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!
“Someone told me it’s all happening at the zoo” Paul Simon
As promised, I have edited some more pictures from my trip to the zoo.
I’m rapidly deciding that the Sumatran Tigers are my favourite. I love the environment they have them in at the Melbourne Zoo, it’s beautiful. And the two male cubs who were there on the day I took photos were gorgeous.
I’m really trying to be conscious of not “over-processing” my photos too much, but the temptation is definitely there. I’m also trying not to compare myself with other photographers, but that is going to take a long time to grow out of.
Baby Elephant Expedition
On the morning of the 17th of January, 2013 Royal Melbourne Zoo celebrated the arrival of an 130kg baby elephant calf born to Asian Elephant Num-Oi.
Both Mum and bub were doing so well, that on the 19th and 20th people were invited to come and see the baby elephant getting used to his new environment and bonding with Mum. It was a bright Summer weekend in Melbourne, and still school holidays so I knew it would be busy. But I couldn’t resist an opportunity to try to take photos of the new arrival!
On Sunday I dutifully trooped into town with all my gear and stood in line with everyone else waiting to get a glimpse of the little guy. He didn’t disappoint!
He seemed a little unsteady, and stuck close to Mum the whole time. She was very protective, and it was lovely to see them bonding.
It was a uniquely challenging photo experience. It was so bright and the glare from the sand (not to mention the dust clouds Mum threw up to keep the baby cool!) made visibility difficult. It was so crowded too, so finding a good shooting place was difficult. But I loved it, and I’m glad I went.
I took other photos while I was there, which I will blog about soon. I need to keep finding these opportunities around to keep shooting. That’s my battle cry this year – Keep Shooting!