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Photo Craft Technique Taking Zoo Photo Tips

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Old Apr-07-2005, 08:12 AM
#1
windoze is offline windoze OP
a life long newbie
windoze's Avatar
Taking Zoo Photo Tips
{These are the shots I aspire to get this summer . Your Zoo shots are fantastic and I wonder if you could share your secret to timing when the animals you shoot are so active?
I know many of us in the the great white north are looking forward to going to the zoo in the spring /summer /fall and could probably benefit from your experience. If you have posted this(zoo tips) before please give me a link to it.
At any rate I enjoy seeing your posts here and your contribution to this forum is quite impressive.}


Cheers
Tim

*



THANK YOU TIM!!!
some people have asked if i have any tips i could offer for taking photos at the zoo. there are some things i would advise. i will leave camera techniques for others to comment on ( EC / polarizers / monopods ) #1 - GO ALONE. do not go with a friend, what will happen is that you will feel obligated or rushed to move on. you might also fall victim to trying to compete with your friend and not take as much time as you might have. also the two of you together will chat... waste time. lastly when there are two or more of you, you are inclined not to get up front for the both of you with your cameras will prevent others from seeing. However that said - you could go with Andy, but then again you might spend more time at the cafeteria than shooting ( hee hee ). i like to go alone and when i do i choose only ONE EXHIBIT to stay at. Im lucky to live near the BRONX ZOO and can go everyday. when i go i will plan before what im trying to capture and stay until the job is done - even if the zoo employees say its time to leave, I STAY! ( almost been escorted out a few times )
#2 FORGET ABOUT MAKING NOISES and calling the animals attention - IT DONT WORK! the animals are used to people and their vocies and they dont really care if you scream / hoot / belch .... etc. if you want a animals attention, often there is shubbery nearby ( on the other side of a post ) try to rattle the branches! That sound gets their attention! bring a whistle or that thing you spin and it makes a cranking sound ( the monkeys tend to like that ). DONT STARE - some animals get intimidated and look away. If the animal is sleeping, id still stay there for up to 20 minutes. i cant tell you how many times as i was leaving the animal got up and "posed". find out when eating time is! many animals SLEEP after eating!!!!!
#3 DONT GO ON A FREE DAY / EVENT DAY - youll never get upclose. i go two hours before the zoo closes or right when it opens. never during the afternoon - the sun will wreck havoc on your images.
#4 LOOK LIKE YOU BELONG THERE - i wear a safari hat and a safari vest. also i put a luggage name card hanging with a picture ( ID) from my lens.. the people think i work there and gladly let me up front / move out of my way. if you bring a notebook / pencils they think you are researching and tend to watch you instead of the animals. buy a zoo employee shirt and wear it - i do!!

there you go - 4 things i'd advise that maybe you wouldnt think of. they tend to work for me but past performance is not a true indicator of future performance.

HERE ARE A FEW SUGGESTIONS FROM THE INTERNET -



\
Take Great Photos at the Zoo: Photography Tips Courtesy Of
The New York Institute Of Photography ......



We've all seen those great photos taken on safari -- the charging rhino, the soulful eyes of a gorilla staring into the camera, the huge teeth of a yawning tiger, the baby elephant and its mother. Taken in Africa? Perhaps. But did you know that many great animal shots can be taken right around the corner at your local zoo or wildlife conservation park?

"There are lots of good reasons to photograph at the zoo," says NYI Dean Chuck DeLaney.The animals make better subjects because they are probably in better condition and therefore more photogenic than they are in the wild. You don't have to spend days pounding the bush just to catch a glimpse of the animal you are tracking. You can arrange to go on your backyard safari on a day when the weather is perfect, and you don't need to be concerned about your subject matter looking upon you as a food source. And, best of all, you can get close to the animal and wait for the perfect shot."

DeLaney points out that with fast film (ISO 400 or higher) and a telephoto lens (even the "zoomed in" setting on your 35-115mm point-and-shoot camera) you can get those award-winning photos in the "wild." Here's some specific shooting tips from the New York Institute of Photography (NYI), the world's largest photography school.


* Go early when the weather is cool and the crowds are not there yet. You will find most animals to be more active early in the morning.
* Get in tight so that the animal's face fills the frame of your picture as much as possible. Then, with a little patience, wait for an expression. A photo of an alligator showing his big teeth makes a much more interesting picture than if his mouth were closed.
* Try using a flash to create catch lights in the eyes of your subjects. A flash also comes in handy when you are shooting animals on display behind glass. Just remember to shoot at an angle through the glass rather than head on to avoid catching the glare from your flash in your photo.
* Use a tripod to get rock steady, knife-sharp images. Remember, a long lens may force you to shoot with a slow shutter speed. Use a tripod to avoid any possibility of camera shake.
* If you are shooting with an SLR, use a wide open shutter speed of f/2.8 or larger if possible. By using selective focus, you will be able to eliminate distracting elements in the foreground and background like fake rocks or bars.


Finally, remember NYI's Three Guidelines for Better Photographs.

Guideline One is to know what you want to be the subject of your picture before you look through the viewfinder.

Guideline Two is to focus attention on your subject. You can do this by filling the frame with the animal.

Guideline Three is to simplify the photo by eliminating distracting elements like cages.

MORE INFO HERE!!!!


To avoid clutter - change angle. Don't let the amusing antics of your subject lull you into shooting against a bad background. Remember the three NYI Guidelines. Remember you want to create the illusion of the wild. If you can see anything in the viewfinder that distracts, eliminate it. Chances are if you move just a few feet in either direction, it will disappear.


