I have to admit that I am like a child in a candy store when let loose at the zoo! So many amazing animals to photograph...I can easily lose a day wandering between the exhibits and being amazed by the beauty of the animals. It doesn't matter where we travel if there is a zoo I have to go!
Recently we visited Sydney and even though I have already been to Taronga zoo I just had to go again! For anyone who hasn't been I can highly recommend it, the setting is breathtaking with a ferry ride across the harbour then a gondola ride to the top of the hill with spectacular views of the Sydney harbour, Opera House and Bridge.
Sydney Harbour and Opera House as seen from Taronga Zoo
There is a large array of animals to view and learn about, everything from Australian natives to giraffes, seals and alligators, there is a timetable of feeding times and animal shows all of which offer a unique encounter with the animal and an informative talk about them. We were lucky enough to catch the Seal show on our trip and learnt some interesting facts and saw a great performance.
Seal Smiling During the Seal Show
So my top tips for great photos at the zoo
1. Lens choice - you will need a zoom lens, I took my 70-200mm and found it was quite adequate most of the time although if you have a longer zoom lens you may wish to use it.
2. Shutter speed - Will need to be fast for moving animals, I would suggest no slower than 1/500s to keep images sharp. This will also correlate to the amount of zoom you have for example if you are hand holding a 200mm lens you will need to shoot at 1/200s or above to ensure sharp images. If you have a heavy lens and find it hard to hold it steady you may find a monopod useful.
3. Patience - It is likely that you won't nail the shot in the first couple of minutes, occasionally it happens but it is more usual that you will have to wait for people to move on from the exhibit or wait for the animal to move to a better position. Set up the shot and wait, you will need to keep concentration and wait it out. Sometimes it just won't happen and you will have to move on to the next exhibit and hope for better luck.
4. Look for unique angles and challenge yourself. I love to photograph Pelicans but decided to try something different with this shot by choosing to get in close and focus on the bird's eye and face. Often you will be rewarded with a great shot if you take a moment to look for a different angle or point of view.
5. Don't forget to have fun and enjoy the animals! After all that is why we visit zoos. Probably even more important to remember to always respect the animals and not get too close or make them feel frightened or uncomfortable.
What is your favourite animal to photograph at the zoo?