BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Jeanine M. Bailey
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/26/2007

Zoo Photography

I'm VERY new to the world of photography, and I'm having a blast learning from all the wonderful people on BP! We are heading to the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium this week, and I was wondering if you all could share any tips and suggestions for taking pictures while I'm there. I am using a Canon Rebel XT with an EF 28-135 lens. I'm also planning on bringing my sister-in-law's 70-300 lens. Thanks so much!!

To love this question, log in above
8/18/2008 6:26:28 AM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
Contact Carlton
Carlton's Gallery
  Hello Jeanine,
Take a tripod to the Zoo and use the 70-300 lens. Be patient to get some animated shots. When shooting through glass, keep the lens against the glass to prevent reflections.
In the aquarium, you will also be shooting through glass with low light so you may have to bump up your ISO to 800 or 1000 and shoot wide open (f/2.8 or f/4) to try to keep your shutter speed at 1/60s (when hand holding). You can brace yourself against the glass as well. I have gotten away with a monopod at the Seattle aquarium since they are easy to maneuver and don't take up space and then I can shoot at slower shutter speeds to get more DOF or lower my ISO setting.
Have fun - Carlton

To love this comment, log in above
8/18/2008 8:42:46 AM

W.    What Carlton says, Jeanine. Plus: always shoot with a hood!
(Need one? Get one here FREE:

Have fun!

To love this comment, log in above
8/18/2008 9:22:58 AM

Kristy A. Keene
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/29/2006
  Hey Jeanine!
Of course, a tripod is a must. Also, if there is a lot of glass exhibits, you might want to invest in a rubber lens hood to hold against the glass. It does a wonderful job of eliminating the glare. Another important thing to remember is that zoos often don't provide a lot of shade, so going midday will produce harsh lighting in your photos. I would suggest going early morning or late evening. But, of course, the most important thing of all is to have fun and take TONS of photos!
Hope this helped you!

To love this comment, log in above
8/18/2008 9:23:48 AM

Jeanine M. Bailey
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/26/2007
  Thank you all very much!!

To love this comment, log in above
8/18/2008 4:37:55 PM


BetterPhoto Member
  Photography is not a world, its an Island. Here its like survivor, GOOD LUCK!!

To love this comment, log in above
8/19/2008 2:39:43 AM

Robert Brosnan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/17/2003
  Hi Jeanine,
You should call the zoo and see if tripods are allowed. Some zoos have a policy of no tripods without their permission. Our local area zoo does not allow tripods during a regular visit. Perhaps you might get away using a monopod.

To love this comment, log in above
8/19/2008 5:11:01 AM

Mary Beth Aiello
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/19/2006
Contact Mary Beth
Mary Beth's Gallery
  Jeanine --

I've been to the Pittsburgh Zoo several times, and you can bring a tripod. You also need a long lens, as suggested. And bring your fastest lens too. The facility housing monkeys, orangatans, baboons is quite dark, so you'll need the tripod and fast lens. Also be patient, and you'll get some terrific shots. Be sure, too, to check out the penguins and seals. Cute. Happy shooting, Jeanine.

To love this comment, log in above
8/19/2008 6:18:44 AM

David Miranda
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/1/2006
  While your're at it, head over to the Pittsburgh Aviary. You'll be up close and personal with some rarely seen birds. To repeat, use a tripod. Be concious of back grounds also. If the Spectacled Owls cooperate you can catch them snacking on mice. It's a great place to get some tight shots of many birds including a snowy Owl and Bald Eagle. Wide open is the way to go due to the distance between bird and BG.

To love this comment, log in above
8/19/2008 9:48:10 AM

Bunny Snow
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
Contact Bunny
Bunny's Gallery
  While a polarizer filter will also help reduce the glare and add saturation, low light makes its use impossible due to losing two stops.

My lens wasn't particularly fast with this capture at the New England Aquarium in Boston. Because the exhibit was already incredibly dark, I did not use a polarizer. But, I had a tripod which I turned into a monopod because of the crowds and moved next to a wall to help brace the tripod turned "monopod."

To love this comment, log in above
8/20/2008 5:35:00 AM

eric brown   i have been to this zoo its a nice place my suggestion is to double back I got a great tiger shot the third time I walked around their little path an if you have kids with you I got a great shot of a child's reflection in the glass of the wave pool ( wave crashing from a bove looked awsome) unfortnetly its a kid I dont know would be alot cooler if it was some one I knew thats my 2 cents worth have a great time

To love this comment, log in above
8/21/2008 8:00:37 AM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.