My 10 years old girl is in vacation of school for the Christmas and new years weeks and she wanted to visit our local ZOO, the Ecomuseum of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, which is a short drive from my home. It’s not a big ZOO but always fun to go with the kids and they made some improvements this year to the enclosures of some of their animals.
Even in a ZOO i like to use long lenses to concentrate on the animal and not showing the enclosure, so for all the photos posted here i used my Canon 7D with my 400mm/5.6 L. I always try to get as natural looking photos as i can. But in some occasions i did exactly the opposite and showed the fences, not this time, probably next time i will try to do that and show the animals against their limits.
This week i didn’t had much time so i will post a photo i took when we visited an Ecomuseum on Easter day with my family. The ZOO keepers showed animals to the public and we were able to get very close and learn about the animals.
Photographing animals in a Zoo is not like being in the wild, but if you’re ready to accept photos taken in a Zoo as a chance to get close-ups of hard to find or get close to animals, then you can get some great shots.
One of the hardest thing in a Zoo is trying to compose your shots without showing the fences or other human made structures unless you want them to be part of your composition. I use a long lens near wide open aperture, i shoot with my 400mm at f/5.6 and if i can stop down when the background allow me i will use f/8 to get some depth of field.
I prefer an overcast day to shoot in a Zoo because the fences can be very reflective when the sun hit them and they can show in your photos even if they are out of focus. Sunny days can be good also if you can avoid fences and go early or late during the day. By placing your lens as close as possible against the fence and using a wide aperture the fence betweem your camera and your subject will become invisible in your photos. When doing this i use manual focus because the AF of the camera can pick-up focus on the fence instead of on your subject.
Winter is a good time to go also, snow will cover the ugly ground often found in the enclosure of the animals, your subjects will have their winter coat on as well. Falling snow can add atmosphere and give a different look to your photos.
Shoot a lot and have fun, you never know when you will get a great shot !
Both shots taken at the ZOO Ecomuseum of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue on the West Island side of Montreal.
Pentax K20D, Pentax-67 M*400mm/4, at f/5.6, Tripod.