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Photographer's Note

Before my trip to Victoria Falls last month, I did an extensive Internet search for tips on photographing the Falls – I wanted to know which side (Zambia or Zimbabwe) had the best views, which was the best time of the day to shoot, etc. but I couldn’t find much information.

So here are a few tips for TrekEarthers who have yet to make the trip to Victoria Falls. For those who have already been, please feel free to add your own tips.

Which is the best side to shoot from? The Falls face the Zimbabwe side, so that is the best side to shoot from (I have posted a typical shot from the Zimbabwe side looking towards the Zambia side in the workshop), but there are two provisos: 1. As the Falls run roughly east to west, and face south, and the Falls are at about latitude 18 degrees south, you are shooting into the sun for most of the year (you will only have the sun overhead or behind you on the Zimbabwe side in the summer months); and 2. There are still plenty of good POVs on the Zambia side, even though you can’t see all of the Falls from that side, so you really should plan to shoot from both sides.

Which is the best POV? There are several lookouts in the rainforest on the Zimbabwe side that give you good wide shots of the Falls, but when the river is full, and the Falls at their most spectacular, you and your equipment will get soaking wet from the spray. I was told that sometimes the spray is so thick that you can’t even see the Falls. In those circumstances, the best POV is from the air, like in the photograph I have posted. Several helicopters, light planes and micro-lights operate from the Zambia side, but with the helicopters and light planes you are shooting through perspex windows which can distort the image, and they do not let you take cameras on the micro-lights. The best option, in my view, is the single ultra-light that operates from a small bush strip on the Zimbabwe side (see picture in workshop) as that has an open cockpit.

Which is the best lens to use for aerial shots? I fitted a 12-24 mm wide angle to my D100 and carried a 24-120 mm lens in case I wanted to swap. As it turned out, I shot nearly every frame at 12 mm and didn’t use the other lens. It would have been better to have taken my fish-eye as a second lens.

Which is the best side to stay on? There are more accommodation options on the Zambia side (but more expensive) and it is safer on that side. The Zimbabwe economy has all but collapsed (all the petrol stations were closed when I was there because they had no fuel to sell) and there is not much to see in the Victoria Falls township except lots of baboons hanging around the streets. I stayed three days on the Zimbabwe side and one day on the Zambia side – in hindsight I should have organised it the other way around.

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Additional Photos by David Astley (banyanman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1237 W: 108 N: 2568] (7789)
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