San Francisco Zoo Wildlife Photography Workshop - July 16th, 2023

San Francisco Zoo: Introduction to Wildlife Photography Workshop - Jul 16th, 2023

On a weekend of extreme Bay Area heat, a day at the San Francisco Zoo was a welcome relief from the heat. The overcast and cool morning was a great way to start this fun workshop.

Our group of eager photographers met near the zoo entrance. We introduced ourselves, learned a little bit about each other, and talked about some of the fun that we were going to have today, including a wide variety of pictures that we could create. The zoo is a great place to practice photography skills and learn new ones.

Our first stop after the brief orientation was in the far back of the zoo, as we know that the grizzly bears are typically fed around opening time. We got numerous shots of the bears and then made our way to other areas, spending time with wolves, other bears, and then penguins frolicking in the water. With the penguins, we were able to talk about shutter speeds as they related to the fast-moving animals and try and capture water beading up on their feathers. Following the entertaining penguins, we moved up the hill, hoping to capture some shots of the king of the jungle. The lion remained napping deep in the cave, so we talked about and practiced adjusting camera settings to better capture the lion. Nearby we saw a pygmy hippo slumbering and big rhinoceros. With each exhibit in the zoo, we were able to talk about lighting, shutter speeds, and depth of field. As it was designed, this is very much a hands-on workshop.

From there it was time for a quick break so we wandered over to the zoo café, which offers a wide variety of food and drink. We grabbed a picnic table and talked about all things photography, including upcoming safaris that several people would be attending. After our meal, we photographed the flamingos and even worked on abstract patterns of their feathers to make more unique images. A short walk from there, we saw the lemurs and moved to different vantage points to try and capture interesting images of them moving and jumping around.

Next were some primates. Whether eating or stretching out, they provided poses and activities making us smile, as they seemingly posed. The mandrels, active as always, were next with their colorful snouts.

The day was already seeming to get away from us with so many photographs being created. We were off to the safari next where we watched ostrich, giraffe, and zebra mill about the plains. Beyond shooting the animals, abstract images here were fun and interesting with all the fur and feathers.

The silverback gorillas were not very active today but were absolutely stoic as we watched them in their various hang-out spots. When yawning, their gigantic teeth were readily apparent, and a couple of out quick photographers captured them.

We finished our adventure in a bird aviary. This aviary is great to shoot because it allows us to practice depth of field and shutter speed, while not being inhibited by fencing or other obstructions. Here again, the animals moved in ways that allowed us to create some stunning images. Several of the images captured by the students should proudly be displayed on their home walls soon.

After what just seemed like a couple of hours, the workshop was already over. Everybody gathered for a brief conversation to close out the workshop. About half left for the day and the other half continued to practice shooting in the zoo. Awesome images were had by all and it was another great day at the San Francisco Zoo.

Looking forward to seeing everyone again in future workshops.

Until next time,

Kevin and the rest of the Aperture Academy team

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