5 Tips to take good picture at Zoo

5 Tips to take good picture at Zoo

5 Tips to take good picture at Zoo

Visits to the zoo are a good source of inspiration for photographers, but can be frustrating as there are many obstacles: windows, cold and artificial lighting, fencing, crowd, little natural scenery, etc. Many of you ask me questions about the photograph at the zoo. So I'm going to reveal my little personal techniques to circumvent these problems or to accommodate. I'll even show you what not to do Here are 5 tips from my experience.;)

1. How to snap through the bars and fences?
Here is "my recipe", the technique I use to remove the bars or mesh. It is necessary :

1. Approach the bar or wire mesh,
and try to place the lens maximum between the bars.

2. Favor a low depth of field
so that the bars can be found as far as possible in the gray area, and therefore almost invisible. To reduce the depth of field, select the mode Priority Aperture. This mode is called A or Av depending on the brand. Then select a big opening when choosing a figure F / that is as small as possible. Example: F.3.5, F / 2.8, F / 1.4, etc.

3. Choose a long lens
In other words, "zoom". Indeed, the focal length also affects the depth of field and therefore the importance of vagueness.

4. Choose the animal's position
If possible, shoot an animal that is away from the fence. Obviously, you have little leverage to dictate to an animal laying that would suit you ;) but sometimes it is simply to spot repetitive motion of the beast (back-and-forth for example) to photograph when she is far from the bars.

The purpose of these 4 maneuvers is to place as much as possible the fence in the gray area to make it as invisible as possible.

Proof by example

Toucan yolk Beauval Zoo © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo
The Toco Toucan was very close to the fence, in front and behind him. Result, even by placing the fence in the dark, it remains visible and forms a frame that blurs vision. 
Fujinon 55-200mm F / 3.5-4.8 at 95mm (140mm equivalent) - 1/400 - F / 4-800 ISO. 
Beauval Zoo © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo
Toucan yolk Beauval Zoo © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo
This Toucan yolk was further from the fence. By applying the technique described above, I put away most of the fence. It remains a small part, to the right in the foreground, but it forms a green fuzzy task which no doubt that this is a fence. Rather we believe in a leaf or grass placed in the foreground. 
Fujinon 55-200mm F / 3.5-4.8 to 105mm (160mm equivalent) - 1/250 - F / 4.2 - 800 ISO. 
Beauval Zoo © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo

2. How to snap through the windows?
Obviously, photographed through glass is easier than through the bars or mesh. But there are two big pitfalls: the tasks on the glass, and above all the reflections!

How to remove stains on the glass?
The problem of tasks is that they act as a filter on the image, which appears blurred. The first thing to do is of course to move to try to find a place without a job, or with less duties. If you do not have another way to photograph through a dirty glass, then use the same technique as for the bars that of the shallow depth of field: put yourself in priority fashion to the opening ( a or Av) and zoom (to use a long focal length).

How to work around the problem of reflections in the glass?
The reflections can come from the sun or lighting but also (most actually), other visitors passing by the window. If you have at your disposal a polarizing filter, use it, because it significantly reduces the effects of reflection. If you do not, then aim at your subject, and in your sight, watch the highlights. It is now a waiting game: do not move, and wait for visitors in your back go their way, or so expect a visitor dressed in dark. The reflection will make it much less visible.

Finally, if really it is impossible to eliminate glare, so make sure you integrate your framing! It's easier than it sounds.

Proof by example
Here's an example, photographed at Beauval zoo. The crowd was so dense that it was impossible to avoid reflections of the visitors, despite my patience. So I chose to integrate these reflections, provided they do not spoil me: a beautiful green snake. So we see the reflection of a busy dressed in white, but is positioned so that it fits the decor. If you do not know, we do not notice:

Green tree python, Beauval Zoo © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo
The white coat of a visitor is reflected in the branch located in the top of the image. Result: this branch already more exposed to light as the rest of the picture is made ​​even whiter by the reflection (I can of course edit the problem in post-processing, but I wanted to show you the effect of reflection ). This reflection is also the head of the snake, but when one is not aware, it is interpreted rather as an effect of light piercing the foliage. 
Fujinon 55-200mm F / 3.5-4.8 to 135mm (200mm equivalent) - 1/125 - F / 5 - ISO 800. 
Python arboreal green, Beauval zoo © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo

Here is a second example, where will you find the reflections on the glass in this picture are? ;)

Nile Crocodile Beauval Zoo © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo
Remaining patiently positioned in the release position, I waited for the right time to the reflections of the visitors do not cover my subject a Nile crocodile. Where are the highlights? In the lower part of the image: that could be taken for weeds in the foreground blur is actually fingerprints and reflections of visitors passing in my back. My technique has helped to create an effective illusion Fujinon 55-200mm F / 3.5-4.8 to 165mm (250mm equivalent) - 1/125 - F / 5 -. 800 ISO Beauval Zoo © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo:)
Also, remember to use the aforementioned technical (shallow depth of field + long focal length) in order to blur the reflection maximum.

