Photography at the Zoo

18.12.2011 by: lz3ai

Why there?

From Sofia Zoo recently began working with a special radio LZ123ZOO initial event in the 123rd anniversary of Sofia Zoo creation.

But it was only the occasion. And the reason?

Girl in the Zoo

Girl in the Zoo

After several visits to zoos may be appropriate to share experiences for the convenience of those who have yet to do so. To share, as they say, the lessons learned.

Zoos are great places for photography. There, along a short distance and there are animals that to shot you need to travel thousands of kilometers. In the zoo you will find many different topics – not only animals but also children, street scenes, portraits of people and whatnot. You may encounter monkeys on both sides of the grid. To find insects and flowers for macro photography. Even if you feel, at least for a moment, the beauty of underwater photography.

Penguin

Penguin

Indeed, everything becomes much easier than in real terms of wildlife, but here you have some challenges, too:

  • Photography is a solitary activity. Visit the zoo with his wife (or husband), children and grandchildren is not the best solution. Except, of course, is – if she (he) or they are also photographers.
  • Distance is not very big, but unlike that in the wild is overwhelming (unless if it is doesn’t matter if you go to the police).
  • Objects are moving and do not obey. Photographers usually have enormous power – even if you say Queen “Smile!” she smiles. But a rhinoceros (for example) and what to speak to him, even telling jokes to him, they will look stupid and calmly, without you ever knowing what it think.
  • Lighting is often a problem. Or dark or the sun is in the wrong direction, or something else. No please …
  • Bars of the cells hamper. It is hardly the best solution to run camera behind bars of a tigress for her shoot. If it decides to do something, and most flattering compliments will not help much …
  • Somewhere no bars, but there are glass. Often not the most pure, as they are taken care of the workers at the zoo. Reflections from the glass are not pleasant.

Since I not seem to know a real photographer who likes to challenge everything that been listed above is not a problem.

Fish

Fish

Gears

It’s equipment that would do the work in the zoo.

In some parks can feed squirrels with peanuts and it is better to have permanently in a few in pockets. In zoos usually animal feed does not work – everywhere stand ominous signs “Do not feed the animals.”

But what a photographer should pick with him at the Zoo?

The answer to this question is very subjective and also depends on what animals are in this Zoo. I will share my conclusions, but leave it to everyone to decide what to choose, what to agree or disagree.

1. Camera and lenses.

Here there is no dispute – the camera is needed! There are already suitable compact cameras with high magnification (or zoom), but the dSLR seen to be classics. Arm the dSLR with primary or telephoto lens with at least 200-300 mm focal length. If the camera is compact, it is better to be with super zoom 10-12x. (Optical zoom – forget it. In fact, why mention it in the specifications?).

Camera & Lenses

Camera & Lenses

Macro lenses can also be very useful (for example, where butterflies and other insects).

2. Tripod (monopod)

Tripod is a valuable thing in less light. And the zoo, even if outside light can be really insufficient.

Tripod

Tripod

Other times you may need stability and dynamics at the same time – the animals must not stop in one place – that’s where it is useful monopod.

3. Lens Hood

Surely not I am only of those who do not like hoods. Just stick the front of the lens with dubious effect. I prefer to choose good place with better illumination.

Yes, but in the zoo you may have no choice. Hood helps. You can make a shadow with your hand, but the machine becomes unstable… especially if you use a large telephoto lens, and your other hand is insufficient strong.

4. Polarizing and ND filters

When you shoot through glass, polarizing filter is very valuable. At least you could minimize your work with Photoshop.

Filters

Filters

And with the ND-filters you can get different effects – fabulous water over the waterfall near the sleeping penguins or flying like-a-spirit bird.

Of course, if your attendants endure you. 😉

5. A cloth or handkerchief

You can wipe fingerprints when shooting through glass (for example).

Cloth

Cloth

A few tips

1. Point of interest

Probably every photographer at the beginning ‘click’ anything seen. Especially since there are digital cameras and memory cards prices fell down. However, the accumulation of routine in the shooting, everybody when enter the zoo, he began to think: “What exactly arouse my interest in this animal? Its color or pattern? Contrast with the environment? Or it is funny or its position is fun? Why do I want to shoot it accurately this animal or not anything else around? I do not waste time in deleting unnecessary uninteresting pictures…”

Point of Interest

Point of Interest

And when define the point at which to make future viewer of the photograph to focus, everything is easy – we know the composition and know how to do and what parameters to stress when shooting.

2. Approach

One of the main compositional techniques is possible to fill the image with the object of our attention (point of interest). Well, maximum, maximum – how much is this maximum – for everything you have reasonable limits and it is decided individually for each composition. Anyway, for this to happen – come close! Not inside the cage of lions, but as close as possible. Nearly with appropriate focus cell can become almost invisible. Or glare from the glass will hide.

