It's cold outside . . . There's no kind of atmosphere . . .

Well it's been a while since I last posted here so it's about time the grey matter came out of hibernation.


And, says he, creating possibly the most contrived lead in line ever - talking of hibernation as I sit here typing I do think hibernation would be a great option as the temperatures go sub zero, rain, snow and grey skies dominate the short UK days and inspiration seems itself to have taken an extended holiday.


But this is an ideal time for many types of photography that perhaps aren't our normal style - for one thing later dawns mean even the slumberly challenged of us can be awake at sunrise without getting up at silly o'clock and the longer, darker evenings make it easier for those of us lucky enough to live anywhere north of the UK Midlands to be in with a chance of Northern Light images.


So often people take a look out of the window, see rain or cloud and give up. One of P4M's long standing members John Farnan has just come back from the US. For those not familiar with John's work he specialises in long exposure, mono images - specialises isn't perhaps a strong enough word - he excels at them. He is the only person I know who goes to the US and complains it isn't cloudy.


Rain brings great opportunities too - all you need is a tripod, big umbrella (to keep the rain off the lens) - and preferably a willing assistant to hold it and the reflections from hard urban surfaces like paving slabs, tarmac and even concrete become wonderful reflection creators yours for the taking. Do this at / after sunset and a whole new glorious range of photo opportunities await you. Recent experience tells me something dry to kneel on is also a good idea.


Still not convinced about going out in the cold?  Try some indoor macro work - spend just a few pounds on a bunch of supermarket flowers, get the tripod out so you're free to arrange and compose and there's a whole world of images to be had. Experiment with flash - master isolating your subject by controlling the light, practice your depth of field skills . . . .


Someone once said "There is no such thing as bad weather - just the wrong choice of clothes." - or something like that anyway. Similarly there's no such thing as 'nothing to photograph' - just a lack of seeing opportunity.


I'm not for one moment saying every such image is going to be a best seller - but every such 'not my normal style' image adds to your experience and enjoyment - who  knows - these cold, dark and wet times may just be the thing to set you on a new photographic journey.

Zoos that allow photography

Animals are always a big attraction for amateur and professional photographers.

We do ask that you have permission to sell pictures taken at zoo's and other wildlife sanctuaries. With the help of the community, we can help everyone by getting the right information.

If anyone would like to contribute to the list, please send and email to: with the name of the zoo, location (post code) as well as proof of the ability to sell your image for commercial gain. A short list of animals could also be helpful.

Keep in mind the following when taking pictures of wild animals in zoo's or animal sanctuaries.

- No fences, cages or anything that would hint that they are in a closed/confined space.

-  Please take into account the nature of the picture and avoid flash photography if possible at zoo's and sanctuaries that allow it.

Current list that will allow commercial photography, and has the appropriate accreditation.

Exmoor Zoo

Paignton Zoo (location credit required)

- Living Coasts (location credit required)

- Newquay Zoo (location credit required)

Plymouth Aquarium (not permitted to use their logo, brand identity, or name and no flash photography is allowed)

- Tropical Birdland, Desford, Leicestershire (They have a sign at the entrance that says it is OK to photograph for sale though they do ask for the location to be included in the description.

- Dartmoor Zoo (location credit required)

- Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens (location credit required, accreditation required, agrees that if picture is "magical" You would need to give them the picture which could be used on posters, guide book or advertising, CWPG would use it free of charge)

- Wingham Wildlife Park (location credit required)

- Twycross Zoo (They ask for location credit and ask for use of image for free for their own publicity) 

- The Aspinall Foundation Howletts (location credit required)

- The Aspinall Foundation Port-Lympne (Location credit required)

- Battersea Zoo - London -- (Location credit required - allow Battersea zoo the right to use your images free of charge)

- Blackpool Zoo (Location credit required)

- Paradise Wildlife Park (Location credit required - Asks that some art work be donated when possible to help raise funds for conservation work)

Many thanks to Jay LethbridgeSteev Stamford and Dave Godden who helped contribute to the list.

List updated as of May 4th 2016.

Please note: The Member is the owner of the image(s) uploaded to the site including the copyright therein and if there is any illegalities of the image uploaded by the member this is the members responsibility and the member will be liable. No liability or responsibility will transfer to and will cooperate with all legal requests to the best of their ability.

Enclosures and how to overcome them

Following on from my recent post about photographing captive animals and making the resulting image acceptable to P4M here are a few examples of mine and how I did it.


Close to the wire

Taken with a Sigma 105 macro with the lens pressed right up to the wire mesh (appx 1 inch square) and with an aperture of f4. The combination of large aperture and being right up to the cage has put the wire so far out of focus it has to all intents and purposes vanished. To complete this image though I did need to edit the eye - which being so shiny and in sharp focus had reflections of the wire in it.


However the end result is that we now have an acceptable image that simply wouldn't have worked with other choices of distance, lens or aperture.

Get an angle

This cute baby elephant was around 20 metres away and a series of quite substantial horizontal wires supported at regular intervals by posts as thick as telegraph poles were between us. Shot with a 150 -500 at around the 300 range.

By carefully choosing my angle and using a long lens I was able to zoom in through the gaps in the fence and crop tight enough to loose the fence on the other side of their compound.

Because I didn't need to blur anything, rather physically avoid the wires and posts the choice of aperture was entirely dictated by my desire to shoot with a low ISO and a fast enough shutter speed to prevent camera shake blur.

Glass can be your friend

Quite a lot of zoos now have large glass panels - this is another example of the 'get in close' approach. The trick with glass is to get so close - and preferably have someone shade any light from behind and thus remove any glare.