At the Zoo: Who is Really on Exhibit?

Most visitors to the zoo go to view exhibits and learn about exotic animals and their habitats. When I go to the zoo, I’m watching the visitors. Yes, three of them are my ebullient children running ahead to the play structure that awaits somewhere in the middle of the park.

Shoe Protector 1/40sec; F/18; ISO-500; 69mm

Shoe Protector
1/40sec; F/18; ISO-500; 69mm

Mostly, though, I’m observing the strangers. At a zoo, there is an interesting mash-up of cultures, generational ages, aesthetics, and human behaviors that never leaves me disappointed. I try to clear my mind of expectations, and become open to the experience of who is at the zoo. I aim to capture them and their details, nonchalantly.

Superman At the Zoo 1/200 sec.; F/11; ISO-400; 24mm; Metering Mode: Center Weighted Average

Superman At the Zoo
1/200 sec.; F/11; ISO-400; 24mm; Metering Mode: Center Weighted Average

I am acquainted with a fellow photographer in my area who frequents our zoo. He captures lovely images of the parakeets mating; the polar bears pacing in their aquatic enclosure; the zebras eating hay. He posts these images on Flickr, where I follow his colorful but repetitive photostream. I appreciate his persistence and his camera technique. His images remind me of what I need not capture while I am at the zoo: another photo of the same animals inside their exhibits.

Jazz Hands Photo Bomb 1/50 sec; F/9; ISO-500; 135mm; Metering Mode: Pattern

Jazz Hands Photo Bomb
1/50 sec; F/9; ISO-500; 135mm; Metering Mode: Pattern

In one particular exhibit, I was disappointed with how poorly lit the room was. I could barely read the posted information signs near the glass windows of the rare and unusual creatures. The dim lighting did, however, offer me a venue for making some abstract light paintings. Here is my favorite from a handful of them.

Light Painting 13 sec.; F/9; ISO-1250; 18 mm; Metering Mode: Pattern; White Balance: Manual

Light Painting
13 sec.; F/9; ISO-1250; 18 mm; Metering Mode: Pattern; White Balance: Manual

2 responses to “At the Zoo: Who is Really on Exhibit?

  1. Interesting perspective! The zoo is a great place to people watch as you say – and I love that you’re remembering to capture your children in these images as well. Great memories for them to look back on!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s