Archive for the African Safari Category

Tanzania – The Great Migration

Posted in 1, Acratech, Africa, African Safari, Benro, Birding, Birds, BlackRapid, Buffalo, Canon, Cheetahs, Columbia sportswear, Elephant, elephants, Elephants in Africa, Giraffe, Great Migration, Hippo, Hippo yawn, Hippos, Hyenas, Induro, Lilac-Breasted Roller, Lion, lions, Mara River Crossing, Ngorongoro Crater, photo tips, photo tours, Serengeti, Tanzania, Tarangire National Park, Tarangire NP, Wildebeest, zebra with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2020 by mmphototours

_Y5A4415 The masses of wildebeest web ready

_S5C5853 The start web ready

Almost everyone has heard about or seen something on TV about the great wildebeest and zebra migration on the Serengeti in Tanzania.  Think NatGeo or Discovery TV – while those programs are awe-inspiring and extremely educational they do not come close to being in the middle of the Great Migration and experiencing all that comes with the Great Migration.

_S5C5849 The river crossing race is on web ready

So, what is The Great Migration?  It is the epitome of the Circle of Life – it is also known as Africa’s Race for Life.  The journey for the key players in the Great Migration – the 1.5+ million wildebeest, starts in the south of the Serengeti, with the birth of half a million calves between January and March (this is when we do our Reverse Migration safaris).  A favorite season for many seasoned photo safari leaders – the area is full of new life and action.  Predators like lions, cheetah, leopard, and hyenas are constantly stalking the newborn, and tens of thousands of calves are born within a couple weeks of each other.

_S5C5976 Coming out of the woods web ready

When the drought comes in May, the herds moves north cutting through the Serengeti on their way to Kenya and the Maasai Mara.  It is the sight of millions of wildebeest dotting the landscape as far as the eye can see that excites one about The Great Migration.  The wildebeest form great herds and clump together as they make their trek towards the Maasai Mara.  Along the way they dodge many obstacles as they eat their way through the high green grass.  They are quickly followed by gazelle and zebra.

_Y5A2740 Zebra in water B&W

The migration is not without risk.  Rivers crossings means facing over 3,000 crocodiles who are patiently waiting for a meal.  This is what many people think of when they hear “Great Migration.”  While these crossing are often epic they are only part of the entire process.  Do not forget that there is the Serengeti lion population, by far the largest in Africa.  Seeing a group of lions collaborating to take down a wildebeest is an unforgettable sight.  Add to that leopards, cheetahs, and other wildlife and you get a perfect picture of what the Serengeti and The Great Migration are all about.


_Y5A5515 Narrow escape web ready

_Y5A4566 Croc on wildebeest web ready

Then, with the beginning of the short rains in late October, the migration makes its way back onto the Serengeti.  By December, the herds pass Seronera – a small settlement in the central Serengeti where they return to their calving grounds and the circle is complete.  Only to begin anew.

Having led multiple Migration safaris I know what it takes to soak in everything about the process, experience, and still connect with Tanzania and her people and how this entire process supports much of what happens in the greater ecosystem.

Safari activity is the lifeblood of the region.  And, our hosts know exactly how to help us enjoy the experience while still protecting the wildlife.  There are rules to be followed and they only enhance the entire experience.

I always come home from these safaris feeling like I have connected with Mother Earth, learned about myself, learned about my hosts, learned about my guests, and I have always learned about the animals and why they are vital to the survival of the ecosystem and the local way of life.

I hope the  images help you appreciate the beauty of what Tanzania and The Great Migration are all about.  Once you visit you will want to return every chance possible and continue your journey through life as you appreciate what nature has given us to experience, enjoy, and protect.

_Y5A9043 Serengeti sunset web ready

Botswana photo safari

Posted in Acratech, Africa, African painted dogs, African Safari, African wild dogs, Bee-eater, Benro, better my photography, Birding, Birds, Birds in Botswana, BlackRapid, Botswana, Botswana birds, Botswana crocs, Botswana photo safaris, Botswana photo tour, Botswana photo tours, Botswana photography safaris, Botswana safaris, Canon, Chobe River, Columbia sportswear, Crocs in Botswana, Elephant, elephants, Elephants in Africa, Elephants in Botswana, Elephants in Chobe River, Elephants playing in water, Fish Eagles, Fish Eagles in Botswana, Giraffe, Hippo, Hippo yawn, Hippos, Hornbills, how to photography, Hunt's Photo & Video, Induro, Jeff Cable, Kaenon, Khwai Reserve, learn photography, Lenses, Lexar Digital Film, Light, Lilac-Breasted Roller, Lion, lions, Moremi Reserve, Painted Dogs, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Red Bill Hornbill, Tiffen, Travel, Travel Photography, water buffalo, waterbucks, wide-angle, wide-angle lens, Wild Dogs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2019 by mmphototours

