By : Nikon School Blog | 30 Jun, 2015 |
Does shooting wildlife excite you? For most photographers, the call of the wild combined with the opportunity to photograph wild animals in their environment is difficult to resist. Trouble is, many times you don't have the time or the opportunity to spend days in the forests. Or, maybe you've just started out in photography and are not ready to take on the difficulties posed by Indian wildlife.
Don't fret, almost every major Indian city has a zoo in it, and that's where you can hone your wildlife photography skills. Obviously, it's not the real thing, but shooting in a zoo will prepare you for the challenges you will face when you eventually head to the jungles.
Though animals in a zoo are much closer to you than in a forest, a medium telephoto lens is a must. Something like a 70-300 VR or 55-300 VR will be very useful. Don't forget the kit lens or a short zoom though, as you may feel like capturing wide scenes, like a pack of deer, or a water-body with birds. Travel light, but try to carry a tripod if it is allowed inside.
It makes sense to make sure you reach there when the animals are most active. Usually, early in the morning, they are at their best and at many zoos this is the feeding time too.
Prepare for the challenges
The biggest problem people face in a zoo is the obstruction between them and the animals, in the form of glass, bars, or fences. To overcome this, you can open the aperture to maximum (lowest f-number) and zoom in to a telephoto setting (higher mm value). If you now focus on an animal which is standing away from the bars or fence, the shallow depth of field will make the bars almost invisible.
Single point or manual focusing will help you to focus through the bars on the animal.
Single point focusing to focus beyond obstructions
Another challenge is to prevent blurs caused due to movement of the animals. Fast shutter speeds prevent blurs, but often in an enclosure, or under shade, light would be too low to go for fast shutter speeds. The only solution is to use higher ISOs. At ISO 400 or 800, go for 'S' mode, and select a speed around 1/125, or 1/250.
For accurate focusing, the ideal mode is AF-C, dynamic point, or 3D tracking. Or, simply go for the sports mode of your camera.
Faster shutter speed with higher ISO helps in low light
Be patient, look for moments
Wait for the right moment. A group shot of elephants is good, but a shot with some interaction between them is better. Many animals, like monkeys or apes act funny at times, and with some luck and patience, you may be rewarded with a great shot.
The visitors to the zoo can also provide you with interesting shots, like children looking in awe at the tiger. The trees and plants often hide many interesting subjects like insects, fungi, or flowers. Watch out for them, and if you have a micro lens, carry it with you for these shots.
Go for many shoots at the zoo in your city. You'll get to know more about the animals as well as how best to shoot them in their enclosures. You'll end up craving for more, and someday head for the forests for some real wildlife action!