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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Zoo Photography Tips


Are you really happy with the photographs you took last time you went to your favorite zoo?
There are some basic tips to improve your outdoor photography experience:
1. Fill the Frame
Some animal exhibits are nicer than others, but even in the nicest one, photography composition can be tricky. Sometimes either the angle is a little complicated, or there is a fence to remind us that these animals are in a zoo and not in the wild. So when this happens, the best advice is to zoom in or crop the image so you will fill the frame with the animal and not what is around it.
2. Capture Animals' Interaction with Each Other
Portraits are nice, however the cutest images are when you see a family together. Mom's tenderness for her baby is always a good reminder of love in the animal kingdom. There are also happy gestures among siblings or other family members as well.
3. Try Different Angles
When we approach to a new animal exhibit, we always think first of the most obvious composition, but moving around is the key to open a lot more possibilities.
Some animal exhibits are great because they allow you to move a lot around the animals and maybe you will have to squat to be at their eye level, but squatting pays off!
4. Choose the Zoo Carefully
The best zoos for photography are definitely modern. They have to have nice decorations, with sceneries of plants, rocks or even sand that match the specific place some animals live.
5. Quality VS Quantity
It is easy to enter a zoo and want to see it all. That is a good idea for a first visit. However, if you want to get cool photographs, you must limit yourself to spend more time with few animals. That is how you make sure you get really good shots.
6. Be Patient and the Animal May Look at You
These beautiful creatures are cute when they are sleeping, eating, playing... but I have to admit that it is magical when they look at the camera.
Patience is really a virtue when photographing animals. Please behave and don't shout at them or start jumping or waving to get their attention. That does not help anybody. I've seen people doing that and animals walking away or turning around. I think some of these beautiful beings are used to be annoyed by that, so they just ignore that kind of human behavior.
My advice is to stay still and quiet, and they might be curious at some point and look straight at you with sweet eyes.
7. Avoid Crowds
Animals are annoyed by crowds, and when this happens they just go hide. So choose wisely the day and time of day when you go to the zoo. If going on weekends is more convenient for you, just go in the morning. Try go as soon as they open the zoo, besides you will get photographs with the best light.
8. Focus on the Eyes
People say the eyes are the window to the soul and that could be the very essence of a picture. Camera manufacturers know that and that is why the latest equipments detect the eyes in their automatic portrait modes. This function helps people to get better shots.
Some animals have unique eyes and it is important to have that part of the photo sharp focused.
9. Animal Textures
Sometimes animals won't do much. Sometimes they are resting in a position that it just does not look nice for a photograph. So what can we do about it? Well... since we cannot persuade them to pose for our camera, we have to pay attention on what we are looking at. What if we do a close up so we can capture textures?
Those texture photographs can be beautiful. You could be surprised by how nice they look and if you do that, you will see a different beauty in animals.
10. Zoo Etiquette for Photographers
Photography is welcome in most zoos, but you need to follow these etiquette guidelines:
  1. Respect the animals.
  2. Do not flash the animals.
  3. Do not get in the way of other visitors while taking photos.
  4. Stay behind any barriers and stay in the public areas at all times.
  5. Check if the zoo allows the use of tripods at their premises. Some zoos just allow monopods.
  6. Photos for personal use. You need your zoo's permission for selling photographs taken there.
Some of these guidelines may seem common sense, but it is not always the case. I'm sure this will help you next time you to the zoo.

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