Another Great Day at the Zoo

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It’s Tuesday morning and my computer is currently crunching Bar Mitzvah photos, so it’s a good time to post some photos from our wonderful North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro. I’m pretty sure I have written before about how cool the zoo is, so I won’t repeat myself. Instead, I’ll mostly share photos and talk a little bit about some things to consider when photographing at a place like a zoo.

Jamani and Bomassa

Jamani and Bomassa

I’ll start by saying that every time we decide to go to the zoo, I debate whether or not I am going to take my camera. The Asheboro zoo, in particular, is sprawling and massive, with lots of walking if you want to maximize your experience. I welcome the exercise and the opportunity to wear out my son, but when considering a camera, I know that I will be bringing a long lens of some sort, which usually means heavy/bulky. In the past, I might have taken the OM-D and some short telephoto and enjoyed the relatively bulklessness of that mirrorless setup. Alas, I no longer have the OM-D, so am left with my heavy, but supremely competent Canon gear.


Harbor Seal

I generally bring a long telephoto, a teleconverter, and a wide angle lens. The telephoto is obviously for the animals, and the wide angle I use sometimes for photos of patrons, of us, of my son, or of the animals, as with the seal photo above. It’s good to have another option, just in case.

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Since we are members of the zoo and visit three or four times each year, when I do take my camera, I try to get something different and fresh each time I go. Some of what I come home with is dictated by the animals and the crowds–for example, the polar bears have been off exhibit for a good long while while a new exhibit is being constructed, and the bobcat is so elusive that it has been several years since I’ve been able to photograph it. The grizzly, too, has been elusive, though I was fortunate to catch him this time around. I often avoid the gorillas because of crowds and glare on the glass, but they were my favorite feature of this visit. In short, the zoo is a good candidate for repeat visits because you just never know what you’re going to get.

Baby Bomassa rides on momma Jamani's back

Baby Bomassa rides on momma Jamani’s back

My general goal when photographing the animals is to focus on their personalities and attempting to photograph them as I would photograph human portraits. I also generally try to make them look like they are in as natural a setting as possible, which is made somewhat easier by the very natural looking habitats at the NC Zoo. I don’t do this in an attempt to pretend that these are wild animals and that I am on some grand adventure. Rather, I think seeing animals in more natural settings helps viewers and visitors to remember that these are wild animals that are important–they deserve protection, and honor, and homes in their native lands and habitats. As we push animals further and further into the periphery of our world, we risk losing so much of what makes our planet special.


Gorilla Wisdom

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On the Range-8335

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