M&M Photo Tours, Inc. lead a photo safari to Botswana in July 2018.  Depending on who you ask Botswana is either #1 or #2 for wildlife safaris in Africa.  We can tell you that Botswana did not disappoint and remains in solid medal position for M&M and our guests.

The camera/lens gear I used for the trip was 3 Canon bodies – 5D Mark IV, 5D Mark III, & 7D Mark II and they were paired with the following glass – Sigma 150-600 C, Canon 100-400L II, Canon 70-200L II, or Canon 24-105L.  I also used a Canon Powershot G9 X Mark II for some video and stills.

_51A3600 Fish Eagle take-off web ready WEB SITE

Fish Eagle w/ Canon 7D Mark II, f/8, ISO 640, 1/2500 @ 200mm

This amazing Fish Eagle was one of many that we enjoyed photographing while along the Chobe River.

_Y5A6994 Young elephant splashing water in Chobe River web ready

Elephant w/ Canon 5D Mark IV, f/8, ISO 1600, 1/1600 @ 267mm

And elephants along and in the Chobe River never disappoint.  We had great luck several different times with elephants playing in the water.

_Y5A6964 Elephants playing in Chobe River web ready

Elephants w/ Canon 5D Mark IV, f/8, ISO 1250, 1/1250 @ 172mm

The Chobe has so much life in and around it one could spend years and still not get every possible image presented.  We spend 4 days on and near the river so we capture as much as possible.  Like hippos, giraffe, birds, elephants, crocs, and much more…

_51A3092 Big Hippo entering water with mouth open web ready

Hippo running into Chobe River w/ Canon 7D Mark II, f/8, ISO 640, 1/1600, @ 200mm

_Y5A9305 Giraffe snapping head up while drinking water Chobe River web ready

Giraffe getting a drink w/ Canon 5D Mark IV, f/8, ISO 1600, 1/1250, @ 221mm

There is all sorts of bird life along the river – Kingfishers, Lilac-Breasted Rollers, Herons, Fish Eagles and so many more.


_Y5A6733 Croc eye sharp snout soft web ready

Croc w/ Canon 5D Mark IV, f/8, ISO 1600, 1/400, @ 600mm

We also spent time in Khwai area which is part of the larger Moremi Reserve.  The raw beauty of the setting coupled with the excellent guides and the great hosts at camp made for a memorable trip.  Of course, the photography was amazing and the subjects endless.

_Y5A3061 Hippo splash web ready

Hippo water toss w/ Canon 5D Mark IV, f/8, ISO 2000, 1/800, @ 374mm

_Y5A2980 Moremi hippo yawn web ready

Hippo yawn tight crop w/ Canon 5D Mark IV, f/8, ISO 1600, 1/640, @ 403mm

Plenty of gazelles around the water made for some fun imagery.

One of the big draws to Botswana is the chance to see Wild/Painted Dogs.  They are so beautiful, playful, fun to photograph, and amazing to watch on the hunt.

Botswana probably has more elephants than any other country in Africa and they are everywhere doing everything you expect an elephant to do.  They make for sure great subjects and their young are just adorable.

Lions are always a safari highlight – Botswana has plenty and seeing lions in or near water with their young (tickler alert) is always a plus.

Botswana is a birders paradise.  So many beautiful colors, species, settings, and sizes to photograph.  We had great luck with birds the entire trip.

M&M’s 2019 Botswana photo tour is full but we have dates in 2020 and 2021 on the books so if Botswana is a destination you have been wanting to photograph – start saving now and join us for an awesome safari to Botswana!

