Your Creativity in a Slump? - Photowalk Your Local Zoo

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We all get in a creative slump from time to time. I absolutely loathe when it happens to me. I will search high and low for inspiration and still nothing moves me to create or be creative. Over the years I think I have found a method to help turn things around. First thing I recommend is to walk away from the camera for a bit.. That’s right, put your camera away in its bag, and leave it in closet. Give yourself time to let your batteries recharge for a bit. Once you given yourself a little break, you’ll need a way to get your creative juices flowing again.

Start slowly, and let’s start refilling your well of inspirational juices. There are some great documentaries on Netflix.

Here are 10 great documentaries every photographer should watch on Netflix.

Ok.. feeling inspired yet? Not quite there? Time to get your camera and head to your local zoo. I bet you haven’t been to a zoo since you were a kid. trust me on this one. There’s no place better to jump start those creative juices.

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.

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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.

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Shooting Thru Fences

Unfortunately today, most zoo displays are behind ugly chain-link fences, or even worse plexiglass windows. All is not lost, you can still get a quality shot by using a simple camera technique. When forced to shoot thru a fence, use a large aperture to shoot directly through fences.  The trick is to get your lens as close to the fence as possible. I mean get your camera lens right on it. 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. Try it, it really works.. Unless you like shots like this ugly mess below.. :-)
 

 Photo By:  Matt Sarah    Had Matt positioned his camera closer to the fence and used a larger aperture, this fence would have completely disappeared from the shot.

Photo By: Matt Sarah

Had Matt positioned his camera closer to the fence and used a larger aperture, this fence would have completely disappeared from the shot.

  Shot directly through a chain-link fence using the technique described above.

Shot directly through a chain-link fence using the technique described above.

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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!