3. How to arrange with the decor? / What you should not do
In zoos, the decor is not always very credible nor flattering. The decor of the enclosure itself, but sometimes the surrounding landscape.

All played at framing
Do well around your viewfinder, and do not integrate as part (even in the background) elements such as the door of the enclosure, a poorly imitated rock fences, visitors, a bowl food, or the houses in the distance, the sandwich of the zoo, the service door to the bottom of the enclosure, etc. Here are some examples of what not to do:

Silverback gorilla, zoo Beauval © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo
Unless you want to just witness the living conditions of the animal in its enclosure, this photo is the perfect example not to follow, that of an uninteresting picture.

1. Include the decor completely out of the viewer animal atmosphere (fake jungle in the background, grid ceiling, wood modules, cables, etc.). The more we will focus only on the animal's beauty because its environment takes an important place in the image. But even if the zoo has made ​​efforts to make a beautiful decor, picture it still gives an artificial tone to the image. Unless expressly desire to show this setting, it is better to avoid as much to include in the frame.

2. Reflections visitors in the window superimposed on the animal (one distinguishes especially yellow and red spots).

3. Right bottom, there are in the foreground blur the white hair of a visitor. Fujinon 55-200mm F / 3.5-4.8 75mm (110mm equivalent) - 1/125 - F / 3.7 - 500 ISO. Gorilla silverback, Beauval zoo © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo ;)
Moorhen, zoo Bourbansais © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo
The reflection in the water of a timber module imitating a tree in the compound monkeys totally disrupts the composition of the image (by the effect of a big stain on the image). He would simply move to avoid this pitfall Sigma 70-200mm F / 2.8 at 200mm - 1/1600 - F / 4.5 - 500 ISO. Moorhen, zoo Bourbansais © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo ;)
Capuchin (or "Sapajou"), zoo Bourbansais © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo
The position of the monkey is interesting, the framing is good, except for a big detail: visitors staying in the background, behind the Capuchin, which totally out of the viewer the animal atmosphere. 
Sigma 70-200mm F /2.8 to 200mm - 1/1600 - F / 6.3 - 320 ISO. 
Zoo Bourbansais © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo
These examples you may seem obvious, but unfortunately a lot of people do not pay attention to these details. Sometimes attention you lose a little and concentrate on animals, we forget to check the environment, including the background.

But when they appear in the image, these elements completely out of the viewer animal atmosphere and make the difference between a good photo and a totally banal picture.

4. What focal priority for the photo at the zoo?
You'll understand when reading the above lines, I suggest you long focal lengths , to isolate your subject from the surrounding scenery, and minimize the visual impact of windows or bars. Opt therefore of focal lengths from 100mm and more: 150mm, 200mm or 300mm if you can when I go to the zoo, I photograph personally with: > a Sigma 70-200mm F / 2.8 when using my Nikon D3s DSLR, > with a 55-200mm Fujinon F / 3.5-4.8 (82-300mm equivalent on full frame sensor ) when using my hybrid Fuji X-E1 .

5. How to photograph animals?
Attitudes. It is important to be patient not to randomly shoot an animal. Not until an interesting attitude: a movement, a look, a funny or touching expression. This is a key point to get interesting pictures. Here are some examples :

