Well, I know it’s been a few days since I mentioned that I was going to the zoo, but this weekend has been a very busy time, what with all the slacking I had planned? Finally however, tonight I got around to editing the pictures that I shot at the zoo, and now I’ve decided I’ll bring them to you with great gusto.
I think perhaps the most important thing I need to mention about shooting with this lens, aside from everthing else – the specatcular optics, the amazing VR, the instantaneous autofocus – is what happens when people see you with it. I was walking around with it mounted on the TC-14E II and the D300 + MB-D10 battery pack, and I got some very impressed looks. People actually stopped and stared as I walked by, holding this beautiful beast in my arms. Not only were they gobsmacked, but it also grabbed respect. Even at the crowded places, watching the hippos and then also at the hyrax enclosure, I felt like Moses, parting the crowds, everybody just standing aside to let me shoot. That’s a great feeling.
Anyways to the shooting! The reason all of these photos are shot at 420mm with the TC-14E II is that I had stupidly forgotten the caps for it, so I couldn’t remove it, so I just left it on.
There are a lot of photos here, so bear with me (pun intended) and I hope you like them! They’re in chronological order, just so you know.
The first thing I always do whenever I go into a zoo is to head straight to the reptiles, which usually also means the fish. Basel zoo, surprisingly one of the “best” zoos in the world, is no exception. Unfortunately, the darkness means that it is very difficult to shoot with a tripod, and I have a curious affliction meaning that I hate to shoot through glass. Unfortunately that limits my shooting in this house to only the crocodiles, but I made up for that in other parts of the park.
I headed over to the sunbears to catch a glimpse of them doing their stuff. The light was great, overcast, allowing for good smooth and detailed shadows as here. The sunbears were extremely cooperative.
Gorgeous animals. I had to stand really far back to get these shots, because the animals were so close.
I moved along, shooting as I walked:
One of the things about animal photography is capturing feeling and emotion to deliver the essence of the subject and the vision of the photographer. The emotions of these monkeys was so nearly human, and the baby had just jumped on its mother’s chest, hugging her. I shot away.
Moving swiftly onwards to our feathery friends:
I turned around from these flamigos to find a beautiful cheetah pacing at the side of its cage, clearly intent upon nabbing itself a flamingo. Click click click.
This was the point at which I regretted having that teleconverter on, because I was literally a metre away from the animal at times, and I couldn’t focus close enough at that magnification. I’m not quite sure how the teleconverter affects the focus distance, but I was getting magnification beyond what I needed:
The line through the picture here is due unfortunately to the fence, which the cat had pushed its face up against.
Moving onwards to the bee eaters:
The bee-eaters were gorgeous, but the light was very difficult to shoot against, especially with the thin steel cables (visible in the second photo as the dark lines through the background) that contain the birds from flying out into the viewing area. In the same building are the ground squirrels and hyraxes, and these made some really excellent shooting, and this was the majour place where people stood aside for me. Good people, great shooting adorable ground squirrels.
But then I moved on to the real show stealers. Meerkats are absolutely great animals to shoot. Classic expressions, caught so well.
And then there was the peacock…
And then the egret…
I love the way the chain of the fence changes the way the background appears, yet the image is still sharp. Lovely stuff.
Now, you should know by now that I dislike images that are too abstract, especially when it comes to nature photography. When I get back from a shoot, the frist thing I do is kill every picture that is unacceptably out of focus. That being said, at the zoo, with limited space to back into, and gorgeous patters to look at, I came across the pelicans. Instead of using my usual approach, I instead got in closer, and shot what I knew would be a funky image:
And then I moved on, back to what must be one of my favourite birds to photograph – white stork! This mother was guarding her babies which were lying exposed due to the heat of the day. A beautiful bird, with some extremely ugly chicks:
Such majestic birds.
Anyways, that concludes this trip to the zoo. I know this has been an extremely long post, but I hope you enjoyed the pictures and will therefore forgive me for not posting again for a few days. I’ll still be shooting, but I’m working on website design again, so it’s going to be very intermittent. In the meantime, keep clicking.