Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!!!!
Whether you’re preparing to head out on safari or just want practice photographing wildlife, the San Francisco Zoo workshop is a must for those looking to hone in on their animal portraits.
Scott and I met up with eight eager students at the entrance of the zoo, where we learned about the group’s shooting background and found out what gear they were using. After everyone got to know one another, we dove into the camera settings that we would be using for the day. That’s right, no auto mode while Scott and I are around! The students were shown how to shoot in aperture priority mode in order keep those shutters flipping faster than you say, zipacowa. Ok, that takes a bit to say, but you get the point.
Once everyone was comfortable with their cameras, it was time to head into the zoo and put that knowledge to the test! The first stop was the patas monkeys, the fastest primates in the world, and a good subject to work out your trigger finger on. They love to run around, so if you see a shot, you better take it, because in a moment it will be gone. After spending some time with the monkeys, it was time to move on to the cats.
Apparently the lions were up all night having a good time, because when we arrived they were all in the middle of their cat naps. So, we moved on to the snow leopard, where Scott and I showed how to photograph through a fence with minimal impact on the final image.
There was one cat left to photograph before we carried on to the other animals. That was the Lynx, who was busy eating lunch when we arrived. But eventually, it proceeded to pose itself rather nicely in a natural frame formed by a nearby tree.
The Grizzly exhibit was next up on the list. The bears offer a challenge because they are behind glass, but this group was up for the task. We instructed the students how to avoid glare on the glass and get the shots that they were looking for.
We made a quick stop at the wolves before we made our way to the polar bear. Out timing was excellent, because the polar bear was just getting ready to dive into her pond and swim around. She appeared to be having almost as much fun as we were!
By this time, we had all worked up an appetite and had trouble telling the roars of our bellies apart from the roars of the animals. We stopped into the Leaping Lemur Café for a quick bite to eat, and prepare for the second half of the day. Speaking of lemurs, it was time to go shoot the lemurs. These little creatures are incredibly cute... as well as smelly, but they are a ton of fun to photograph.
Last on our list was Africa, where we caught the zoo staff feeding the giraffes. These magnificent animals are fun to watch as they gallop around with such grace.
Around the corner from the giraffes is the gorilla exhibit, where we observed a female lounging in her swing, while another male seemed to be posing for our cameras. We completed our Africa loop by the giraffes and zebras, where we set up the tripod for our fun group photo.
It was soon three o’clock, and time to set everyone free to explore on their own to practice the skills that they learned throughout the day. Scott and I answered any last questions that the group had and then concluded the workshop, knowing our students took their ability to the next level and were on their way to becoming successful wildlife photographers!
Until next time,
Phil, Scott, and the rest of the Aperture Academy team
If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.