Lizard

Lizard

When approaching be careful not to violate certain prohibitions and rules of the zoo – they are usually quite legibly and large written… do not create yourself problems that can spoil the pleasure of walking and shooting.

It is enough to get close so to avoid distracting elements in the composition or glare from various smooth surfaces.

3. Focus on your subject-animal

As we know, in portrait photography “eyes are the window to the soul.” Although you may not speak an animal language, this is particularly true for them, too. This creates a nice sense of intimacy between the object and its image viewer.

Bird

Bird

4. Change the height of the shooting

Forget about laziness – you still on tour! If you need somewhere squatted. Go down. Elsewhere climb (but do not forget about the rules at the Zoo!). The goal is to reach the level of the eyes of the animal you are shooting. You may need to kneel or otherwise dirty (there are so many ways to do so) – note somewhat that when choosing clothes for the Zoo. It happens to look foolish in the eyes of some visitors, but they are gone here to see the monkeys, why deny them additional free pleasures?

Bird

Bird

5. Elimination of glare

Pictures thorough glass are not the most pleasant thing. Often it is dirty and greasy with fingerprints. Here comes into play handkerchief, which I mentioned at the beginning. Well, it could do with the sleeve, but if your wife sees you I do not answer! Or children – such action impacts much anti-disciplined. It’s nice to put a lens hood. Or at least try with your hand or something else to overshadow glare, if any.

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

“Mercedes” in this work remains polarizing filter. Do not be shy to pluck it out and to set it on the lens. Also take it off once you have finished shooting through glass – otherwise you will take the following photos with unnecessarily darker lens.

There are cases where reflections are useful – if you pull back, the reflections of other viewers with what they see, can suddenly create good composition and great picture.

6. Shooting in cells

Here become into force your knowledge and experience. Nobody likes to shoot through the wire fence or cages. But now required.

Bird

Bird

Without thinking it happen so – you may find a wider hole, where strike lens (be smart, especially near the cages of the beasts) – often there have a wide opening near the door (perhaps for a meal).

By thinking it happens as you recall the theory of depth of focus.

This means that you can open maximum aperture and to pray to the animal away most of the grid – so as to be in the area where the focus is best. In a large aperture that can be quite difficult because this area is small (short). For each case must be tried – the distance at which the animal is the grid, the depth of focus can be very small and not focus on the whole animal (do not forget to focus the eyes!).

But the grid or cell will appear blurry or almost not visible. Question of setting, possibly more testing and patience.

7. Shooting people

In the Zoo there are not only animals (this may be an issue sometimes, but at least registered as animals are more). But we should not limit ourselves with pictures of animals. And among the people can have interesting faces, postures, gestures and reactions, especially when observed animals – sometimes not very clear who imitates whom.

Shooting People

Shooting People

When you shooting small children, do not forget to ask parents to do this! The same goes for pets, if other visitors have any with themselves. For the rest it is not so rigid rule – people there are accustomed to photographers around and hardly anyone will be impressed … unless oddity, or perhaps wanted by police. In any case, you need to do this delicately and carefully.

8. Looking for humor and funny stories

Keep your camera handy, ready to catch another funny story (there happen often, but cannot be repeated). Monkey can do funny gesture to you, giraffes to lick his entire nose with a long tongue (or catch the expression of envy of this movement by someone in the audience), ostrich can dragged neck to steal something from the pocket of grinning spectators.

Funny

Funny

9. Treatment of animals such as moving objects

And the laziest animal in the zoo move and nobody can say when and where it will be moved. This means higher speed and fast focus mode according to the capabilities of the camera. If you can, a good solution is the use of serial images, especially for agile animals or flying birds.

10. Planning a visit

From the first time it may not happen. But take note of the maps and opening hours of facilities and cells that have one. Talk to the guards and people who feed animals – when animals eat, when animals are most active, attractive and interesting. It is not bad to look at the zoo store and especially cards – you can get inspiration for interesting positions and expectations of the behavior of different animals. Or to choose convenient angle and location shooting. Try not to repeat, however, pictures of cards – such shots will not be interesting if they are already known.

11. Patience

Some animals are great posers, others you have to wait long time to do something interesting. Usually these things are unpredictable and you need to wait… And patience. Arm plenty of it – it is often rewarded with an interesting story, composition, lighting, or suggestion.

Monkeys

Monkeys

12. Context, content and feeling

Think always of context, environment, background and foreground of the image. As for the suggestion that you want to achieve. Animals in the Zoo are often at much less distance than allow bringing in the wild, but the situation is not so natural. Zoo designers are trying to achieve authenticity, but never the same … You need to look for an angle that displays green instead of cement or other unusual animal environment. You can try and play with depth of field – blurry focus maximum about undesired object and focus to the objects (again remind – especially the eyes). Foreground sometimes could be blurry – you not limit to do this if need it.

Otter

Otter

Well that’s enough advice that the next would be thirteen.

I hope I was helpful!

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