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Friday, October 31, 2014

Capturing Our Happiness: Off To The Zoo!

Summarizing today's post: Photos from our recent trip to the NC Zoo, happiness in photography, & some tips for taking full-on sun photographs.

zoo, family
shot at 50mm, ISO 200, f/10, 1/200th of a second, ambient light mixed with on-camera fill
It has been forever since I have been to a zoo. I remember going when I was in middle school, but can't remember exactly when or where (it was a field trip I believe). Talking to Pinky about it one day a few months ago, we decided to make a plan to go. She hadn't been in a very long time either. 

We did a little research, and decided it only made sense to go to the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, since it is the closest place to us (here's the link if you are interested). It's a little more than an hour's drive from convenient! Can't believe we've never been.

I think having kids gives you an excuse to do things you wouldn't otherwise do sometimes, and this was no exception. We talked it over with Gavin, and although he went to the NC Zoo a few years ago with his mom and stepdad, he was all excited about it. Hooray! 

African Lion
shot at 200mm, ISO 200, f/8, 1/100th of a second
We arrived at the zoo at about noon on a Saturday and the weather was beautiful. We had loaded up with sunscreen because the sun was out in force. The temperature was very comfortable in the mid 70s, and we never got overheated at all during our trip. 

The photograph at the top of the page is of my two babies leaning up against the railing outside the lion's den. Shooting in full sun can be a challenge (see here). The first photo I took was horrible because Gavin and Pinky's faces turned out too dark (I tried using only available light). This was due in part to the hats they were cast a nice dark shadow across their faces. 

I didn't have loads of camera equipment with me to solve this problem, so I simply used my on-camera flash to lighten their faces a bit. Problem solved. I used this technique thru-out the day whenever I wanted to take a photo of them when we were out in the sun. It's all about balancing available light with your own added light.

It makes me smile to look at that photograph. They were having a good time...can't you tell?

I had to include a photo of the king of the jungle as well. You can see this stellar African lion just relaxing in the shade. I had to zoom in on him because he was in the back of the den. He wasn't interested in socializing. 

Afrian elephant, zoo
shot at 170mm, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/500th of a sec, ambient light only
Now it was a different story with this sweet girl! This young African elephant was all playful as her trainer was telling the crowd a few things about her daily routine. Talk about personality...she had it. It was awesome to see this beautiful 800 pound creature interact with him (and with us as well).

There was so much to see, I could never show it all here. So much to enjoy, to learn, to soak in. It was a nice day to say the least. I remembered to take my camera to capture some of it, and therefore we can look back and smile from time to time. Happiness increased and prolonged by photography? Yes, I would say! I'm still smiling :)

ice cream, zoo
shot at 56mm, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/80th of a sec, ambient light only
Before leaving we stopped to enjoy some ice cream from one of the local vendors. What a refreshing treat. Little bud sure did enjoy it (may have been the best part of the trip for him!)

It was a nice day. We encourage you to try it sometime!

Some tips for your trip to the zoo:
  • Take sunscreen and a hat
  • Wear some good walking shoes
  • Take a bottle or two of water and pack it in a backpack, it'll save you a buck (or twelve!)
  • Plan your trip in fall or spring
  • Arrive early
  • Remember your camera!
Thanks for reading, and have a nice Friday!


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