Off to the zoo

January 28, 2010

Photo Tips, Wildlife

I recently posted the following photo on my twitter feed and was really surprised to read all the positive comments. Many people were surprised that the shot was from the the zoo and I realized that many people don’t fully appreciate what their local zoo can offer photographically.

I went to zoo to recharge my creative and photographic batteries.

There was no stress on having to get “the shot”, no clients wanting the images yesterday, no models that show up late and no expectations on my part.

There are many good reasons to go and shoot at the zoo:

The zoo offers a wide variety of subjects in different lighting.

Because of the other people and the zoo environment it is important to not only look at your subject but the background and surroundings as well.

You are never sure which of the animals will be out and about so you patience can be put to the test.

It is easier and cheaper than going on a full blown safari.

Both the photos in this post were taken using a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens at 200mm. Getting in really close really helps to reduce and of the distracting man made parts of the zoo. By making sure that the the subject, be it gorillas or giraffes, fills the frame I eliminated any of the man made zoo structures and other zoo goers giving the image a feeing of being shot in the wild.

Check out your local zoo and see what it has in store for you and check back here for more zoo tips soon.

All images were shot using a Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 Nikkor lens and Lexar UDMA CompactFlash cards.

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This post was written by:

- who has written 10 posts on The Digital Photo Experience.

Alan is a concert photographer based in San Diego. Alan strives to bring the energy and excitement of live shows to his images as he captures concerts 3 songs at a time. Alan teaches workflow using Adobe Bridge, Lightroom and photoshop. You can follow Alan on twitter at

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3 Responses to “Off to the zoo”

  1. Brandt Steinhauser Says:

    I can’t believe how simple and obvious this is. You may have inspired me to get out to the zoo this weekend.


  2. Craig Dyni Says:

    Make sure you check the photo policy of the zoo. The Detroit Zoo has a policy that states that “photos cannot be sold or published” unless you enter into a written agreement with the Zoo and pay a fee. For the full policy see:


  3. Alan Hess Says:

    Most zoos allow you to take photos but do not allow you to publish or sell the photos. I am suggesting that you use the great photo opportunities to practice your photography or get a little inspiration.

    So please pay attention to the rules and have fun.


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