Earlier this month, Libby and I trekked down to Alamogordo for another chance to photograph some of the delightful critters at the Alameda Park Zoo. Both of us were very thrilled to be using our “big boys” –the Nikon 70-300 mm lens. We did a little shopping, had lunch and headed over to the zoo about 4:00 PM –we wanted nice afternoon light instead of the noon day harshness. To our dismay, the zoo was closing at 5:00 so we were under the gun for rapid shooting if we were going to stick to our mantra of ALWAYS making worthy photos.
There are two challenges to getting good shots of the animals in this zoo: first and foremost, being there in between their nap or feeding times –you obviously can’t photograph something that’s not there; and secondly, carefully focusing your lens through the chain link fence –not always easy for the eager auto-focus lenses ( climbing the protective barrier is not a good idea for obvious reasons).
I was particularly thrilled to see the Mexican Gray wolves relaxing in the open. On past trips, they were either on the move or out of sight.
We go on photo expeditions to become better photographers and because we love the challenge of making a photo under sometimes less than perfect circumstances. The more you practice your art or craft, the clearer your artistic vision. At the end of our shoots we always evaluate our photos and examine what went right and what didn’t and why. So, here are the lessons we learned on this trip:
- Check closing times for parks and zoos. While the shooting under pressure was good practice, we would have preferred to have enough time for Goliath the swan to put on his spectacular display.
- Check all your settings before you start shooting (duh!) –the wine with lunch might have had something to do with this.
- Hold off on the glass of wine until after your shoot (especially the second glass). It’s not just the lens and camera that have to focus!
- And last but not least, get out of the vehicle first and then unload your gear.