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On March 12th and 13th I took a Workshop on Wildlife Photography at the Utah Hogle Zoo. The first class was held on Friday night and was focused in the classroom on photography techniques. Unfortunately it was a bit more of a beginner workshop than I thought it would be. The first part of the class was focused on Aperture, ISO, and Shutter Speed settings and how each operates. It didn't help that many of the people in the class were actually beginners and didn't quite know how to operate these things. I must say though that the most frustrating part was to look at people who had amazing lenses but yet didn't know how to use their camera. But it gave me some eye candy to scope out other people's camera equipment and add to my wish list of items I want to buy.

The second half of the class started going more into things like composition, tips for approaching wildlife photography, and things to look for which is what I was really hoping to get out of the class. My dilemma with wildlife and action photography is I am so worried about missing "the shot" that I just keep on shooting away with my continuous shutter which means I sometimes sacrifice the composition with the thought that I can crop it later. I need to remember to be patient, find the right background or foreground and patiently wait for the right shot.

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The second day of the class was a full day of shooting in the zoo. These shots of the male tiger, Kazek, were quite an example catching the exact right moment in wildlife photography and I am so thankful I was able to get these shots. He was ignoring us most of the time and was not too photogenic. The keepers brought some meat for him in order to lure the big guy towards the front of the cage. There were many people in the class but I managed to snag a spot by the fence that was off to the side of where he was eating. He primarily kept his head down but then (I think in annoyance at all of the clicking cameras and flashes) he started looking my way and licking his chops. Many of my photos look like he is growling and snarling at us, but I have to admit this was not the case. He was actually just licking the meat out of his teeth and off his snout, but his eyes told a different story. They had such a fierceness to them that showed his utter annoyance at our rude interruption of his meal.

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Now this photo of one of the Tiger cubs was a different story. He was extremely angry at us, or should I say one of us. This photo was taken along the back fence area where you could get quite a bit closer to the fence then in the front. One of the students in the class had a huge camera lens and tripod which this little guy did not like one bit. He started out by pacing around quite a bit and then he just started hissing and growling. It was a fun shot to catch, especially because I was directly in front of him but yet he was hissing over at the guy next to me.

Near the end of the day I went back to the tiger cages to get some more photos once it started raining on the grounds. This was a great chance to get these shots of the mama, Basha, below. Everyone was hunkered down under their shelter which was close to the front fence. I was able to get close enough to the fence and she was far enough away that with a wide aperture I was able to make the fence disappear entirely which was nearly impossible when shooting the male tiger and the cubs above because they were right up against the chain link.

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I don't mean to be partial to the tigers but they were my favorite animals to shoot that day. This is because they are absolutely gorgeous animals but also because they had the best environment to shoot around. The elephant habitat was extremely difficult because almost every shot of the baby included unappealing cables from the fence, the giraffes were only inside the dark barn which forced me to use my on-camera flash, and the monkeys were all behind the glass which posed quite a few difficulties as well. But here are some shots I am still very pleased with getting.
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Overall, I am not sure that the photography workshop was worth the $150 I paid, but I feel that I did still walk away with more knowledge than I went there with so I will not say it was a total flop. I also left with some images I am very proud of. One more bonus of the workshop was interaction up close and personal with a few animals including some gorgeous birds. I will close with a few shots of these guys.
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Philina Saltas
04/12/2010 7:54pm

Wow, Jess! These are some awesome shots. You have an excellent eye. Too bad about the chain link, and impressive B&W on that top shot; that was a great choice for it.
Congratulations!
Phi

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Nancy Logan
06/12/2010 11:15am

Great photos!!! Is this workshop held annually at the zoo and who would be the contact to attend this workshop?

Thanks,

Nancy

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