Fota Wildlife Park: Black and White

These were taken on Tuesday 30th Oct at Fota Wildlife Park. I've been there plenty times before as it's a great day out for all and there are some awesome animals walking in and around the park!

It was extremely cold that day so a lot of the animals were keeping warm indoors however I managed to take a few for a series of Black and White shots. Click for larger view!

D7000 - Tamron 70-300mm lens

Above: Cheetah on the prowl
Below: Emus are probably one of my favourite large birds. They have a great call which is a really bassy style click (kind of like a super slow mo dubstep version of roadrunner's sound). They love to pose as well!

Below: Ostriches are also great birds, pretty elegant when striding along. These, along with the Emus in the park tend to walk nearest the fence so you can get nice and close to them to take some detailed shots.

 Above: I probably have the species wrong here (tip! Do your research while at the park, plenty of information stands and people around to help!) but I think this is a Grey Crested/cheeked Mangabey?. Shooting monkeys or apes can be tricky depending on the time of day. You need a lot of patience and a steady hand. If they are moving try to predict their next climbing location and set up for that using the posts/ trees that are near.

Above: Close up of a European Buffalo horn. These guys are huge. No matter how many times I've been these have always been side on to where you walk so thought I'd try shooting different key parts of the animal. This provided the best mix of tones and textures! 

Here are a few tips when shooting wildlife, these can be used in a park like this (I recommend if you live in or near Cork to go by the way!) or out in the wild.

  • Be patient - animals are not always active, use the time to plan a shot for when they do move. Also look at the shapes of the animals if they are static. For example, the buffalo was just lying down so I just shot a part of it which I may not have been able to if the animal was moving. Another tip is to find out when feeding times are or walk along with one of the park rangers. Wildlife park animals may move/wake up when they hear the walkie talkie going as there may be a possibility of food!
  • Prepare your shots - while animals are unpredictable they will still follow a certain path most of the times. Grazing animals will tend to follow the rest of the herd so wait and see where the leader of the herd goes and set up there. While a faster lens may help most the time get that quick shot it isn't impossible with a slower or cheaper lens. I use a very cheap/old 70-300 (probably under £100 now) and am still able to get some good shots in relatively overcast light (I was shooting at mostly f7.1 to f8)
  • Hold your camera tight! - we all think we're doing this all the time, then daren't go below 1/160 for fear of blurring. I've recently been really paying attention to camera holding techniques and can now go down to maybe 1/40 without getting too much blur. To do this hold your camera with your left hand cupped under the lens but pushing to the right, then counter this by gripping with your right hand but pushing left. Finally press the eyepiece tightly in so there is some pressure on your eyebrow/forehead. This dramatically reduces camera shake (remember to tuck your elbow in as well!) It can take some practice though and feel uncomfortable but will reduce blur!

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