Posts Tagged ‘Zoo’
On fathers day, I went to the zoo to take some pictures and I thought I’d share some of the shots and some of the things I have learned about ‘zoo shooting’ that might help you get some great shots at your local zoo.
The first tip is the time of day you go. The San Antonio Zoo offers early entrance (7:30) to zoo members and I take full advantage of it. I go early in the morning for a couple of reasons. First and foremost for me, this is South Texas and it gets really hot really fast. I don’t do well in the heat so the early start time helps keep me from melting. Second, and probably a more important reason is that the animals are more alert early in the morning. They are looking for food and expecting interaction with their keepers. This is one of those things you might want to contact your zoo about, as there are different schedules for different animals. For instance, this Cheetah has play time every afternoon and she knows it. The keeper actually teased her with her toy so I could get this shot on a previous trip.
By the time I got around to her on this trip, she had already been fed and was just laying around relaxing.
I had the same problem with the Sumatran Tiger
However the Spotted Hyena was still waiting on breakfast which allowed me to get this intent shot
CAGE BARS AND WIRE
Another thing folks really hate in zoo shots is having the cage bars in the picture. Most of the time, they really detract from the story you are trying to tell. But if you’re careful, you can shoot the shot so the bars/ wire don’t show up. First get as close to the bars as you can and open the camera aperture wide open to get as much depth of field as you can. For instance:
I shot this one through wire just like you see in the back ground. Being very close with the wide open aperture makes it disappear. Some that can add problems to this is if you can’t get close to the bars/wire. At the San Antonio Zoo, there are often hedges between the shooter and the bars so you are standing back 3-4 ft from the wire. In this case you can’t get close. With a little practice, I was able to shoot using a long zoom lens, with the aperture opened wide up and get pretty much the same effect.
This one and the one after were shot about 4 ft away from the wire and about 6-7 feet away from the monkey.
And this one was shot about 7 ft away through black cage wire.
Sometimes, however, the bars can actually add to the story, like this.
SHOOTING THROUGH GLASS
Another problem photographing zoo animals is shooting through glass. There are two basic issues with glass. One is dirty glass that’s smudged with finger/nose prints. I take a small container of wet wipes and, if the smudges are on the outside, simply clean them before I shoot. If they are on the inside or you don’t have wipes, the only thing I can suggest is to adjust your angle to hit a clean spot.
The other problem with shooting through glass is reflections. These become even worse if you are having to fire the flash. The key to getting these shots is to change your angle. Instead of shooting perpendicular to the glass, adjust your angle to 30-45 degrees and the reflections should diminish. This may take a little trial and error to find the right angle for the shot, but that’s the great thing about digital.
These were all shot through glass by standing at an angle to the glass.
And these were shot through glass with a flash.
So do a little research, gear up and head out to your local zoo for some great photography! It’s always a blast.
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:
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:
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.
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:
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:
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.