42nd Street Photo’s Tips of Shooting at the Zoo

The most common challenges when shooting at the zoo are always the fences and the cages. Besides that, the photo subjects rarely stay still, plus the lighting may be tricky.

How to overcome these inconvenients? Simply read 42nd Street Photo’s tips below and try to incorporate them into your photography style, when the opportunity to shoot in a zoo presents.

For starters, equipment is the most important factor that would greatly influence the photos you’ll be taking. This usually varies from one photographer to another, but you don’t have to be a pro to take good shots of your subjects, be it the most ferocious beasts or the funniest monkeys. A DSLR camera with a longer focal length lens or a point and shoot digital camera with a 10-12x optical zoom would do.

Use a tripod as the lighting may not be the best one. You’d need to use a slower shutter speed which requires extra stability.

A lens hood is recommended also, as you may have to shoot in the direct light of the sun. Not having it can significantly impact your photos’ quality.

Now that we’ve covered the equipment part, you should focus on these steps:

  1. When shooting through wired fences, try finding a wider gap into the fence and getting as close as you can. Don’t forget to switch to manual focus so you can fully control what’s in and out of your focus. Choose a larger aperture and wait for your subject to move back. If you take photos with a point and shoot camera and can’t use aperture, switch to portrait mode which uses a wide aperture and narrows your depth of field (DOF).
  2. Glass cages aren’t always unavoidable. When you shoot through glass, wipe it with a cloth, try to look for the least scratched spot and avoid reflections by taking photos at right angles to the glass.
  3. We’ve said that before and we’ll say it again. Get close and get down! It’s important to capture the closer details of your subject to give a feeling of intimacy to your photos. It’s challenging with the animal in the cage, and you’ll need a long focal length lens, but taking up close photos is doable.
  4. Be patient as your subject may not be in the desired pose for the shot. So take your time once you’ve decided which animals you want to photograph. Capturing the variety of animals’ positions and expressions will take your photos to the next level.
  5. Capture humorous situations. Animals always create them and you don’t want to miss them. Practice and have fun!
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