Tanzania – wonderful wildlife safaris

Posted in Acratech, Africa, African Safari, Benro, better my photography, Birding, Birds, BlackRapid, Canon, Cheetahs, Columbia sportswear, elephants, Filters, how to photography, Hyenas, Induro, Jeff Cable, Kaenon, Lake Manyara, learn photography, Lenses, Lexar Digital Film, Light, lions, Marketing, Ndutu, Ngorongoro Crater, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Serengeti, Sigma, Tamron, Tanzania, Tarangire National Park, Tarangire NP, Tiffen, Travel, Travel Photography, warthog, water buffalo, waterbucks, wide-angle, wide-angle lens, zebra with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2017 by mmphototours
_E7A0993 Elephant under the Acacia B&W web ready

Elephant rendered in B&W – Canon 5D Mark III, f/11, 1/320, ISO 200, 35mm

_O5A1869 Lioness on a tree1 web ready.jpg

Lioness resting on a fallen tree – Canon 7D Mark II, f/4.5, 1/1000, ISO 2000, 74mm handheld in very low light right before sundown with thick cloud cover

Every year M&M ventures to Tanzania in January and sometimes in August to witness two of the greatest wildlife spectacles on earth.  In January I call it the reverse migration when wildlife returns to Tanzania from Kenya.  This is the calving season for many of the hoofed animals – zebra, wildebeest, gazelle, impala, and more.  It makes for great predator action.  In August we venture over again for the better known Great Migration and river crossing you have all heard about and seen images from many different sources.  This is when the migration leaves Tanzania for Kenya and the better grass across the border.  This post is meant to share just a few comments about Tanzania and several images from recent M&M trips.

Most of trips to Tanzania are all-inclusive – RT economy air from certain US gateway cities, all meals, all lodging, all ground transport, all park fees, world-class driver/guides, and more.  We usually fly through Amsterdam and then into Kilimanjaro International Airport just outside Arusha, Tanzania.

During most trips we visit the following areas – Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, and then spend as much time as possible in the Ndutu area, & Serengeti National Park.  Each area gives us a different view of the wildlife and the migration.  They also afford their own benefits and scenes for the wildlife photography we all desire.

We head to Tarangire for a few reasons – resident wildlife and the elephants.  The park has solid numbers of resident wildlife anytime of year.  This gives us a quick warm-up for what we’ll experience on the rest of the trip.  The Ngorongoro Crater needs no words.  With one of the world’s most dense resident wildlife populations it is hard not to see amazing wildlife or capture great images.  The crater offers one of the best wildlife experiences in all of Africa and certainly one of the top in Tanzania.  Ndutu is a region known for awesome wildlife year round.  The resident cats (lions, leopards, cheetah, and more) are some of my favorites here but there are also elephant, herds of zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, and more.  One of the pluses of a several day stay in Ndutu is the that off-road safari is allowed so you can track and get even closer to wildlife than in other areas.  Of course, we and our driver/guides maintain a respectable distance and give the wildlife the space they need to keep them comfortable.  The Serengeti is arguably the best National Park in all of Africa.  It offers excellent wildlife viewing year round and the space and numbers of animals in the park make every safari authentic and every safari participant yearning for more.

People often wonder what our lodging is like on safari.  Here I am going to give you links to the places we usually stay (our first picks) so you can decide for yourself.  We try to combine authentic safari experiences with several comfortable lodges/camps so our guests are comfortable, safe, and enjoy their time in Tanzania.  Of course, the food is always delicious…

We first stay at Rivertrees upon arrival – Rivertrees is set in a pleasant semi-rural location around 20km to the east of Arusha and is therefore convenient for Kilimanjaro International Airport.  It sits in beautiful informal gardens filled with large shady trees and is centered on a lovely old farmhouse.

Our next stop is one of two camps in Tarangire National Park.  Tarangire Safari Lodge – Tarangire is situated in an impressive hilltop position deep inside the reserve, with extensive views from camp of wildlife along the river. It is a simple facility, but with very nice well-intentioned owners.  Tarangire offers good quality dry season wildlife, notably superb elephant viewing Jun-Dec.  Additional activities include vehicle safari and balloon safari, plus some modest walking safari and night vehicle safari.  Or, we’ll use Tarangire Ndovu Camp depending on group makeup and numbers.  Ndovu is a medium specification mobile tented facility in a quiet location in the northeast of the reserve. It is a comfortable camp, with just six guest tents. Activities include daytime vehicle safari, with possible options for walking safari and night vehicle safari. Wildlife viewing is usually at its best during the dry season, Jun-Dec, particularly strong for elephants.

