. A flash will usually give you “red—eye” type problems and glare on glass enclosures. Some zoo enclosures have artificial lighting. Make a few text exposures to fine—tune your white balance, especially if you are shooting JPEG format. When you are shooting RAW files, all the data recorded is available later to correct and fine tune your images. Almost any error you make when shooting a RAW image can be corrected later. JPEG images are processed in your camera and much of the data is discarded. Some cameras can shoot both formats at the same time so you have a choice later. Check with zoo officials to determine if tripods or a monopod are permitted. On a busy weekend, someone is likely to trip over your tripod leg. I pack a monopod to avoid this.
Notes and images from Bob Hitchman.