San Francisco Zoo Wildlife Photography Workshop, September 3rd, 2011

San Francisco Zoo: Introduction to Wildlife Photography Workshop - September 3rd, 2011

Night Photography Workshop Students with Aperture Academy

The San Francisco Zoo is a fun workshop held right along the Central California Coast; where the animals are healthy and happy, and the Bay Area weather always gives us something good to work with! On this chilly Saturday morning, Aperture Academy instructors Scott Donschikowski and Alicia Telfer lead an intimate group of 5 into the zoo for a fun-filled adventure!

On this day, we made our way to the backside of the zoo for the grizzly bear feeding and stopped along the way to see the Mandrill, who would posed perfectly for us, then saunter about giving us an opportunity for some action shots! He was acting as if he was expecting us. One of the first tips we teach our students is utilizing fast shutter speeds. After going over the dial settings, most students decided to use the Shutter Priority setting to capture any sudden movements! Moving forward, we stopped by the Lion’s den to see all the cats resting peaceful, preening and yawing in the early morning mist. Across the way the Rhino was playing peek-a-boo and the Kudu was laying alert with his spiraling horns making 2.5 graceful twists. Depending on where he is laying, students can compose a shot of him with some thick grass in the foreground, practicing depth of field!

After about 45 minutes, we ended up in the Grizzly Gulch, were we switched our telephoto lenses for our wide angle lenses and watched the bears swim and hunt for fish! Another fun tip for people to use in a confined space, shooting from the hip. This is where we taught some students to squeeze their shooting hand in to a smaller space and fire away! Sometimes, it is fun not being able to see what we are shooting! After all the excitement and claustrophobia settled, we headed over to say hi to the polar bear, he was so relaxed, laying in the sun scratching his belly and making is very easy to get some very cute shots of him. The sun bear was grouchy on this morning, but the sea lions were swimming freely, enjoying a hand feeding of fish from one of their zoo-keeper friends.

Stopping by the penguins, Alicia’s favorite exhibit, we rounded our way back to the Leaping Lemur Café were we all enjoyed our lunch with the flamingos! During lunch, we like to give the students time to talk about anything and everything photography! With our cameras in hand, we reviewed and shared images captured thus far, and we were all seeing amazing shots! The next stop was the Gorilla Preserve, a staff favorite, with over 8 viewing areas allowing opportunity for endless compositions! After a little goofing around for a group shot with our gorilla faces on, we made our way to the children’s zoo where we have access to quite the variety of specimens.

We stopped to say hello to the meerkats and prairie dogs, where you get a bird’s eye view of the doggies munching away. The meerkats were perched up, watching out for birds of prey and other enemies. There is a beautiful natural background behind the guard on duty, with just enough distance to create some bokeh in everyone’s images- which, were coming out well exposed and composed! Making sure to spend at leave 10-15 minutes to finish up in the petting zoo, this allows us to get up close and personal with plenty of friendly goats, llamas and pigs! Everyone was happy with their new and improved images, and we said are farewells. Until next time, Scott, Alicia & the rest of the Aperture Academy Team!

Until next time,

Scott, Alicia and the rest of the team at Aperture Academy!

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