San Francisco Zoo: Introduction to Wildlife Photography Workshop - December 2nd, 2018

Wildlife Photography Workshop Students with Aperture Academy at the San Francisco Zoo

There are mixed feelings about zoos. I think it’s important to try and look at them in their most positive light. They are great places for housing animals that might otherwise be destroyed or die because of injuries, or because they have become problem animals in the wild. They are great places to work on repopulating species with breeding programs, and if done right they are great places to educate younger generations on the importance of wild spaces, and different species of animals. Photographically, they are great places to work on capturing wildlife photos.

Mike and I met our group on a chilly Mother’s Day morning at the SF Zoo for a fun day of looking at animals, and learning how to photograph them. We start first with the Grizzly Bears. While nothing beats seeing grizzly bears in the wild, these two sisters are pretty close. They would be destroyed if it weren’t for the zoo. They were found orphaned in the wild, and had started to become problems in human areas. Here they have a fairly large enclosure, and live fish to catch several times a week and all the lettuce they can eat. Photographically they are a real challenge because they move so fast looking for their food.

Next we had some fun photographing pelicans and a rogue heron who decided to enter their feeding party. It was off to Black Bears and Wolves after that. The wolves were enjoying the cooler temperatures and moving about their run. Normally I only see them sleeping, and for the longest time I didn’t even know there were three of them. They’re beautiful dogs, and we had a lot of fun photographing them. We moved to the south American aviary afterwards. Here we talked about how ISO would increase a great deal when we moved to a darker environment.

It seemed that every time we tried to get closer to taking a break, we’d find more animals out doing their thing. The Mandrill’s were out and about, the Lemurs and other Lemur-like critters were posing for us. The Koala was even moving about in his enclosure!

We finally found a little time to take a break and have lunch, but not for long it was soon time to get back to the photography and we started out with the flamingos. These birds were awesome. Whether you’re shooting close up to their wonderfully detailed feathers, or shooting a little under exposed and working on the contrast between light and dark.

From there it was giraffes. Some crazy ugly African birds, Gorillas, and even a tiger appearance. Not many places can you hit all the countries and major species of animals in just an afternoon, AND learn how to use your camera even better! What a fun day!

Until next time,

Brian, Mike, and the rest of the Aperture Academy team



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