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Backlit portrait of chimp at the zoo

Animal Portrait

One of my favorite places to take my camera is the zoo. I could happily spend all day photographing the animals. And now with my digital camera I can take lots of photos and just delete the shots that are no good.

I have found that the best time of day is as early as possible in the morning before the sun gets too hot. Once that happens the animals tend to take cover in the shade and getting a good photo becomes much harder. Also the zoo is not too crowded at that time.

Backlighting is my favorite for faces, I like to get those highlights in the hair. The metering has to be very precise though to render the face in full detail, especially a dark one like this chimpanzee. The main problem is getting enough light in the eyes. Many a good portrait on a sunny day has been spoiled by black eye sockets. To some extent, getting the light behind the subject helps to cure this.

I used my 300mm zoom to get this picture (it doesn't do to get too close to chimps) which throws the background nicely out of focus. Using longer lenses restricts the depth of field which in this case gives a pleasing effect.

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