Oh Man! We back at the Zoo – AGAIN!

Well in fact yes we are….

Last week I hosted a group at the San Francisco Zoo on behalf of the North American Nature Photography Association and their Meetup program. I also offer this as a free “meet and greet” as part of my own field workshop program.

As I have written in past articles, the Zoo is a wonderful place to practice your photography skills for wildlife as well as observing animal behavior. Mind you, I realize these are not the same behaviors you’d find in the “wild” but its a great place to start.

Additionally it offers the opportunity to explore many other photographic skills. When I first meet with a group I explain that we all know what a Giraffe, Hippo or Lion looks like. You can find one in any magazine or text book, or gee, even the internet!

So why not steer yourself into another direction? Have you ever taken the time to really look closely at an animal’s fur? Or a bird’s plumage? It can be amazing in its intricacies! The photo ops for this are unlimited, particularly if you’re into abstracts…

Take this Marabou Stork for example…only a face a “mother could love”…  _H2L0218



But what if you look at little closer. “Dial in” with a longer lens…see the picture within the picture.



Look at the intricate detail! The layering, patterns, textures, tonality. I called this one “Nature’s piano keys” because that’s what I saw in my “creative mind” when looking at this wonderful creature.



Here are some other examples.

The afternoon light on a tiger’s face… what is she thinking?


Or this feather pattern of a White Pelican…



And some of my favorite close-ups…a Flamingo preening it’s feathers  (This print is on my wall)



The zoo offer’s many other benefits to a photographer, beginner or advanced. It can open your creative mind, particularly if your in a creative slump. Just dial in…put that long lens on and go for it.

If this appeals to you and you’re in the area, check out my dates at the Zoo and please join me. More info here




The Zoo – a great place to practice!

Tiger eyes

The Tiger’s Eyes

The other day I took a client to the San Francisco Zoo to practice  photographing animals. My client has an upcoming trip to Africa and will be taking a photo safari. Since it is a once in a life time event for him he was looking for tips on how to be the most effective he could be.

African Crane

African Crane Crown Plumage

I covered the various concepts and techniques with him and we had a great time. To name just a few….

  • Fill the frame
  • Focus on the eyes
  • Concentrate on particular attributes of the animal
  • Use a fast shutter speed (high ISO if needed to increase shutter speed)
African Crane

African Crane Plumage

In addition to his practicing, I was able to squeak out a few of my own images that you see here. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do every time I’m at the zoo.

If you’d like to join me for a few hours and pick up some tips visit my website under the “Workshops” tab. The tabs are on the right of this screen.

Join me! I go to the San Francisco Zoo most Wednesdays where I hold a Free Camera Walk!!!!!



SF Zoo Camera Walk August 3 2012


A nice day with an old friend…

I met Glenn, an old friend and compatriot at the gate. We hadn’t seen each other in years so it was great to catch up and spend the day shooting.

After setting our cameras we were ready to see what we could find.

First stop was the large primate exhibit. The Gorillas were in their yard and they knew the routine. Sometimes posing and at other times acting quite shy and turning their backs in us. The girls were in the “yard” and the kid was running around as kids do. It wasn’t long before the big silverback came out to check over his brood. After his ’rounds’ he went back into the house. Maybe he had the Olympics on or something. I love tying to capture the various expressions the gorillas exhibits. I’m a sucker for applying humanistic attributes to animals and the gorillas didn’t disappoint.

We moved on to the big cat section and saw a Siberian Tiger and a couple of Lions. I was able to catch a pretty good portrait of the “Old Man” just hanging out.

We strolled around leisurely taking a shot here and there. The zoo wasn’t too crowded and with a bit of high fog we had pretty good conditions. After visiting the aviary where Glenn got an eyeful of a rather large Anaconda (he doesn’t like snakes) we finished off at the Lion house.

Before we realized it, the afternoon was upon us and it was time to hit the road and head home.

What a nice day.

Next up: Mini Workshop – August 11th at Point Reyes (click here for more info)