|Shooting birds in the aviaries is a bit like shooting ducks in a pond. We spent only about 30 minutes and got these.|
|The last two images are those of the bald eagle and her chick (whom she was very protective). Light was terrible (near sunset) but I had to include them because the chick was apparently a very rare occurrence.|
|Does it seem to you I like goofy expressions on my hoofed friends?|
|The polar bears were behind fairly dirty glass, so this was the best I could do.|
|I had to include these, even with the wire in between, because this baby zebra was only six days old and very adorable. His mom looked on protectively.|
|Some more goofy looking hoofed beasts.|
|A couple images of the baby giraffe taking his meal. Contrast these with the giraffe images from the Wild Animal Park.|
|This buck really loved his fawn -- apparently she was part of his harem and he was just happy about it. Come to think of it, so would I be.|
|Taken through glass using available light, I still think these came out pretty good.|
|The D30 does a good job with the subtle color variations in this magnificent bird.|
|Shot mostly with my 100mm macro (effective 160mm on the D30) and the lens pressed tight to the glass.|
|The somewhat mediocre image on the far right
is of the world's deadliest snake, the Taiwan.
There is controversy about what constitutes "deadly" -- is it the amount of people killed, the toxicity of the venom, the aggressiveness of the snake or a combination of factors? But this snake is both extremely aggressive, very toxic, and when it strikes it bites multiple times (with venom in each bite). According to the zoo information, no one without treatment would survive an attack.
It was very active within the enclosure, moving with a speed that none of the other snakes exhibited. It gave me the creeps.
|Flamingoes are always fun to photograph, with their bright colors and long necks.|
|Hue Mea, the only surviving giant panda cub
to be born in the United States, just a few months away from her second
It was difficult to get good images due to the shuffling of people in and out of the viewing area. I had about five minutes to snap what I could, where she happened to be at the time (which wasn't a very good position).
|This is Shi Shi, the male panda.|
|I had to include this image of the meercat
because one of our own cats is named Timon, after the meercat in The Lion
I'm not sure what the other deer like creatures are, but they posed beautifully.
|These birds were all photographed through their wire enclosures. If you get close enough to the wire, it will disappear (assuming your depth of field isn't too great, so don't stop down).|
|Lessons Learned:||I shot more images in one day than I had ever done before --
over 2000 images. Needless to say, we spent a lot of time at our car
downloading into the computer and clearing off our microdrives. What
you see here is only a very small representation of the images I got (with
a good many more keepers).
It may be obvious but it's worth iterating: you want the longest lens you can afford and handle. I shot nearly all of these images with my 70-200 (effective 112-320mm on the D30) and various combinations of my 1.4x and 2x TCs. As you can see here it wasn't too close -- many times I could have used more.
If I made a living doing zoo stuff (or even lived close to a zoo) I'd seriously consider getting the 100-400mm Canon IS. While it wouldn't offer any more range than my lens plus TCs, it would be a lot more convenient.
I also found you can shoot through glass and wire cages pretty effectively. The worst thing was a wire fence too far away to get close to, like with the zebra images. Unfortunately, there were a few enclosures like that and most of the time I didn't even bother to take the shot.
The San Diego Zoo is a world class facility, and if you're planning on doing it right you need more than one day. I'd have loved to have gone back one more time (but then I would have missed the other things we saw).