Friday, 30 December 2011

"Something tells me it's all happening at the Zoo"

I feel blogging needs to be fairly regular to have any value so I guess that means my blog has little value. Somehow I never seem to find the time to write and it's been many months since my last entry. I could make a new year's resolution to blog regularly but I'm afraid I will have broken it before long. However, I will endeavour to write more frequently so as not to disappoint my large following (ahem!).

With the exception of my cats, I don't often photograph animals. I don't really have the right kit for it and I am in awe of people who do it really well; people such as Andy Rouse and my good friend Dave Griffiths. That said, I rarely go anywhere without a camera and a Christmas Eve trip to Chester Zoo with the aforementioned friend offered a challenge to produce some decent images. I deliberately chose to use my Nikon D300 rather than the usual full frame camera so that I would get the benefit of a longer effective focal length from my rather modest 70-200mm zoom and this was certainly adequate for the big animals.

However, for the smaller animals, I was forced to look for compositions that would compensate for the lack of focal length:

And, of course, for some, a bit of cropping was required:

It is also a fact that, although vastly improved over recent years, zoos are not the best places to photograph animals. For some you have to contend with very low light and glass. A polarising filter may be of use for eliminating reflections from the glass but, if it already quite dark as it was here, you can do little more than get the lens very close to the glass and hope.

For others, the problem concerns the viewing angle. Chester Zoo have introduced a walkway above the cheetah pen and whilst this provides an excellent viewpoint for seeing the animals, it is very hard to get a decent photograph from above. I resorted to creating something that was more about texture and colour than it was a study of the animal itself.

In conclusion; I will never give Andy Rouse anything to worry about but they are definitely the most pleasing results I've ever got at a zoo and I might even go back again next Christmas Eve if invited.

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