Enclosures and how to overcome them

By Steev Stamford

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.



This image was taken through glass that thus far has been thick enough to keep the tigers and visitors apart. Glass this thick does often add a colour cast (normally green) and requires you to get the camera lens absolutely square on - or risk distortion and reflections.

One problem with glass is prints - animal prints on one side - kids' finger prints on the other. A small cloth will cure the latter - moving to another place on the glass is the only real cure for the former.


All of these images are in my portfolio.