Our next stop is the Ngorongoro Crater.  Here we always try to use Lemala Ngorongoro Camp.  Lemala is a high quality mobile tented camp set on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater.  It includes a comfortable and nicely appointed mess and nine pleasant guest tents, with reliable owners and a reputation for a really good atmosphere amongst the camp staff.  The lodge is on the better northern side for weather and for early access into the crater.  Vehicle safari into the Ngorongoro Crater itself is the main activity, with walking and cultural activities also being possible.

We always try to book Lake Masek Tented Camp in Ndutu.  Lake Masek is a medium specification permanent tented lodge set in the important Ndutu area and is open year round, with the main migration often being in the area Nov/Apr.  The lodge offers a relatively high level of conventional comforts, especially compared with the mobile tented camps which are so numerous in this area during the migration season.  Another option we have on hold often is Kubu Kubu Tented Camp.  Kubu Kubu is Situated on a gentle hillside with broad views of the Central Serengeti area and is a medium specification permanent tented camp.  It is centered on a large circular structure which contains the lounge and dining areas, leading out to a large swimming pool.  Guest accommodation is in a total of 25 spacious tents on raised platforms and with great views, which are suitable for up to five people, making this place a big favorite for families and camera clubs.  Activities are centered on vehicle safari, with the area offering very solid wildlife viewing year round, notably with incredible predator sightings.  The migration usually passes through May-Jun and Nov-Dec.

Depending on the time of year and camp availability we’ll use one of two of three camps in The Serengeti.  We always like to give folks the experience of a true “roughing it” camp so we use Ronjo Camp.  Ronjo is a medium specification mobile tented camp set in a relatively quiet location in Central Serengeti.  It offers an authentic safari experience, with animals often passing through camp. The camp has a pleasant canvas mess and around sixteen reasonably comfortable guest tents.  It is a closed access camp, which means it does not accept vehicles from other operators, which can lead to a much more intimate atmosphere.  After a couple of nights at Ronjo we’ll move our guests to one of two more upscale camps – Dunia Camp or Kaskaz Camp.  Dunia is a high specification mobile tented camp is in a relatively quiet location in Central Serengeti.  It offers an authentic safari experience, with animals often passing through camp.  The camp has a lovely canvas mess and around eight guest tents. It is elegantly presented and genially hosted.  Activities are centered on vehicle safari, with the area offering very solid wildlife viewing year round with incredible predator sightings, especially Jul-Oct.  The migration usually passes through May-Jun and Nov-Dec.  Kaskaz is a small and relatively upmarket mobile tented camp with eight guest tents .  Kaskaz offers style and grace in the northern Serengeti – we use this camp for the August Great Migration safari.

We cap every trip off with a stay at Gibbs Farm (when available and we book far enough in advance.  This place is an oasis after a safari and bring a level of comfort and peace that unrivaled in Tanzania.  Gibbs Farm has been voted Best Safari Hotel in Africa in the past.  Gibb’s Farm imparts a sense of well-being, tranquility and history—deeply rooted in African culture and community—in a warm, rustic luxury environment.  A peaceful sanctuary to rejuvenate the senses while on safari in Tanzania, the farm features cozy, well-appointed cottages, breath-taking scenery and wildlife and unique cultural activities that allow you to fully experience the rhythms and beauty of the farm, community and nature.

Hope you have enjoyed our little piece on our Tanzania adventures.  We’d love to host you on one of our Tanzanian safaris sometime soon.  We have tours coming up in August 2017 that has 2 spots available, one in January 2018 that still has multiple spots open, one in August 2018 that has multiple spots open, and back-to-back luxury trips scheduled for January & February 2019 with guest pro Jeff Cable.

Sigma 150-600 C lens test in Tanzania

Posted in 1, Africa, African Safari, Benro, better my photography, Birding, Birds, BlackRapid, Canon, Clik Elite, Columbia sportswear, elephants, how to photography, Induro, Kaenon, Lake Manyara, learn photography, Lenses, Lexar Digital Film, lions, Marketing, Ngorongoro Crater, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Serengeti, Sigma, Tanzania, Tarangire NP, Travel, Travel Photography, warthog, waterbucks, zebra with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2016 by mmphototours
_E7A8391 Elephant walk web ready.jpg

Young elephant crossing the river in Tarangire National Park

In June of 2016 Mike G had the chance to make a visit to Tanzania with family and friends where he spent several days testing the Sigma 150-600 C lens in three different Tanzanian National Parks – Tarangire, Ngorongoro, & Lake Manyara.

