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Best Zoo for Photography?

Discussion in 'Animal Photography' started by ThomasNotTom, 12 Jan 2020.

  1. ThomasNotTom

    ThomasNotTom Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    In my experience, good photography in zoos is varied... sometimes I'll have a super successful day, and other days not so much. This can be for various reasons; weather, fencing, species, lighting etc...

    Out of interest, what zoos do you find you'll usually come away from feeling happy with your day (photography wise). I'd love to hear what you think makes those zoos so great for photography :) You could even show us some examples!

    I always seem to have success at Dartmoor (especially with the big cats) due to their moated exhibits, and then Exmoor (Probably because of the sheer amount of photos I take).
     
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  2. Stefan Verhoeven

    Stefan Verhoeven Well-Known Member

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    In my experience the less well developed zoos are great for portret photography. The most often have the animals in closer proximity so you can photograph thru the fences or glass. Mostly the surrounding is to artificial to make a natural looking photo of the whole animal in it's exhibit. The more modern zoos with big enclosures and less visual fencing are more suitable for more zoomed out photos. Also because of the bigger exhibits you need a bigger lens to make portrait photos because the animals wil be further away in general.

    For me the best zoo that I visited door photography was Cabárceno. The surrounding is so beautiful there. Walsrode is also nice. Fencing is close to the paths so you can make a photo without having the fence in the photo. In the UK I had the better photos at Exmoor, Bristol Zoo and Slimbridge WWT. Unexpected poor results in the UK were Paignton, Yorkshire wildlife Park and Port Lympne.
     
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  3. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    It very much depends on what you are looking for, in terms of photography.

    Close and/or detailed views of the animals - look for a zoo which has exhibits which are either surrounded by mesh which is either big enough to focus past, or fine enough to focus through, or glass which is shaded and unreflective enough to avoid giving problems.

    Good views of the exhibits - look for a zoo which gives wide, open views of the exhibit from multiple angles, rather than from a single narrow viewpoint.

    Impressive views of the exhibits and surroundings as one - visit somewhere like Highland Wildlife Park or Alpenzoo Innsbruck :p
     
  4. ThomasNotTom

    ThomasNotTom Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Thanks for that - but I wasn't asking for advice, just what people have experienced :)
     
  5. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    Oh, I know :) I was just going over the various aspects of your question (which might help others in thinking about what their answers might be) then suggesting two of the best for the aspect which was the first to come to mind when I read the question.
     
  6. ThomasNotTom

    ThomasNotTom Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    My bad, thank you :)
     
  7. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I have been to over 100 zoos taking pictures, most of them in USA but also over a dozen in Western Europe. Here (in no particular order) are those that I find especially conducive to photography (that I have personally visited).

    Northwest Trek (USA)
    Le Parc Des Felins (France)
    Highland Wildlife Park (United Kingdom)
    Nashville Zoo (USA)
    Memphis Zoo (USA)
    Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (USA)
    Fossil Rim Wildlife Ranch (USA)
    Zoo Salzburg (Austria)
    The Living Desert (USA)
    Minnesota Zoo (USA)
    Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (USA)
    Langenberg Wildlife Park (Switzerland)
     
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  8. RetiredToTheZoo

    RetiredToTheZoo Well-Known Member

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    I really enjoy the Memphis Zoo (USA) for photography. For the most part the views are unobstructed and at the animals' level. It's a nice place for a photo walk. I mostly use a 55-300mm lens on a 1.5X crop sensor camera.
     
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  9. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

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    I have been thinking about this thread, but I really can't give an honest answer to the question. I like to think that I have the right kit and the right technique to get decent photos of most of the animals in most zoos (there are always some frustrating exceptions). There is a lot to be said in favour of the zoo(s) that you visit most frequently, because you have learned the best positions to observe from and the best times to see and photograph particular species. On the other hand there is something very stimulating about visiting a zoo for the first time or revisiting a zoo after a gap of several years.
    I decided to do a little experiment by using the Search facility in our Gallery to check the photos that I have posted which were taken in a few different zoos and I was quite surprised to see that although I have only visited Colchester twice in the past 10 years, the photos were generally more successful than I remembered: Colchester is not known as a particularly attractive zoo and it has more than its fair share of awkward exhibits, but there is a lot to see and work with. I have resolved to go there again in 2020.
     
    Last edited: 17 Jan 2020
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  10. Bosjesman

    Bosjesman Active Member

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    The zoo i have most succes with pics is burgers zoo.

    Due to the big halls, and all the freeroaming stuff, you can very easily get natural pics, without any fences / other unnatural things in the picture. You can also move freely to get to the best angle. Problem here is that not everything is always visible and if it flies away, sometimes you can't find it back, or it will be at inaccesible places. But yea, my best pictures ive ever taken (only doing this for a year) came from burgers zoo
     
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