Things have been a little crazy lately, hence it was indeed a necessity to get away from everything for a while, and just be with myself. Waking up on a glorious Sunday morning, I took a bus down to the Zoo Negara. I have had the Zuiko 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 lens with me for almost a year now, but strangely I have not brought this lens to have a work-out at the zoo before. Therefore, I thought, instead of shooting people, I wanted to shoot something else for a change, to refresh my mind and rediscover the wonders of shooting with a long telephoto zoom lens. Did I tell you I love long, big, zoom lenses?
All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 (non-SWD)
The elephants were so huge, there was completely no way I can compose by fitting the entire body without including ugly backgrounds (man-made structures, fences, etc). As I was looking at the elephant, there was something in their eyes that caught my attention. I felt sorrow. I know I must be imagining things.
At your Feet
A simple shot of a rhinoceros would have been too plain. Then there was that tiny black bird that flew in and landed just inches away from the rhino's foot. As I was composing my shot, the bird jumped onto the foot. I should have stopped down the aperture to get more depth of field, but when I thought of that the rhino reacted and the bird flew off. Aahhhh...
This blardy tiger never stopped moving. I waited and waited and waited and it just kept walking on and on. It was under heavy shade, and mind you the tiger walked at quite a fast pace. Since it was almost impossible to freeze the motion, I used the motion blur in the photograph instead.
Bird in Flight 1
With E-5 + 50-200mm combo, the autofocus was good enough to capture action shots such as these.
Bird in Flight 2
A cleaner composition, but the focus was actually at the wing, not the eye of the bird. But I'd say it was good enough for now. More practice would nail the shot next time.
Bird in Flight 3.
Did I tell you how much I love the Olympus Zuiko 50-200mm F2.8-3.5?
I do feel pitiful seeing some of the animals in the zoo. This lion seemed very skinny. Perhaps it has been underfed.
This image was shot near noon. Not the best time to shoot anything at all, but the bright highlight surrounding the head and neck added the warmth and glow to the bird. Some may complain about the highlight blown outs, but to me it added drama to this shot.
Man to man
The Orang Hutan was looking at me directly, I do think the gaze meant something, not sure what.
Finally, the tiger rested. Ok I lied, this was a different tiger, at a different cage.
Instead of flooding this blog entry with dozens of images, I only selected a few to display. Not that I do not have any more to show, but I do feel that many of my shots turned out rather ordinary.
My main priority in shooting this session was to make sure I avoid all man-made structures, fences, grills, or whatever that may look artificial from the animal shots. Of course it is impossible to avoid everything, but I did what I can, and I utilized the long lens' super compression effect as well as limited field of view to isolate the subject from the cluttered and ugly background.
I am not sure about you guys, but I do get the kick from shooting animals in the zoo. It is straightforward, without much need to "find the outstanding, unusual subject content", or create a story or emotional impact in the photograph to tell a story or provocative ideas in the image. Sometimes, photography has become over-ly complicated and we can just do away without those dramas. Shooting techniques? Nothing much to wrestle with in the zoo really, just point, zoom and shoot. The subjects were already there, perhaps the timing, or framing may come into play, but you need not consider "zone-focusing" or "hip-shots" or all those fancy advanced techniques to get your subject in focus. You miss-focused on the elephant? Try again. And again. The elephant wont fly away. Trust me I know.
At the end of the day, coming home with the simple, plain images of animal portraits, I was thoroughly satisfied. I enjoyed myself being out there, appreciating the diversity of nature, and the creatures that share the same planet with us. Honestly, that tiger is a stranger to me as the stranger on any other street. The tiger may want to eat me alive since I look so delicious, but that stranger on the street might pounce on my wallet or camera, to buy himself a warm meal and get a decent place to stay for the night. My point is, we have to look beyond the limitations that hold our perception on photography down. Photography is a lot more than what we choose to do or the actions that we take to achieve our goals. Acknowledging that photography has so much more potential than just what we chose to restrain ourselves with, is the first step in improving ourselves as better photographers.
No, I am not venturing into wildlife photography, not that I intend to. However, I would like to remind myself that there is so much more in photography to explore. I should keep an open mind, and make full use of my gear, and what it can accomplish. I felt that I have only barely scratched the surface, and there is surely a lot more to experience. One step at a time Robin, one step at a time.