Werribee Open Range Zoo // August 2016
My sister and I took ourselves to Werribee on a beautiful Winter’s day to try the “off-road safari” at Werribee Open Range Zoo here in Victoria. I’d been to Werribee before, but I’d never gone on the safari.
We had a really great safari tour guide, Matthew, who told us about the shift in zoos and wildlife parks away from the traditional attraction sites of the past to a focus on conservation and education, and the animals we saw definitely seemed to benefit from it.
They are given strictly limited human contact (only what conditioning is needed to help keep them manageable and safe) and the environment and species social groups help them to maintain their natural behaviours. It was actually really moving to see how happy and settled they seemed, even when we were driving around near them.
The only part I was disappointed about was that after the tour, we went to see the Lion enclosure but it was largely blocked off. The big cats are my favourite to photograph, so it was hard to take photos that worked from such a distance. I managed to get a couple of photos, but I wasn’t as happy with them.
I’m not really sure what prompted me to try editing them in black and white, I think I just tried it with one of the giraffe photographs and liked how striking the effect was. I did edit a couple of photos in a sort of low contrast, semi-matte colour, boosting the levels of the blues and greens using saturation levels in Lightroom, then selective colour in Photoshop. I made sure whatever I was doing with the colour in Photoshop to keep watching that the whites stayed white, which is always a good guide to keep things looking realistic (unless unrealistic is what you’re going for).
Taking photos of wildlife is, obviously, a completely different skill set to taking convention photos or portraits, and so it’s nice to stretch yourself and do something different!
Melbourne Zoo // January 2015
It has been blistering hot in Melbourne the last week or so, and so it wasn’t the best day to go to the zoo yesterday but my friend Nicole and I persisted. I’ve been waiting to go to the zoo for a long while – it’s a completely different skill set taking photos at the zoo to taking photos at a convention. I guess they both involve waiting for the right moment (which is fundamental in all photography) but there’s a level of patience required with taking photos at the zoo that you don’t have at cons.
I also find that the audience actually plays a huge part in how I photograph conventions, and I’m feeding off the push-pull between the crowd and the people on stage. Whereas a lot of times at the zoo I’m trying to filter out the other people around me – and usually trying to fight for space in amongst everyone!
And, in fairness, I haven’t heard on of an actor refusing to go out on stage because the weather is too hot, and this happened quite a bit at the zoo yesterday (It could happen though, never say never).
So I didn’t get a huge quantity of photos, but I was happy with the ones I did manage to get.
And, funnily enough, I ran into a Canon photography club a few times as we were walking around and they were all carrying these massive L-series super telephoto lenses, something like this, and I felt very jealous and very inadequate!