Friday, March 14, 2014

Making the most of a distracting zoo environment with a Fuji 55-200mm zoom and the X-T1

One afternoon in Florida we took a break and visited a local wildlife preserve hoping to get in some fun photography of the animals. Problem was all the animals were in cages with very narrow openings in their wire fencing, and in most cases the backgrounds were inappropriate and distracting. To get around this problem I put my longest lens, the 55-200mm zoom, on the Fuji X-T1. Zooming the lens to its longest focal length helped minimize the obstruction from wire cages.  I also set the lens to its most open aperture, and positioned it as close as possible to the wire cages. This gave me the lowest depth of field and threw the wire cages mostly out of focus.

This Florida Panther was my most difficult image to deal with because the wire fencing was right over his face. 
You can see the original photos below. The most distracting  fencing was in the Florida Panther shot because he was so close to it.

These are the original photos of some of the animals with their distracting elements. I limited myself to head shots to keep the lens at its longest focal length and minimize the focus on the foreground wire fencing. The focus point was placed on the eye of each animal. 

I found some tropical palm leaves growing nearby and photographed them totally out of focus to substitute as backgrounds later in Photoshop.

For all the bird portraits I created a selection mask around the head to eliminate the background and substitute one of my out-of-focus palm leaf photos instead. Later I put a vignette around the images to concentrate the attention around the birds face. 

Canebrake Rattlesnake photographed through a Plexiglas window. For this one I had to deal with some odd lighting.

Green Heron

Green-winged Macaw
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  1. Very nice work. I like that your processing isn't overdone. The images look natural.

  2. The second to last shot is a Green Heron.

    1. Thanks. Matt! I was hoping someone out in cyberland would have the answer.