Sunday, 7 July 2013

Tutorial: Shooting at the Zoo


It's summertime, and sooner or later, you'll end up at a zoo. If you want to bring home a memorable photo, how do you do it?

I took a stroll through Slottskogen today, and got some pretty good shots. Here is what I did:
  • I set my camera to underexpose one full stop. This will make colors more saturated.
  • I set the camera to high speed mode, to capture animals when they actually did something.
  • I shot mostly in aperture mode, which enabled me to use a wide aperture, and thus a narrow depth of field. For some things, like fast moving birds, I switched to shutter priority mode.
  • I set ISO to Auto. This freed me from worrying about very long exposure times. The camera will increase the ISO instead of making the exposure times too long.

After setting up the camera, I just walked around, camera ready, and observed what was going on around me. As usual, when shooting animals, it is best to get in close.

Zoos are often built so that you look down on the animals. Unfortunately, this is not a good angle to shoot from. I went as low as I could, to get closer to eye level with the animals.

A key thing is to look for animals that are doing something. It does not have to be much. Anything they do, except sleeping or just standing there will make your photos more interesting.


If the animals won't cooperate and do interesting things in front of your camera, look for other things to shoot! Chances are you will find an interesting looking statue, or people, or insects. A nice looking flower will do in a pinch.

One final piece of advice: If you go to shoot, go alone! If you have spouse and children with you, they will demand attention. They are unlikely to value your need to get a great shot as highly as their need to make you buy ice-cream for them.

It does not matter if you are a man or a woman. If you have a camera, you will become the designated servant. So, enjoy the day with your family, and sneak back later to take good pictures, if you can.