It has been several years since I last roamed the Oklahoma City Zoo’s winding paths. However long it has been, I can definitely say it has been too long. It has come a long, long way since my childhood days. Walking in to the sight of Monkey Island is a treasured memory, but the adult is much happier with more modern, humane displays. Growing up, the zoo was a place to see the animals. Today, conservation and education take the lead.
My son and I arrived as the gates opened. The crowd was already quickly growing, but we were in and roaming about in just a couple of minutes. There is a lot of construction happening in the central section of the zoo. This will become “Expedition Africa” but, for now, it is “Hard Hat Haven”. This is shaping up to be a marvelous and much-needed makeover. I am excited to see the end product.
The modern exhibits are designed for the safety and comfort of the animals. This often means compromising a clear view which can make picture taking a challenge. Whether it is a mesh, net, or variation of glass wall, there are ways to work with the material to get a decent image. The trick is to know your camera and the tools at hand.
Mesh or netting can be overcome by utilizing the power of depth of field. So long as you can get focus on your subject, you can use a narrow depth of field to cause the material between your lens and the subject to “disappear”. Setting your camera to a large aperture (smaller f/stop number) like f/2.8 means it will focus in a more specific range or distance. Unless the subject is immediately adjacent to the barrier, this should work. You might see the pattern in the image, but it will be nearly transparent.
For glass or similar clear barriers, position yourself to mitigate any glare for a clearer view. In many circumstances, you can use a polarizing filter to help get a clearer view as well. Asking someone to stand between a light source and the glare it is creating can often work wonders, too.
Remember Where You Are
The zoo can be a very busy place. Remember the people who are trying to enjoy their visit as well. Give them a chance by not blocking a view for too long. Maybe even show the kids (with parental permission) the amazing shot you just captured. But, most importantly, be kind to the animals. Don’t tap on the glass or taunt them. A little respect for everyone, please.