You know the zoo is a great place to practice photography. What I like about it, is that you can try to make it look like you were not at the zoo. Have you ever thought about that? But, that takes practice because what are the barriers you have? People! Lots and lots of people. And then their cages. And then some zoos just throw the animals in cement boxes or in something that does not resemble their habit. So, there is your challenge. Now let’s get through some specific tips on zoo photography that will really help:

Camera gear for photography:

This may be the time to bring a bigger lens with you. We are probably going to make it look like you can get close to the animals. I would recommend two lenses: I have a 75-300mm lens, and then for my other lens, is the one that comes with the camera, the standard 18-55mm lens, for those situations when you are actually close to the animals, like those behind glass. Lighting could be poor in some of the buildings that house the animals, so, a tripod may be a necessity. Also, a lens cleaning cloth, and batteries for your camera, and an extra SD card may be needed depending on how much you shoot.

Notice you don’t see any cage or any sign that he is in a zoo. Crop in close as you shoot.

Take your time and look for good lighting !

As you get ready to take the photo, watch out for back lighting, any harsh lighting from artificial lighting, etc. That can quickly make for a bad photo. This is a good time for photographers to look at lighting. If you are a novice, a beginner, one thing new photographers miss is lighting. If you are inside buildings, be aware that the indoor lighting is not very good, and you may have to use a higher ISO or check your white balance to see if the colors even look right. Thank goodness for digital cameras that allow you see the results. And then correct them if it’s bad. If you end up using your bigger lens inside, then a tripod may be your hero. So, watch out for that crazy lighting problems.

If your inside, you can get close to your subject and get some incredible detail of your subjects. Use your smaller lens for these type of photos.

Be patient and look for eye contact:

Now what makes a good photographer, not only in zoo photos but many other photos, is being patient.

If you can capture eye contact, it will be much more dramatic. It will take great patience, but, so worth it.

If you ever want to sell photos, and especially wildlife photos, the one photo that will sell more than others is the one where the animal is looking at you. There is something about an animal looking at you like you are the next meal. That would be true with ferocious animals, but, how about the little cute animals.

The eyes tell a story and the character of the animal. Friend or foe?

Find out the animals feeding times if possible

The zoo has specific times they fee the animals and if you can find that out, you will have the animals in their very active mode. This is the only time of day the animals look forward to. The rest of the day, they may just sleep. That is the part I hate about these animals. Sometimes these animals have nothing to do but eat and sleep, so find out what time they eat so you can get them in their active time. Usually it is in the morning. So, yes, once again, the photographer has to get up early to get the good photo.

How to deal with the crowd:

Taking pictures of animals at the zoo, sometimes is hard when you have a crowd.

When you have a crowd to deal with, thee are only 2 things you can do: 1- wait for the crowd to go away, which might take a while, or 2- see if there are animals that are further back that you can take pictures of with your bigger lens. Zoom in to the animals that will cut the people out. One of the other things you do have to do if you want pictures of the more popular animals is to get there early. Once again, photographers have to arise early to get the best photos.

Enjoy your day at the zoo. And enjoy editing when you get back.

Chances are you are going to do some editing when you get back. Crop out the unwanted fences, people that got in your photos. It seems like there are always things that you have to do to make your photos look good after a day at the zoo. But, it will be worth it. Here are some great photos of zoo photos that I think turned out great from some photographers:

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This article was written by: Lanny Cottrell for 123Photogo.

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