A Trip to the Zoo in Phoenix

The zoo can be a great place to begin to study animal behavior to help make you a better wildlife photographer.

When I photograph wildlife, I try to get behavior images that I believe have a bit more impact than capturing the animals while they are stock still. The secret to making that work is learning and knowing an animal’s micro-movements that occur just before they are about to do something different. Often you will see a small twitch. A turn of the head or some other indication they are about to move. The only way to see that is to watch intently over long periods of time and patterns will begin to emerge.

phoenix zoo primatesPrimates in the Phoenix Zoo. I had to be exceptionally patient in waiting for eye contact with these Gibbon (buff cheeked?) monkeys.

orangutan at Phoenix ZooAgain, I was waiting for eye position helped make this a more moving portrait of the orangutan. This image was captured at 1/30th of a second handheld with an 800mm equivalent lens. (see my camera notes below)

jaguar at zoo in phoenixA beautiful animal, the jaguar, looks to another across the pen.

baboon at zooThis baboon appears lost in thought. Primates being as close to human expression as you can get in the animal kingdom keep me interested for long periods of time.

One of the things I find extremely helpful in photographing wildlife is a lens with a long reach. This can allow you to fill the frame with your subject. All of these images were made with the Lumix GH5 and the Leica 100-400mm DG Vario-Elmar f4.0-6.3 lens. The five-axis image stabilization and the lens stabilizer working together allow for hand-holding and getting sharp images. The jaguar was at 1/800th of a second. The Gibbons were at 1/320th of a second. If an animal is still such as the baboon, the 1/160th of a second is no problem at all.

The tools we have at our beck and call are kinda amazing and allow us to capture photos that were virtually impossible only a few years ago.

Yours in creative Photography,       Bob