Bottom line – Mike G, who has used the Tamron 150-600 VC lens and Canon L series big glass on African safaris in the past, was very pleased with the lens and feels it is every bit the lens the Tamron is with possibly better stabilization and color reproduction and offers a better bang for your buck than the much more expensive Canon or Nikon options.

All of the following images were taken with a Canon 5D Mark III and the Sigma 150-600 C lens.

_E7A8312 Waterbuck family web ready

Waterbuck family checking surroundings

Elephant crossing the river in Tarangire NP

_E7A8396 Elephant vignette web ready

Elephant crossing the river Tarangire National Park


The first thing most people are going to notice with this lens is the price tag – much less than the Canon 100-400 II, Nikon 80-400 VR, Canon 200-400 w/ 1.4x, or any of the prime BIG glass lenses either Canon or Nikon offer.  And, you are gonna save size vs a few of the other options while not adding much bulk vs some of the slightly smaller options – Canon 100-400 II or even Nikon 80-400 VR.

High quality glass is vital to the optical quality of any image.  The quality Mike G observed in this test shows that the 150-600 C is an excellent lens with high quality workmanship coming out of the Sigma Aizuwakamatsu (where Mike actually lived for several months while a young man) factory in Japan.  The FLD & SLD glass elements help the lens achieve a high degree of clearer, sharper, greater clarity and excellent contrast across the focal range.  While not weather-sealed like its Big Brother the S version the lens should withstand most light weather situations but you’ll want some form of heavy weather protection should you venture out in heavy rain/snow.

Mike G finds the lens be very sharp at all focal lengths up till about 550mm – especially when stopped down to f/8.  Above 550mm stopping down to f/11 helps keep the center of images sharp and clean.

_E7A8184 Lilac Breasted Roller web ready

Lilac-Breasted Roller checking surroundings

The next thing you are going to notice is a wonderful range (150-600mm) which will allow you to fix this lens on your favorite camera body and shoot all day without changing lenses – which can be extremely convenient and save a lot of sensor cleaning while out on safari – or even shooting birds in the backyard or wildlife in Yellowstone National park.  With a minimum focusing distance of 110.2″ critters will have to be pretty close – 9.2′ or just a tad over 3 yards away to not focus.  If you are that close to any wildlife you had better be near small wildlife that cannot hurt you or in vehicle that can help protect you.  For sporting events – depending on the event – it can be the lens that reaches out and touches the action.

Some of you may ask – what about the min/max aperture range of the lens – f/5-6.3 – f/22 and capturing images in low light?  Not a concern if you are shooting with a relatively new body that handles noise/high ISO situations well.  Feel free to bump that ISO up to keep your shutter speed up if needed.  Plus, the Sigma Optical Stabilization, which includes an accelerometer for better panning results, is going to get gain you anywhere from 2 – 3 stops when handholding with good, solid technique.  So, go ahead and shoot away.

_E7A9186 Wildebeest rut B&W web ready

Wildebeest males battle during rut

_E7A8970 Lion gaze web ready

Male lion surveying Ngorongoro Crater surroundings

How about the auto focus performance you may ask?  Mike G found it to be very accurate, fast, and quiet.  The Sigma Hyper Sonic Motor is reliable and Mike G found it be a bit faster than the Tamron 150-600.  The lens does also come with a focus limiter switch which can be handy when subjects are more than 33+ feet away.

_E7A9288 Warthogs in wild flowers web ready

Warthog family lounging in the short grasses of Ngorongoro Crater

_E7A8377 Young elephant water-crossing web ready.jpg

Young elephants crossing the river in Tarangire National Park

Do we (Mike G) recommend this lens?  Yes.  This lens offers great image quality at an excellent price point.  The outstanding performance seen coupled with the savings makes this lens a viable option for even the most serious wildlife photographers.

_E7A8661 The horns web ready.jpg

Lounging gazelle

_E7A7889 Zebra face web ready.jpg


Wonderous Namibia

Posted in 1, Acratech, Africa, African Safari, Benro, BlackRapid, Canon, Clik Elite, Columbia sportswear, Induro, Kaenon, Lexar Digital Film, Namobia, Sand Dunes, Tamron, Tiffen with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2015 by mmphototours
Dead Vlei Dunes - Namibia

Dead Vlei Dunes – Namibia

We have visited many awesome countries and cultures in our travels.  There are so many that it is hard to list and explain how many awesome places there are on earth for photography let alone on learning about people and cultures.

