Tuesday, March 09, 2010

At the zoo


Zoos. Gotta love 'em. Gotta hate 'em. Sometimes I think the last design consideration, if it was made at all, was to photography. Zoos are rotten places to try to get photos of the inhabitants. I kept bumping into the limits of my equipment at the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison Wisconsin. It's not just that particular zoo, I've spent plenty of frustrated moments at zoos all over the country.

Poor light. Even worse color balance of that poor light. Reflective glass. Bars in the way. Argh.

The shot of the tiger was taken through thick, bluish, scratch-covered glass while the big fella paced through the snow near a chain link fence. Most of the time, I try to eliminate all vestiges of captivity when framing up a zoo shot. I watched the big cat pace back and forth and noticed he made a turn at a particular spot in his enclosure. I framed up that spot with a telephoto zoom lens(200mm) through a not so reflective area of the glass and shot several passes of the cat. The best shot had a split exposure -- the part of the tiger below his nose was partially obscured by a reflection in the window. Photoshop to the rescue.

Other times, I try to make it very apparent that the subject is in captivity.


For the most part, I stick a 55-200 zoom on the camera and leave it there. It gives me the ability to be selective with my focus.

This time out, I brought along a flash unit. Fitted it with a wireless trigger and had my wife act as a voice-activated light stand, holding the flash unit off to the side while I shot away indoors. It worked out quite nicely. Those pics to follow.

Photographs © 2010 James Jordan.


Christy said...

I so completely understand this frustration. Having made many zoo visits this past summer, I hate the lighting issues the most. And yes photoshop is a great fallback for some of these problems. Great shot of the tiger.

Wanda said...

Stunning! The last time I was at the Zoo, trying to get a picture of an elephant.....he just kept turning around, so I got 10 pictures of a large elephant's butt!!

You do much better!! :)

Tulsa Gentleman said...

Photoshop or not, that is a nice crisp shot of the tiger.