We are very lucky to be based in Chester which is home to the UK’s number one zoo. I visit a couple of times a year but this time was more exciting because it was my first visit to the new Islands development where some animals were moved to brand new enclosures. This meant more new and exciting photographic opportunities. The Islands development recreated six South East Asian environments to take visitors on a linear expedition across the Islands. My priority for the day was to see my favourite animals, the tigers. They are certainly the most energetic and photogenic animals in the zoo and always present fantastic photo ops. They did not disappoint! In 2015 the zoo got sumatran tiger triplets called Kasarna, Jaya and Topan and on the very warm and sunny Friday that I visited they were play-fighting in the water, I couldn’t have asked for a better photoshoot. It took me a bit of chasing back and forth from one end of the enclosure to the other trying to find them until they finally settled at the front where the glass and water was so I got a prime spot to snap them with my camera.
I used my telephoto lens so that I could get big close ups and capture lots of detail. It is tricky photographing animals with a telephoto lens and no tripod due to the extra wobble caused by zooming in so far and because the lens has an extra layer of glass it means less light can shine onto the sensor. Most affordable telephoto lenses only go as open as an F4-5.6 unless you’re prepared to fork out big time for the few extra stops of light. The other obstacle is the reflections on the enclosure’s glass, since the tiger’s performance attracted a large crowd there were a lot of bright t-shirts around me being reflected in the glass. Fortunately I found good angles most of the time to avoid these reflections on my photos but I would have benefited by bringing a polarizing filter for my lens to help reduce reflections.
Two of the triplets posed wonderfully for the army of photographers pushing their lenses up against the glass. I was really happy with the photos I was taking until one of the worst things happened for any photographer. My camera jammed and the SD card seemingly corrupted. I switched the camera off and on and the card seemed to work again but I wasn’t going to take the risk and swapped cards. I spent the rest of the day with my fingers crossed that my computer will still be able to read the card.
Luckily it did and I didn’t lose any of the 600 photos I took. If you’re near Chester at all this summer then I highly recommend a visit to the zoo!
Emily Roberts, Junior Creative