Zoo PhotographyI spend a lot of time taking photos in zoos and other animal sanctuaries. I’m lucky enough to live near Chester Zoo, one of the best zoos in the world, so I visit regularly. In fact, Chester Zoo is where I first honed my photography skills with a DSLR camera before tackling weddings and portraits.Zoos present different challenges from regular wildlife photography…glass, fences, distracting objects…and other people!Here are a few of tips for working in a zoo environment…
- Use a lens hood whenever possible so you can safely position your lens right up to the glass or a fence. It will protect your lens and also reduce reflection in glass.
- If you can’t get right up to the fence, use centre spot focusing and ‘hunt’ with the focus until you can see your subject is right in the middle of the fence ‘haze’.
- For best results with fences, use a telephoto lens at a longer length, get as close as you can to the fence and have the subject further away.
- Wear dark clothes to reduce your reflection in glass.
- Have a cloth handy for wiping glass.
- Know your subject! Speak to keepers, etc. to find out the best times of the day to see the animal or any habits they may have.
- I personally avoid feeding times but at least you know the animal will be out then so it’s useful to know when they are.
- Watch the animal’s behaviour and anticipate their movements.
- You get nothing in life without asking! If there is a keeper around you could ask to get past any outer barriers for a moment…
- In that dialog, the keeper may help you by calling the animal…the animals often recognize their carers.
- You MUST be patient and wait for your subject. Rushing around a zoo from one enclosure to the next will limit your golden opportunities. You may get lucky but you need to increase your chances with time…
- If you are going to photograph a particular animal then focus on that animal (pardon the pun!) - even if you have to wait hours…
- But also know when to walk away. If the animals just aren’t engaging or you already have a killer shot then move on!
- Always visit when the zoos are less busy!
- Never put your camera away until you leave…my most popular photo ever was taken as I was on my way out after a very unsuccessful visit!Above all, like most photography, practice, practice, practice!Good luck.Photos by Gary.
Our new guest contributor Gary Brookshaw is sharing some phenomenal animal photos, along with great tips to improve your wildlife photography.