I got this shot of a male Hamadryas Baboon at the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia South Carolina. This big male was just chilling out, soaking up a few rays in the morning. It was near perfect light, against a clean backdrop so the image just composed itself. Riverbanks is a very photographer friendly location. Many of the exhibits are like this one, with no glass or wire screen to obstruct the shot. If you can be patient you’ll usually get some kind of decent shot.
Primates are one of my favorite subjects. Always so expressive and active. You do need a long lens, this shot was done with a Sigma 120-400mm, but at only 250mm, or 375mm in full frame equivalent. With any wildlife photography there is a certain element of luck as to how the animals behave on the day you’re there. That’s what makes if fun, sometimes the planets align and give you a great shot, sometimes not. Whether you get the magic shot or not, it’s always interesting. Compared to hiking into the deep woods it’s an easy and low stress way to spend a day. If you do get a great shot, just count that as a bonus.
Riverbanks is a nice compact and efficiently designed zoo. Lots of exhibits reasonably close together with plenty of spots to set up a tripod. I usually go during the week when traffic is light and there’s plenty of room to move around. Zoos are really for kids, so you don’t want to set up your gear in a way that makes it harder for the children to see. Once in a while I’ve let a child take a peek through the telephoto lens for a closeup look. Anything that helps them appreciate the animals is a good thing in my book, and who knows, maybe one will become interested in wildlife photography. That would be another bonus.