Top Tips for Cool Zoo Pix

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Even though I have been to Africa several times (and will be returning next year for my Kenya digital photograph workshop), I still enjoy photographing at zoos - especially at the Bronx Zoo, where I took the images for this post.

Here are some helpful tips for your next zoo shoot.

Go for behavior shots, like the ones you see here, as opposed to static portraits. Behavior shots tell more of a story, but are, admittedly, harder to capture.

Call the zoo in advance and ask if any groups will be at the zoo during your proposed shoot times. Several bus loads of kids, as cute as the kids may be, may make shooting in confided spaces, such as Jungle World at the Bronx Zoo, a bit tricky.

Speaking of Jungle World, when you are in an indoor exhibit where it is humid, don't change lenses. If you do, your lens and mirror can fog. Worse still, your image sensor could fog.

Ask beforehand if a tripod or monopod is allowed. Some zoos say "no" due to insurance policies.

Also ask about feeding times. You may get more action shots before and during feeding times, as opposed to getting sleeping shots after feeding times.

Lens recommendations: 100-400mm for close-ups of the animals, 24-105mm for environmental shots.

For portraits of the animals, shoot at a wide aperture to blur the background, which may be a dead giveaway that your picture was taken in a zoo.

You can blur a foreground wire fence if you hold a telephoto lens very close to the fence and shoot at a wide aperture.

You'll definitely want to pack a polarizing filter to reduce glare on the windows of the displays.

Pack a flash for daylight fill-in flash shots.

Pack light and have easy access to your gear and gear bag, which you want to keep in sight at all times.

Inside: Don't be afraid to boost your ISO to get a fast shutter speed, which is often needed for steady shots with long lenses.

Where ever you shoot, lighting and composition is important. You can lean about both topics by watching my on-line composition and lighting classes.

Have fun on your next photo adventure at the zoo.

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Shoot me an email if you are interested in my 2014 Kenya Photo Safari.

Explore the light,

P.S. If you want to add a creative touch to your images, play with plug-ins. My favorites are listed on my Save on Plug-ins page.

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This post sponsored by Adorama - great gear at great prices.

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