Zoos are fabulous places to shoot and with so much access now to get great shots, a much cheaper alternative to a wildlife safari. Always wise to do some research before you go – what are the main attractions ? which animals do you really want to capture – plan in advance.
Note on equipment – some zoos’s DO NOT allow tri-pod’s – so check in advance – just in case. Be sensible as well about how much equipment you do take – it can be a long old day in the field if you are carting an excessive amount of equipment round with you.
As a general tip, look for feeding times – make sure you are there ready. This is a great time to catch the animals out and about. Early morning is also good, the lighting is not so harsh and therefore the animals tend to be a bit more active.
I’ve said this 100 times before – but animal photography is the same as any other – FOCUS ON THE EYES – as long as they are in focus, it doesn’t matter too much about the other parts.
A word about bars……pain in the neck they are………if you can, press as close to the cage as you can, dial in the lowest f number you can and then focus on the animal. Hopefully, this should eliminate most of the bars as the camera will effectively just see through it. NOTE this wont work if the animal is too close to the bars – like in a bird park for example.
Backgrounds can also be annoying, so either blur out or crop in. The other option is to try and re-frame so that your subject is set against either the floor or sky.
Sometimes you will be shooting through glass, which can cause problems and reflections. Try to find the right angle to eliminate the reflection where you can. A polarizing filter can also help to cut down the amount of reflection. Don’t forget to wipe off any finger prints or smudges on the glass as well.
And finally……please remember that other guests at the zoo have paid the same amount as you……just because you might have the fanciest camera, doesn’t give you special rights.