A few years ago we started getting a family pass to the Indianapolis zoo (www.indianapoliszoo.com)
and have really enjoyed going a few times a year. Our son Nolan really likes it. Though with his attention span he practically runs thru the place. It's a good sized zoo for small kids because it's not super huge. We usually get thru it in a few hours, worth the trip. but not so big that the kid wears out before were done and back to the car. Sometimes I will bring the camera with me and sometimes I will leave it at home. Nolan (my son) has come to hate the camera because it slows me down cause I'm always taking pictures. I have learned to shoot quickly and get what I can get LOL.
This day worked out pretty well. got some good shots of the eagle and polar bear. The brown bear still was back out but the whole time we watched him his back was to us. He was playing around with a bone and it was great. He just chose to keep his rear to us. Though I suppose if I was on display everyday I would want to eat my meal in piece as well.
Couple of tips for photography at a Zoo, go early, try and get there when they open. At a lot of zoo's this will be feeding time and zoos will feed the animals in a visible spot so you can see what's going on. You can usually call your local zoo and see when feeding times are in case there is a specific animal your trying to photograph, If that is the case go alone, don't drag your kids enjoyment down because you want to catch an animal. (another reason for a pass, you can go for an hour or two in the morning and then head off to work or errands and not worry about any money) A lot of your plains animals and outdoor animals are a lot more active in the mornings because the temperature is still cool out. Once the heat of the day comes out a lot of animals will retreat to sleep or lounge in the shade.
If they are behind a fence try and get close to the fence so the fence winds up being so blurry it's almost not noticeable in photos. and you may find your camera struggling to find focus thru a fence, I will usually just go into manual focus mode and adjust the focus manually to shoot thru the fence. (The shot below was shot thru a fence with wiring running vertically every few inches. You can see some blurring of the fence going left and right across her chest.) I just try and get the face in the center of the fence so none of the face is blurred. And even though these are zoo shots I still try to keep fences and buildings and people out of the background. try and get the photo to look natural, sometimes it can take some maneuvering and jostling to get that spot but it will make the photos look better. If your shooting thru glass I will take my lens visor off the camera and get the camera so it is basically up against the glass. I find the cleanest spot I can and try to be at the animals level so I'm not angled funny and the glass gives you distortion or glare. you can try this if your using flash but 95% of the time I keep flash off, esp. if I'm trying to shoot thru glass. Hopefully this helps you out a bit on your next trip to the zoo. Have fun.
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