Taking photos at the zoo

What did you guys do Christmas Eve? I took a little Photo Safari to the San Antonio Zoo! We’ve been zoo members for a long time, but we haven’t been in forever. I really wanted to take some cool pictures and thought this would be a great place. As usual, I was right. 😎

I thought I would share a few of the pictures from the trek and a few of the lessons I learned while shooting them. First is this lovely Condor:

Condor (by enlighten-up)

One o the hardest things about shooting at the zoo is the wire on the cages. Here, with most of the rest of the photo opportunities at the zoo, the zoom is your friend. Interestingly, if you zoom all the way in and focus on your subject, the wire goes out of focus. Sometimes it will completely disappear. My point and shoot as a decent zoom, but nothing like a DSLR. If this had been taken with a DSLR, I think the wire would have completely disappeared.

Sometimes, depending on the size of the wire, this can present a different challenge, as in this photo of a Hyacinth McCaw:

Hyacinth McCaw (by enlighten-up)

Here, the mesh wire is dense enough that it was somewhat of a challenge to get the camera to focus on the bird and not the wire. The only thing I can really suggest here, short of going to manual focus (which is a real pain on my camera), is to try until you happen to get it.

Another suggestion, especially if you are a member, is to check the zoo literature and website for times that different things occur. The following, I just lucked up on, but there were some people there knowing what was going to happen.

Cheetah 2 (by enlighten-up)

Attentive Cheetah (by enlighten-up)

The way I was able to capture such an attentive look on the cheetahs face was the fact that it was play time. The handler was bringing out some plastic balls that she plays with. When she heard the handler, she quickly focused on her. The handler was nice enough to stand behind me and speak to her while I snapped away.

On this same ‘timing’ vein. Try to go early in the morning or late in the evening. Not only is the light much better, but those are usually feeding times. If you go in the middle of the afternoon, like I did, you get shots more like this:

Naptime Lion (by enlighten-up)

Yes, it was nap time for the lions. It was nap time for many animals, really. I was lucky enough to catch some of them just before drifting off. The Heyena is a prime example:

Heyena 2 (by enlighten-up)

Above all, have fun with the photos! Even when you get home from taking them. Oddly, this seems to be the most popular picture from the day. All I did was blur the back ground (depth of field) and turn it black and white.

Just Hangin' Around (by enlighten-up)

That’s about all the ‘tips’ I can offer. If you want to see the rest of the pictures from this excursion, check out my SA Zoo Set on Flickr.com. Enjoy!

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