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Old Sep 7, 2010, 10:17 PM   #1
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Default A Day at the Zoo

Thanks for all the feed back on my last post. I took a trip to the zoo this weekend. Thought it would have a lot of opportunities to experiment. I took a lot of pictures. Here are some of the "good ones". I switched to spot focus but am still having some issues. All photo's were handheld as there wasn't room for tripods, etc. I braced the best I could and used railings when available. I want honest, brutal comments so I can learn and grow.

Not sure what type of bird this is, but it was still long enough for a newbie...

Jaguar sleeping is through a thick plexiglass viewing window....

Some type of Lizard, again through glass...

Some type of Eagle, this time through a heavy chain link fence with very small openings. This was a manual focas as the auto wanted to focus on the fence.

Some Bird with Wild Eyes...

A Komodo Dragon through thick glass...

A type of Parrot?

and lastly, another Parrot...

Again, any feed back, composition, lighting, exposure, Dof, etc.. I really appreciate the talent I see in this forum and look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Last edited by Osnap65; Sep 7, 2010 at 11:47 PM.
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Old Sep 7, 2010, 11:57 PM   #2
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You did quite well, considering the problems with shooting in a zoo. I really like both the jaguar and the large lizard (iguana? or???). The one you said you manually focused looks a little soft - not sure if that's camera shake (looks like the lighting was dim and you probably used a slow shutter speed) or the focus might have been a slight bit off (manual focus takes practice and is much easier with a really sharp lens. If you took this with the kit lens without practicing then you did quite well). When you shoot through chain link fences, try to get as close as you possibly can - that will help with the focus. Others who shoot more at zoos can probably give you more tips, but I think these are very nice.
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Old Sep 8, 2010, 1:37 AM   #3
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Yes, agree with Harriet. When shooting through a chain-link fence put the lense right up against it (make sure you have a hood on - don't want to scratch that baby !) and the chain-link will magically disappear from your shot leaving you with just the subject.
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Old Sep 8, 2010, 7:24 AM   #4
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Very nice assortment of interesting creatures in interesting poses. Shows a good eye for composition! A zoo is not the easiest place for photography - smudged glass, odd lighting, etc. But you did well - using the light that was there to highlight your subjects. Keep working on the manual focus, not easy but quite useful - as you noticed - when the camera tries to focus on the wrong subject. (Also quite useful because you can usually buy manual lenses cheaper than auto lenses!)
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Old Sep 8, 2010, 5:15 PM   #5
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Hey Osnap,
since you asked for critique, I'll look at these the way I do mine when I want to see what I think I could do to make them better, and believe me, its a lot easier to critique them after you take them than it is to do it while your taking them!
These are pretty good results considering what you had to work with. And I mean that in a good way.
I just took some zoo pics a few weeks ago and I know how hard it is to deal with the conditions you have little or no control over.

I gleaned some info from the EXIF data on the photos you posted and frankly, I was stunned by what I saw on some of them. First, let me say how much I like the shot of the iguana. In my humble opinion its fantastic! That said, I think it could be a little bit sharper. I see your shutter speed was 1/13th sec. Wow, I think you must have supported the camera on a railing to get it as sharp as you did. But, at that speed even the mirror slap can add just a tiny bit of blur and I'm guessing that may be what happened. I always try to get the fastest shutter speed as I can to help avoid that. I would have increased the ISO to at least 400 maybe even as high as 800 and opened the aperture a bit if possible. Composition isn't my strong suite but, some of the others might want to critique that and give there suggestions. To me it seams a bit to centered. I still think its a great shot.

On the first shot, good exposure and sharpness. But, again, I would use a wider aperture and maybe higher ISO to get the shutter speed up and a touch more detail in the shadows.

Same story with the cat, open the aperture and raise ISO to get faster shutter and more detail in the shadows.

The Eagle is a "Harpy" had to look it up, first time I've seen one.

Besides what the others have said, same story... aperture, shutter, ISO. more is better here to.

The next one really amazed me. Nice and sharp plus you got quite a bit of detail in the dark areas of this shot. Still could be helped with same as mentioned above.

The Komodo Dragon. Funny, this is the only shot where you have a decent shutter speed and aperture. also the only one you used shutter priority mode. Here, though, I think you could improve it with a tighter aperture to increase the DOF and raise the ISO to compensate. The glass of course is the biggest problem and there isn't anything you can do about that.

The parrot, I think f:8 is good but, would go to higher ISO to get the speed up and still get a little higher exposure.

On the Lorikeet. Perfect exposure and beautiful shot. But... again, you could improve the sharpness by increasing the shutter speed, and by now you know how to do that!

P.S. One thing I'd like to mention is, fill flash would help all of these tremendously if you had one like the Pentax 360 or 540.

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Old Sep 8, 2010, 5:58 PM   #6
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Sounds like you had a lot of throwaways, but these aren't bad at all. Lots of good advice from others that should help.

FYI, the first bird is a Thick-Knee (or Stone Curlew), probably a Spotted Thick-knee from Africa, the second, as per GW, is a Harpy Eagle from South America (the world's largest eagle), and the third is one of the Birds-of-Paradise from New Guinea.
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Old Sep 8, 2010, 10:49 PM   #7
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Thanks everyone for the feed back. You have given me a lot to think about as I move forward. I picked the zoo because I thought it would give a lot of opportunity, but was not aware of all the problems associated with trying to photograph in such a high traffic site (not to mention on a holiday). Having been in p&s mode for 20 years, I had forgotten all the planning needed for good photography.

Thanks again,

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