Zoos are fascinating places, and I think zoos are great locations to take a photowalk. The zoo is a great place to explore interesting animals as well as chance to practice your photography skills. They provide us with a great variety of subjects, both animals as well as people. Zoos also afford photographers a chance to get very close to wild animals for close up photography without a lot of expensive equipment.
Tips for great photos at the Zoo
Early mornings and late afternoons are always best. Mid-day shots tend to be harsh and wash out the colors. Depending on the exact direction of the sun, it can shadow portions of the face, especially the eyes on many species. Early mornings and late afternoons are also the times of day when wildlife is most active resulting in opportunities to film the species in active modes.
Challenges - Shooting through glass
Now a days with safety concerns every where, you'll eventually be faced with having to shoot behind glass in a zoo. At first this might put you off but it really shouldn’t. Shooting through glass can be done with great results, as long as you practice the technique. It all comes down to keeping the lens tight against the glass (remove the lens hood) and minimize the light coming in between the lens and the glass. If you have a shirt or some other cloth you might also wrap this around the lens to get least possible amount of light creep. The idea here is to minimize reflections.
With wildlife photography, when capturing images of single animals the face is the focal point. On the face, the eyes become the most important feature. They capture the expression of each individual. Watch your framing. Whatever you are photographing should represent at least 80% of the picture. If you are attempting to do a head or face shot, zoom in until it fills most of the frame. If you are doing a whole body shot, make sure the feet or tail is not cut off.
Shooting Thru Fences
When forced to shoot thru a fence, use a large aperture to shoot through fences. Get your lens as close to the fence as possible. Being that close, your camera will not be able to focus or even see the fence. By using a large aperture, your lens is able to capture light wrapping around the fence and it will be practically unnoticeable in the photo.
Shoot People At The Zoo
Shoot the People. People make great subjects when at the zoo. Don’t just focus on the animals but look for the wonderful reactions of those around you as they react to the animals. Sometimes the people can be more animated than the animals as they mimic them.
And remember most of all have fun. Happy Shooting!