White rhinos Beauval Zoo © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo
Two white rhinos seemed to cause the Beauval Zoo. I waited a quarter of an hour, and indeed the two giants clashed. When one started to load the other, I had to react quickly. The attack was not particularly dramatic, but instead it was brief ;) The framing is tight to avoid seeing the decor, including a background in catering kiosk Fujinon 55-200mm F / 3.5-4.8 to 180mm ( 270mm equivalent) - 1/250 - F / 4.7 - 200 ISO. © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo ;)
Maki Lemur Kata, zoo Champrepus © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo
By observing the many well-maki kata together in a pen (only limited by a rope that one ;)), I noticed this individual to the very funny posture. He cleaned his tail, but by the time operated breaks by freezing, thus giving the impression that he blew his nose in his tail ;) Or he was holding a cuddly toy as a child ;) I waited a few minutes he resumes this position to take my picture. 
Sigma 70-200mm F / 2.8 at 135mm - 1/1250 - F / 8-500 ISO. 
lemur Maki Kata, zoo Champrepus © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo
Loup, reserve Nordens Ark, Sweden © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo
In the darkness of a huge wolf pens, late in the day, a wolf stealthily happening repeatedly. So I set my goal between the bars of the fence, and I wait for the right time, a few minutes later, the animal returns and sets me straight in the goal: it is a good time to start! 
Sigma 70-200mm F / 2.8 at 170mm - F.2.8 - 1/160 - ISO 800 
Reserve Nordens Ark, Sweden © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo
Cheetah, Zoo Champrepus © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo
Photographing animals yawn is not very difficult, and the result is always breathtaking. Big cats often yawn. Just prepare your camera to a fast shutter speed to freeze the motion (for example by choosing the "Shutter Priority" mode (S or TV)), and to be observant! 
Sigma 70-200mm F / 2.8 - 1/640 - F / 6.3 -. 500 ISO 
Cheetah, zoo Champrepus © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo

The details
For a pleasant change, consider talking photograph or graphic detail. Two examples:

The powerful hand of a silverback gorilla, Beauval Zoo © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo
Focus on massive hand of a silverback gorilla, Beauval Zoo. We guess the power of the animal. 
Fujinon 55-200mm F / 3.5-4.8 to 150mm (225mm equivalent) - 1 / 125- F / 4.5 -. 500 ISO 
© Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo
5 Tips to get good photograph at Zoo
Focus on very graphic patterns of plumage of a brahma chicken mesh silver partridge. Zoo Champrepus. 
Sigma 70-200mm F / 2.8 - 1/1600 - F / 4.5 - 500 ISO © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo

Be creative
If the decor or crowd you being able to take the animal as you'd hoped, operate your creativity by imagining other possibilities. One example of original framing:

5 Tips to get good photograph at Zoo
This cheetah came to stick to the glass and stared at something in the distance, beautifully ignorant visitors glued to 3cm him on the other side of the glass. 3 elements bothered me: the background whose decor was unnatural, fingerprints on the glass, and visitors clustered around me. So I applied my technique to circumvent problems of the decor and the glass (but I was so close that all is not obscured), and I especially chose to try a different framing, suggesting symmetry face and "drawings" of the coat of this magnificent animal. Finally, I have of course made ​​the setting-in point on the eye because her look is striking. 

Note the lovely bokeh in the background Sigma 70-200mm F / 2.8 - 1/1640 - F / 5.0 - 500 ISO © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo Cheetah, zoo Champrepus © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo
Think of the post-processing from the view-to-grip can sometimes be more creative and come out different images:

5 Tips to get good photograph at Zoo
This leopard was in a ray of sunshine at the bottom of its cage. Three problems: the fence in the foreground, the unprepossessing decor (we saw the enclosure wall and the bottom of the back door), and the big difference in brightness between light and shadow. So I decided to underexpose voluntarily so that the shaded area becomes very dark. This will hide in the dark decor and "remnants" of fence in the foreground. Finally, I corrected a little exposure in animals at post-treatment, so that it is correctly exposed. 
Sigma 70-200mm F / 2.8 at 200mm - 1/1600 - F / 5.6 - 320 ISO. 
Leopard , zoo Bourbansais © Clement Racineux / Tonton Photo
And of course, also consider photographing the details to circumvent a complicated situation ! (I mentioned earlier)

In summary
In summary, out of pretty pictures from your visits to the zoo: > review it well your understanding of the depth of field , and the impact of focal thereon (by reading this article ), > prefer long lenses, > Think "animal photo" in tracking attitudes, looks, >, and the most important advice: treat your framing! Do not include items annoying reading the image, especially in the background.

I hope these tips will have you informed and even inspired! If you have any plans this weekend, so-programming a small photographic trip to the zoo! If you have other tips learned from your experience, share them in the comments! If you have any questions, ask them in comments also. Source and image by; http://tontonphoto.fr/
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