Namibia is one that will blow you away with awesome photography and some of the hardest working and nicest people on earth.

Our visit to Namibia in March of 2015 was full of fun with an awesome group and the best local guides one could ask for.  The lodging was world-class and the food was simply amazing.  Our evening bush dinner was a highlight – the Oryx and Zebra were rather tasty.

Group at tropic of Capricorn

Group at Tropic of Capricorn

Swakopmund Hotel

Swakopmund Hotel

We were there to get to know the country a bit more and shoot as much as possible.  Namibia DID NOT disappoint in any regard.  There are so many images waiting that it is almost impossible to go too many minutes without capturing a stellar image.  It is always a good omen when you wander out on your first day in country and it starts to rain – but only lasts a few minutes and then you are presented with an awesome double rainbow…

Double Rainbow on first day of shooting

Double Rainbow on first day of shooting

Namibia possesses some of the most stunning landscapes in Africa.  A trip through the country is one of the greatest road adventures to be had on earth.  This was our journey – the roads and sites of southern Namibia.  Namibia gained its independence March 21, 1990 after having passed through the hands of the Germans as a colony and then being tossed around as German South-West Africa and then South West Africa – part of South Africa.

There are so many natural wonders in Namibia but the desolate desert roads where granite rises out of dense red-colored desert sand is what will dazzle and amaze.  This trip for us concentrated on the southern half of the country – the sand dunes and coast.  We’ll save the wildlife of Etosha National Park for a combined trip in the near future.  In our opinion there is simply no place else of earth that provides the vast and amazing sand dunes and coast of Namibia.

Dead Vlei Trees Low Profile

Dead Vlei Trees Low Profile

Dead Vlei Triplets

Dead Vlei Triplets



Climbing Big Daddy Dune

Climbing Big Daddy Dune



Sand Dune Ripples

Sand Dune Ripples

Sossuvlei Dunes

Sossuvlei Dunes

The people of Namibia are kind, gracious and always smiling.  We also found them to be very happy to allow us to capture some shots of them doing their thing.

Namibian Bushmen

Namibian Bushmen

Kalahari Ferrari

Kalahari Ferrari

Gunther The Chopper Pilot

Gunther The Chopper Pilot

One of the most popular sites to visit is the Ghost town of Kolmanskop – the eerie images of the old buildings being recaptured by the sands of the desert remind us of the power of Mother Nature and make for some classic shots.

Kolmanskop Door in Sand

Kolmanskop Door in Sand

Kolmaskop Ghost Town

Kolmanskop Ghost Town

Kolmanskop Ghost Town

Kolmanskop Ghost Town

Kolmanskop Ghost Town

Kolmanskop Ghost Town

We even found some desert wildlife with the help of Tommy who is an awesome guide and has a great sense of humor to boot.

Mountain Zebras

Mountain Zebras



Desert Critter

Desert Critter

Chameleon On The Run & Changing Colors

Chameleon On The Run & Changing Colors On Hot Sand

Oryx B&W

Oryx B&W

Chameleon Catch

Chameleon Catch

We hope you’ve enjoyed our little trip through what we enjoyed most about Namibia.  We look forward to returning again soon – April 1-17, 2016 (travel days included) with a fine group of photographers and invite you to join us as well as we cover both the southern and northern parts of the country and include Etosha National Park and the wildlife in the trip itinerary.  For details visit here:

Sunset on Namibia Coast

Sunset on Namibia Coast

Restricted Photo Gear

Posted in Africa, African Safari, Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat, Ankor Thom, Art, better my photography, Cambodia, Canon, China, Ethiopia, Europe, how to photography, Iceland, Iguazu, Indochina, Italy, Japan, Laos, learn photography, Machu Picchu, National Park Photo Workshops, National Parks, New Zealand, Nikko Japan, Patagonia, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Terracotta Warriors, Travel, Travel Photography, Turkey, Tuscany, Vietnam with tags , , , , , , on May 13, 2011 by mmphototours

A few times a year we find ourselves at different locations around the country offering travel photography seminars and presentations.  We discuss many different things, what to take, how to pack, how to travel efficiently, travel photo tips, and images from past trips…but one topic that people always enjoy is “Restricted Photo Gear”.

Many photographers don’t realize that certain locations have restrictions on photography gear whether it be size, type or weight. The last thing you want, for example, is to show up to Machu Picchu for your photographic adventure of a lifetime only to be turned away at the entrance because you have 200+mm lenses. It is very important to “know before you go” and for that reason we would like to share a list of restrictions in a few areas. Take note this is not a complete list, and you should research each specific location you will be visiting.

