There’s nothing like taking photos of the world’s greatest beasts as they roam about in their natural habitat, but it’s not always possible.

This is basically why we have zoos. And not only do they provide animal lovers and photographers a chance to get close up images of their favorite creatures, the institutions are also very educational.

If you don’t have the chance to see animals in their natural surroundings the next best thing is to take your camera along with you and head out to the nearest zoo. You’ll be able to capture some wonderful images of the world’s most exotic animals all in one location. You won’t even need to take much in the way of accessories and camera gear.

Safety Always Comes First When Taking Photos at the Zoo

If you have some type of zoom lens, say up to 300 mm, that can certainly help you out. But other than that you really just need to make sure you have enough batteries and memory available. A tripod could help you out if the zoo allows them and you don’t mind carrying it. When taking photos at the zoo you just need to remember that safety always comes first and you also need to respect the rules and the rights of other visitors.

This means you should never enter an animal’s domain, harass or tease an animal, and block the views of other visitors. Remember, many animals in a zoo are wild. They’re not all trained to be docile and they’re definitely not all big, lovable and cuddly pets. While they may all look friendly and harmless, many zoo animals can be deadly. Therefore, you should never put any part of your body or camera through, over, or under a fence, cage, or partition.

If there is any problem with taking photos at zoos, it is usually just to do with the backgrounds and foregrounds. You don’t really want to show the bars of a cage in front of the animal as well as fake backgrounds. When it comes to the background in the image you can always blur it by opting for a shallow depth of field, which will keep your subject sharp and in focus.

Also, if you can shoot from a higher angle you can cut down on the background and hopefully it will just show grass. You may also be able to cut down on the background when getting down lower to the ground when taking your photos. In addition, if the portraits are tightly framed then you won’t capture too much background and manmade items. Of course, you can always edit and manipulate your zoo photos later on in a digital photo-editing program.

If you have to take the photos through glass, you may get reflections and/or glare. Try to stay away from this by trying out different angles and not using flash. If you have no choice but to use a flash then it should be one with a tilt head as it will allow you to alter the angle of the light when it reflects off of the glass. You could also use a diffuser with the flash and then turn the camera to a better angle.

It’s always a good idea to check out the schedule at the zoo to see when the animals are fed. The animals are usually pretty active at feeding time and provide a great opportunity to capture some excellent images.


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