To avoid clutter - use selective focus. As we noted before, one of the advantages of a wide aperture is that you can employ a narrow depth of field to toss the background out of focus. This can be a real help in creating the illusion of the wild - for example, let's say there's a concrete background that's designed to look like real rocks. If the background is sharp, it looks fake and you know the animal is in the zoo. By using selective focus, you can throw the concrete "rocks" out of focus and make them look more real.



Pick your weather. Don't give up just because it's cloudy. You may be able to get better shots on a cloudy day of animals against a background filled with glare, like water or light-colored rocks. And if the weather's bad, you'll probably be less concerned with crowds of visitors. In fact, when the weather's downright "lousy," you may be able to get some great shots - in rain or snow there will be almost no other visitors, and the inclement weather can create a sense of nature that helps add to the "illusion" of the wild. Of course, there's nothing wrong with sunny weather for these pictures; just make sure the animals don't squint!





Flash for catch lights. Those small white dots in the eyes of people are part of what give life to a portrait. Photographers call them "catch lights." Those same catch lights give emphasis to the eyes of animals as well.



Using a flash also helps photograph animals that are on display behind glass, like the snake shown here. The trick is to avoid the reflection of glare off the glass. To avoid this glare, shoot at an angle through the glass instead of head on. Remember the old angle-of-incidence equals angle-of-reflection rule. Make sure the reflection is thrown outside your image. If you shoot head on, the glare will be thrown right back into the lens - and your picture will be ruined.


People aren't always in the way. There are times that the interaction of humans with animals and vice versa tells a story in its own right. Don't always avoid people in your photos. Sometimes they can add a depth and dimension that adds to the picture.



Feeding time and other special times. The sea lions in Central Park know when it's feeding time and they love to perform for their keepers and for the appreciative audiences that gather three times a day. In many zoos there are some animals, including new born babies, that are only on view for a limited amount of time. Make sure you know the schedule for these photo opportunities.
Expressions. Professional portrait photographers often cite the "E.S.P. Rule." That means Expressions Sell Pictures. The same thing applies to zoo animals. If the bear is sleeping, or just standing, or day dreaming, you don't have as exciting a photo as you do if the bear is growling, yawning, or otherwise active and expressing her character.


If you follow our tips and visit your local zoo frequently, you'll have a lot of fun and take lots of great zoo photos!

Reprinted with permission from the New York Institute of Photography website at http://www.nyip.com
*

Copyright 2005
GarLyn Zoological Park,Inc.
Hwy 2 Naubinway, MI. 49762
(906)477-1085
www.garlynzoo.com





Last edited by windoze; Apr-07-2005 at 01:07 PM.
Old Apr-07-2005, 12:22 PM
#2
KevinKal is offline KevinKal
Major grins
Troy,

Great post, thank you very much for the information. I too love to see your pictures and they certainly contain many of the qualities described in the guidelines. Having lived in the city for several years, I finally made it over to the Bronx zoo and loved the Tiger exhibit (your pics of them are phenomenal by the way). I'll post one that I took at the end of my post.

Question for you: I use the trusty Sony 717, a tripod and a Sunpak 383 flash. Could you describe in a little more detail how you employ your flash? For example, angle of the flash, flash level, metering, etc... Incidentally, I'm in Vienna, Austria for a few weeks and see that they have "the World's Oldest Zoo". I can't wait to get out there and see what they've got!

Cheers,
Kevin K.

Old Apr-07-2005, 01:12 PM
#3
windoze is offline windoze OP
a life long newbie
windoze's Avatar
i have to honest with you - in the whole time ive owned my 20D i dont think i ever used a flash with animals at a zoo. there is info in the above post about using a flash but BETTER YET - maybe Shay will handle that for me.......... thanx for the nice compliment, ive been lucky.






Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinKal
Troy,

Great post, thank you very much for the information. I too love to see your pictures and they certainly contain many of the qualities described in the guidelines. Having lived in the city for several years, I finally made it over to the Bronx zoo and loved the Tiger exhibit (your pics of them are phenomenal by the way). I'll post one that I took at the end of my post.

Question for you: I use the trusty Sony 717, a tripod and a Sunpak 383 flash. Could you describe in a little more detail how you employ your flash? For example, angle of the flash, flash level, metering, etc... Incidentally, I'm in Vienna, Austria for a few weeks and see that they have "the World's Oldest Zoo". I can't wait to get out there and see what they've got!

Cheers,
Kevin K.

Old Apr-07-2005, 02:37 PM
#4
Steve Cavigliano is offline Steve Cavigliano
SmugFlash
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Excellent info Troy


Thank you very much for taking the time to put this together and for posting it I'm sure many people will benefit from your shared experience


Thanks again,
Steve
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Old Apr-07-2005, 02:47 PM
#5
4labs is offline 4labs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Cavigliano
Excellent info Troy


Thank you very much for taking the time to put this together and for posting it I'm sure many people will benefit from your shared experience


Thanks again,
Steve
Took the words right out of my mouth. If it weren't for your posts Troy I would never had made it to the zoo this winter. Thnxs again.
Old Apr-07-2005, 02:54 PM
#6
John Mueller is offline John Mueller
Long Shots
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Thanks Troy.You be the zoo man for sure

I know we have a zoo around here somewhere,but you have to go through a zoo to get there
I havent been since I was a young man with small children.
Your posts have made be think of going again.
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Old Apr-17-2005, 01:47 PM
#7
Andy is offline Andy
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excellent post, troy.

troy also knows the secrets of getting the animals' attention, that helps, too

i'll add: *join* your local zoo, so you can go often, and cheaply. plus the staff gets to know you...
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