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (aka Ayers Rock) – Under Australian law, namely the EPBC Act of 1999 and EPBC Regs 2000, fines in the thousands of dollars can be imposed upon commercial photographers who take pictures in the national park without a permit or who take pictures of the ‘wrong’ parts of the national park. Some restrictions apply to amateur photography as well.

A person does not have the right to not be photographed in Australia; as Australia has no Bill of Rights in the sense that many other countries do, there is no guaranteed right to privacy. This does not however mean that it is a free-for-all. Be kind, courteous and aware of others. If you are on private property you must follow the rules dictated by the owner.

New Zealand 
Restrictions on photography come into play when it may be construed as “offensive” to a reasonable person.

The Sistine Chapel in Vatican City
– prohibits all still and video photography.

You can photograph anything in public but if you plan on publishing it the subject must give consent. Street photography has been essentially rendered illegal.

You are allowed to take photographs of private property from public property, but once upon private property, the owner has ultimate control over whether or whether not you are allowed to photograph, even if it is publicly accessible.

Locations such as Trafalgar Square, Parliament Square, or any of the Royal Parks allow recreational or artistic photographs. Commercial photography of these locations is prohibited.

The UK forbids any photography that may somehow prove of use to terrorists.

United States
US National Parks – Permit requirements vary by park for commercial photography. Non-commercial or amateur photographers are free to shoot in the parks. You may be questioned if you are using tripods or other “professional” equipment. There are exceptions for “educational” groups. 

Alaska – Bush planes restrict weight of all equipment and luggage.  Check with your tour operator or M&M.

Machu Picchu – Professional looking large tripods and lenses are restricted in the Machu Picchu complex. There have been many instances where photographers where charged upwards of $300 for every large tripod and lens larger than 200mm. A possible way around this is to use “Tele-zoom lenses”. They are great to use at Machu Picchu instead of the prime lenses.  

Authorities sometimes ask for “permit fees” for street photography of government buildings.
Police/Military do not like their pictures taken. Please contribute to making photographers reputations better by following their wishes.

While crossing the border sometimes authorities may restrict gear and/or demand a fee. 

In Islamic countries photographing women is forbidden.

Terra Cotta Warriors – No tripods of any size are permitted inside the buildings that house the Terra Cotta Warriors. If caught using one it will be confiscated without warning and will not be returned.

Authorities sometimes ask for “permit fees” for street photography of government buildings.

Chinese Police/Military do not like their pictures taken. Please contribute to making photographers reputations better by following their wishes.

Authorities do not allow pictures of military installations and many government buildings.

Anyone taking very expensive photographic gear into Egypt, particularly if they are professionals, should contact the Egyptian Press Office in their Egyptian consulate.  Equipment must often be registered, because the government does not want such equipment bought into Egypt and then sold without paying customs taxes.  They will check this gear upon arrival and check it upon departure.  CUSTOMS FORM 4457 is VITAL.

Photos cannot be taken INSIDE the pyramids, tombs and most museums in Egypt without a permit.  Your gear may be confiscated and you may be fined.

While crossing the border authorities may restrict gear and demand a fee.  Restrictions vary in Gaza areas depending on local activities.

Galapagos Islands 
Officials do not restrict any specific equipment but often limits the length of time you take to “set-up” your tripods and equipment according to wildlife, flora and access for others.  Common sense should rule the day.

Without a permit you are restricted to shooting during the mid-day hours. This is often solved by being with a tour group who has already acquired the appropriate permits.

Flights into Patagonia (Argentina or Chile) restrict weight of all equipment and luggage. Check with the airline or M&M.

Allowed gear: 1 camera with film rolls (up to 20 rolls), 1 video camera/camcorder with accessories as personal items.  M&M works with in country vendors to ensure we do not have any issues upon arrival.  FORM 4457!

May restrict any/all of our camera gear into the country.  The Ethiopian government has a reputation for locking up camera equipment and not giving it back until the owners leave the country.  The government fears any media that may make them out to be corrupt or irresponsible.  Our ground vendor takes care of our “permits” in advance so we do not have any issues. FORM 4457 is a must for Ethiopia as well.

