Once in awhile, you have a lucky day trip and catch some tropical color at the zoo. Getting an image you like is often about luck more than good management. Photography at the zoo is proof positive of that statement. You just never know what you’re going to get.
Last week I took a day trip to the North Carolina zoo. It’s a place I’ve visited several times before, and more photographer friendly than most. One of the very cool exhibits is a tropical aviary. You can walk around inside so there is no glass or wire between the photographer and his or her exotic subject. That’s the good news. The bad news is that there must be 100 birds in there, and your chances of getting that perfect shot of any particular bird… not so good.
I look for this brilliant female Eclectus parrot is every trip. Sometimes she doesn’t even show herself, more often she’s visible, but there’s no chance to get a good shot. But this trip was different, I’m following the path, and as I come around a bend, there she is, perched on a branch at nearly eye level, and not more than 4 feet away. Cool as she can be, and totally undisturbed by passers by. You just can’t ask for a better opportunity.
I had my Sigma big zoom, 120 x 400mm with me, expecting to be maxed out all the time. That’s usually the setup, but this time I had to take it all the way down to 120mm, and take a step back to get the overall shot. The closeup portrait was done at 300mm, a more normal setup. Since Ms Eclectus Parrot was so laid back and relaxed, I was able to move around and get multiple shots. That’s a huge bonus when it comes to picking the shot to share with the world. There’s always things going on in the frame that are easily missed in the heat of moment. Burned out highlights, or shadows that effect the composition, sometimes part of the structure that detracts from a natural look. Having that few minutes of extra time to set up and compose the shot makes all the difference.
The result is a shot that doesn’t require a lot of processing, and really shows off the vibrant colors. In this species, the females are red and a purplish blue, while the males are mostly vibrant green. An interesting, and somewhat extreme example of sexual dimorphism.
Always a good thing to capture a little bit of nature. Brightens up the day for me, and hopefully for you as well.