When at the zoo, it is nice to take pictures of the animals, right…? Having been three years in China I can not count all the pictures I have of super cute pandas, but that is not the point. It is nice to take good pictures of animals, and for those of us with kids, it is nice to HAVE pictures of animals to show the kids later. At least Sophie loves looking at my animal pictures like a story book
Shooting animals is not my speciality, but here are a couple of ground rules that I have learnt and try to follow. First of all, put the focus in the eye. Always in the eye. Or, eh, at least almost always. If you don’t have focus in the eyes, you should have a good reason not to and there should be some other kind of dynamic in the picture, like the elephants below going for a walk together.
Secondly, remember the rules of thirds. If you don’t know it, google it and study it immediately. Exclamation mark! You can check it here. In fact, maybe I should write a post about that later, it is worth a post in itself, as this is really one of the most essential elements for a good picture. Of course, as any other rules, there are exceptions and rules can be broken, but in general, always take pictures with the rule of third in mind.
Third, think about filling the frame. Zoom in as much as you can, and think about the two first points, and then shoot. You don’t have to get the whole elephant to understand there is an elephant in the picture so to speak. Actually these tips are really just general tips for taking better pictures, not for animals specifically. So apply this to all pictures you take! Of course sometimes you want a little more of the background as well, and that is fine too, just let the animal have more space than the background.
I could go on and on here, but since blog posts are supposed to be short, I will only briefly mention a couple of other things: use a high aperture to get a shallow depth of field to really focus on the animal (blurring the background), and use a fast shutter speed as well, to freeze movement and get a sharper picture. And finally, think about the light. Try not to shoot at noon. Go early in the morning or later in the afternoon when the light is softer than midday. Or if you DO go at noon, hope for some clouds, or at least some shade.