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How Many Great Photos Do You Shoot?

Discussion in 'Animal Photography' started by RetiredToTheZoo, 29 Jun 2015.

  1. RetiredToTheZoo

    RetiredToTheZoo Well-Known Member

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    I am curious, of all the photos you take at the zoo, how many of them are truly great photographs? By great I mean the kind you would be very proud to frame and hang on your wall or in a public place for everyone to see. My last trip to the zoo, I took 338 pictures and ended up with 3 that were really great, about 1%. This seems low to me and tells me I'm not nearly as good of photographer as I think I am. Just wonder what other peoples experiences are like.
     
  2. Macaw16

    Macaw16 Well-Known Member

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    I'm pretty awful, out of all the photos I take, only one or two will be really great.
     
  3. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    338 pictures is a lot to take in one day at the zoo. I think the one percent keeper rate is not necessarily because you are a bad photographer but because you are allowing yourself to take too many photos. Most of these will have to be mediocre because there are not that many outstanding photo ops in a single day. I would say slow down and only shoot when you really think it is worthwhile. You will still end up deleting a lot, but not ninety nine percent.
     
  4. RetiredToTheZoo

    RetiredToTheZoo Well-Known Member

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    Very sound advice, thank you. As I think back to my 35mm days I was much more selective in what I shot than I am now due to the cost of film and processing. I need to go back to that mind set and tell myself each digital frame cost a quarter. If I did that I'm sure I would pay a lot more attention to composition, lighting, background, angles, etc. instead of just shooting everything and hope something comes out good.
     
  5. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    You say that..... I took over a thousand photos in a single day at Tierpark Berlin!
     
  6. savethelephant

    savethelephant Well-Known Member

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    There are multiple reasons for that, TLD:p

    I usually have around 300-500 picture after visiting the Bronx zoo. Occasionaly they are horrible, but when they are I delete it immediately. But it works the other way too. Occasionaly a picture is great.
     
  7. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    I'm very surprised that you would consider 338 pictures a lot. I usually take over 1,000 pictures at a day in an average to large zoo.
    Of course, many of these are exhibit pictures and signage.

    Note: cross-posted with both TeaLovingDave and Savethelephant
     
    Last edited: 30 Jun 2015
  8. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    All of you thousand pictures takers need help desperately! :p
    There must be some kind of support group to help you. :D
     
  9. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

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    I took 1,522 photos at San Diego Zoo last year.

    :p

    How many great photos you shoot depends entirely on what you are trying to acheive when visiting a zoo. If you go to take photos, which is far from ewveryone's aim, then your focus on that goal will elad to fewer, and probably better, photos. If you want a solid record of the zoo, you may take many photos of exhibits, signage, etc., especially if its a first visit, and a return visit is unlikely or distant. I fall into the latter category, and even on return visits to local zoos, rarely try for any photography that is anything other than for record keeping. I'd say great photos account for maybe 0.01% of my photos.
     
  10. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    Time to stage an intervention!
     
  11. Hix

    Hix Wildlife Enthusiast and Lover of Islands Premium Member

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    I'm with Zooboy on this. I take photos as a record of what I saw, or to illustrate something like a good or bad enclosure as well as the animals. Very few of those photos are ones I would enlarge and frame, and if I did it would only be of the animals. So my proportion of keepers is closer to 50%.

    If I'm going to enlarge and frame images these days it's gonna be things I snapped in the wild.