Tripods are no longer allowed (signs are posted) at the following Temples/Shrines in Kyoto: 
Kiyomizu Temple
Ginkaku Shrine (Silver Pavillion)
Kinkaku Shrine (Golden Pavillion)

North Korea
Please be aware that tourists are under very strict regulations as to what they can and cannot do and this is not negotiable. For example, you are not free to wander around on your own, there are photographic restrictions and video cameras are generally prohibited. There have been serious problems in the past with journalists and therefore they are not welcome.

Generally you are only supposed to take pictures of what your appointed guides allow you to. The public is obliged to report all photography.

Your are restricted from taking photographs of: soldiers, check points, poverty, sneaked photos, while driven around and close ups of people.

Do not take your camera with you if you are alone and without a guide.

Any lens over 150mm is not allowed in the country.

Most Countries
You are almost guaranteed to find trouble if you photograph anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest — including bridges, airfields, military installations, government buildings or government vehicles. This could result in being detained and questioned, along with hefty fines and confiscation of the camera.

In Conclusion
The best option for anyone out there is to join a photo tour who has already obtained the proper permits, can provide you a list of restrictions and advise you while you are out shooting.

If you ever need any help you can always call M&M Photo Tours. We are ready and willing to help.  Also feel free to email us ( with any inquiries. To stay informed of changes ask to be signed up for our news letter.


Posted in Adam Barker, Adam Barker Photography, Africa, African Safari, Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat, Ankor Thom, Art, better my photography, Cambodia, Canon, China, how to photography, Indochina, Italy, Laos, learn photography, Light, Machu Picchu, Moose Peterson, Nikon, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Ron Wyatt, Travel, Travel Photography, Tuscany, Vietnam with tags , , , on March 14, 2011 by mmphototours


Spring is here and everyone is busy planning their travel season. It is important to decide on your destinations and book them soon because tours fill fast and you need to plan ahead. Tours fill fast but that’s no reason to rush into booking a tour before you compare QUALITY, CONTENT & PRICE. There is NOT a photo tour company that compares with our value and content! Now don’t think that because we give you a better value or lower price we are sacrificing quality and service. ABSOLUTELY NOT!  We offer GREAT Prices GREAT Service & GREAT Content. Just listen to what Bob had to say after our China’s Best Treasures tour in 2010. 

“I have been traveling on photography workshops since 2003 and China’s Best Treasures is the best trip I have ever taken.”      
              — Bob E., PA

How about what our guest pro Adam Barker had to say after our Laos, Vietnam & Cambodia tour in 2010?

“With literal decades of travel and photography experience under their belt, M&M Photo Tours is the answer for your exotic photography aspirations! Timing and location is paramount to capturing memorable five-star imagery, and M&M Photo tours make this top priority, all while maintaining an authentic and comfortable travel experience. As a guest pro for their 2010 Indochina tour, I look forward to many more fantastic photographic journeys with one of the best photo tour operators out there.” 
             –Adam Barker

Let’s compare a few to give you an idea: 
    (And don’t forget, our prices INCLUDE Round Trip Airfare!)

1) NatGeo offers China for $6895 before air.
M&M gives you an all inclusive China tour with Ron Wyatt for $5200 INCLUDING RT air!

2) NatGeo offers Vietnam & Cambodia for $7295-$7695 before air.
Van Os Photo Safaris offers Cambodia & Myanmar for $7995 before air.
M&M gives you Laos, Vietnam & Cambodia (Angkor Wat & more) with Adam Barker for $6250 INCLUDING RT air!

3) NatGeo offers Italy for $5995 before air.
M&M offers Tuscany w/ private villa and day trips to other locales for $5800 INCLUDING RT air!

4) NatGeo offers 10 days in India for $7160 before air.
M&M offers 14 days in North India & Nepal for $6900 INCLUDING RT air!

5) Van Os Photo offers 11 days in Tanzania for $9595 before air.
M&M offers 13 days in Tanzania for $9900 INCLUDING RT air!

6) NatGeo offers 9 days in Peru (Machu Picchu) for $5480 before air.
M&M offers 10 days in Peru (Machu Picchu) for $5900 INCLUDING RT air!

There is just a taste of what we offer compared to other photo tours that are out there. We have a lot of fun and give you the best service while doing it. It is important not to wait to book your tour, because most people sign-up in early to late spring and the tours fill fast after April 1.

Follow this link to our website for more info or check out other tours that are listed on this blog!!

You can also follow this link to BOOK YOUR TOUR NOW!