Sunday, April 13, 2014

Buzzin Round the Zoo

Now and again I like to make a visit to my local zoo at Chester. Is is a very good zoo and they a operate a large number of  important conservation and education programmes. This zoo holds many fond memories as it is one of the places I taught myself photography. I use to have a season ticket and so would pop in for an hour or two and go and spend some time at a particular enclosure. I think this zoo provide me with a valuable education as overcoming the constraints of the enclosures to produce natural looking images, taught me to think carefully about my position and how it effects the setting and composition and the importance of backgrounds. This is still important in my wildlife photography.  In those early days I would often rush around the zoo wanting to photograph everything, these days I take a more relaxed approach on my visits.

I prefer to visit in the winter when the zoo is quieter and if the sun shines it is softer. Mind you the low sun angle can create some awkward long shadows across the enclosures. This post is about two visits I have made in the last 6 months. The first was a brief afternoon back in November when I dropped my better half off in Chester to meet some friends for some retail therapy whilst I had a couple of hours wandering the zoo. High Street shops or looking at exotic animals, well there is not much competition there really.  So here are a couple of images from that first trip.

An adult cheetah prowling its large enclosure and one of the three youngsters rim lit by the low winter sun.
Staying with the big cats, the male Asiatic Lion nearly always provides some good photo opportunities, when he is awake, with this one given the black and white treatment.

Photographing in the monkey house is always difficult due to the limited light but can produce some interesting images with a bit of patience.

Crested Macaques

The dominant male Mandrill. I have always been fascinated with these large monkeys and found myself transfixed watching this one wandering what was going on behind those eyes.

Mandrill

My second visit was quite recently and unusually an all day one. My very good friend Andy Rouse, together with Andrew James, recently set up a very interesting photography website called Fotobuzz. They have tried to create something different and have put in a huge amount of work in to creating a very slick website with strong feeling of community and fun that is aimed at improving people's photography. I have been contributing to this on a monthly basis in a section about days out with your camera. Really it would take me far too long here to explain so here is a link Fotobuzz , if you want to see what it is about. This trip to Chester Zoo was the first Fotobuzz meetup with around 40 members from all over the UK attending. Given that it was just down the road I promised I would call in to help out. After an initial talk, accompanied by some coffee and pastries, about zoo photography, Andy went on to show some images and provide some background on his latest wildlife photography projects. Before being let lose with their cameras around the zoo, some help was given to people who had queries about setting up new cameras. A great day was had by all and I am sure many learnt some new techniques. There was certainly plenty of smiles when we all congregated together at the end of the day before departing. A few images from my wandering around the zoo that day are below.

Asiatic male lion again, this time in colour.

Emerald Starling in the Tropic Realm. Beautiful birds in their metallic green and purple colours. However, the colourful bird awards must go to the Nicobar Pigeon. Not all pigeons are equal and this must rank amongst the most beautiful.

A brief visit into the small aquarium and a Cardinal with an anemone.
Glossy Ibis and Black Vulture

The new Komodos.

My favourite images of the session was of one of the giraffes. The black background here created by some of that careful positioning I mentioned earlier.

5 comments:

Sharon Whitley said...

Wonderful images Richard! We live about 20 mins away from Chester and are fairly regular visitors, as you say trying to get photos of the animals as if in their natural habitat. Definitely prefer the zoo to Chester shopping!!

Africa Gómez said...

wow, stunning images. I particularly love the male Mandrill, is mesmerising. Do you sell prints of your photos? I'd love one of those!

Magdalena Wilczek said...

Amazing photos !

Laura Delegal - Leroy Photography said...

The colors are fabulous

Robert Allcock said...

Excellent Richard

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