    :p

    Hix
     
  12. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

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    Looking back at my most recent shoots, I think my average for a full day at a good zoo in decent weather is about 500 images. I would normally expect to get at least 20 really good images, by which I mean good enough to post here or on a photography website - although I don't think I have ever posted that many in the Gallery at one go. Incidentally I don't use my walls for hanging my own photos, instead I have reproductions of Julia Margaret Cameron, F H Evans, Art Kane and Man Ray for inspiration.
    If I think a photo is going to work I will always take several exposures in fairly quick succession, minor variations in focus and framing and in the animal's pose can make all the difference between a reasonable image and a first rate one; I find that when I look carefully at the set of superficially similar images, there is usually one that clearly stands out.
    If I know that there is a particular problem with a shot, such as needing to set an unusually slow shutter speed or to bracket exposures I will take extra shots to compensate for the ones that go wrong. Likewise if an opportunity is unlikely to be repeated, I will deliberately shoot more images because I'd much rather have too many than too few. For example when I went to Hayle in May I took about 100 images of the St Vincent amazon parrot in various poses - it's an old bird and the only one in the UK so I may never get another chance, the light was tricky and I knew that some of the images would be spoiled by shadows, by the wire of the aviary or by unsightly backgrounds, I was also experimenting with a new lens and I wanted to be very careful to use a range of exposure values to be sure of getting some shots with good highlight definition in the white feathers of the forehead.
    Likewise on my last visit to Chester I took 77 photos in 7 minutes when the Indian rhino calf 'Komala' and her mother 'Asha' were chasing round their paddock and making the blackbuck herd run around too; in many, many years of zoo visiting I have never seen anything like it - so I took plenty of pictures, knowing that panning on fast moving animals inevitably risks problems with focus, awkward poses and cropped noses and tails. I had examples of all these faults, but no harm was done as I had some good ones too :)
    Of course in the old days, I could only afford a couple of films per zoo visit, 75 images if I were lucky. That made me risk averse. I very rarely took more than 2 pictures of any animal and if the light was poor or the animal was not posing well I just moved on. With hindsight, I wish I had risked a few frames on the small-eared dog at the Jardin des Plantes in 1972 and the Hispaniolan solenodon at Frankfurt in 1973 and the birds of paradise and hummingbirds and Lear's macaws at Len Hill's Birdland and so on (eat your heart out TLD :p). In other words, I don't regret taking too many photos, I now regret the ones I didn't even try to take :(
    In those days the only photographers who could shoot hundreds of images in a day were pros whose clients had deep pockets and it's not surprising that their images were much better than the amateurs'. Now we can all shoot like that if we want to, for the price of a single memory card (if we have computer, software etc) consequently our pictures are getting better and photography as a profession is going the way of the dodo.

    Alan
     
  13. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    Bastard :p

    [​IMG]
     
  14. ThylacineAlive

    ThylacineAlive Well-Known Member

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    I'm in the 300-500+ photo club for an average zoo visit:p

    I still often take between 100-200 photos at Bronx every visit and I go several times a year!

    ~Thylo:cool:
     
  15. bigfoot410

    bigfoot410 Well-Known Member

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    I think as many posters have said above we in the digital age don't have to think about cost with regards to taking pictures. When I actually used a film camera when I was a child I was careful about what I took. When I went to the San Diego Zoo the first time at age 14 it was a big deal I used two rolls of film (48 pictures!). The last time I went to the Central Park Zoo (a MUCH smaller zoo) I took close to 100 pictures. I don't think the 1-3% are the real keepers is that far off. With a digital I seem to experiment more and at a new zoo sometimes I will take pictures of everything!
     
  16. RetiredToTheZoo

    RetiredToTheZoo Well-Known Member

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    I think you said it perfectly. I try to do a little of both and end up doing neither very well, but lean toward the photography aspect. The point I think Arizona Docent was making is slow down and think more about the basic fundamentals of good photography. But as others have said, digital pictures costs nothing, so shoot a lot of a subject with several different settings. The conclusion is shoot a lot of photos, but use good photographic skills and fundamentals. Just don't point and shoot.

    Don't limit yourself too much. The real art of zoo photography is capturing a compelling image in a way that it doesn't appear to have been photographed in a zoo. You would be surprised how many wildlife photos have been published in well respected outdoor and wildlife magazines and elsewhere that were actually shot in zoos and other captive environments. There's a famous photo of a bald eagle shaking water off its head that was published in National Geographic as a wildlife photo that the photographer admitted he shot at the Memphis Zoo. I know of companies in Montana, California, Texas, and elsewhere in the US that rent out trained exotic animals and facilities for wildlife photo shoots. The point being is, just because an animal is captive doesn't mean you can't capture a compelling natural looking photograph.
     
  17. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    Yesterday I visited Tierpark Berlin and today I visited Zoo Berlin... at Tierpark I took 2097 pictures and at zoo 1660. A new personal best of 3757 pictures in two days! :D
     
  18. callorhinus

    callorhinus Well-Known Member

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    It is interesting to make photos, but after that... For me it is rather punishment. I am still sorting out the photos made in September 2014 and even earlier. The most difficult thing is to make an effort and decide to kill the photos which are worse than "very good" in any sense.
     
  19. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

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    Yes indeed, killing your darlings is hard. But it is vital too.
    Remember that you can do what TLD does, keep the ones that are not quite perfect, crop down to one corner and then ask us to try and guess the species :rolleyes:

    Alan
     
  20. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    Oi! I don't see you making any attempt to guess those species after I posted another few clues...... :p