I’m taking advantage of some of the weekends in the run up to the 2009 wedding season where I have a “spare” day to do two things. Firstly I’m starting to push my cameras to their limits in tricky shooting situations as preparation for the romantically lit churches and wedding venues around the South of England where I’ll be photographing critical, unrepeatable and emotional moments – and secondly shooting some personal work (OK I know – busman’s holiday) to relax and enjoy myself.

Today I was at Marwell Zoo, home of lovely wedding venue Marwell Hall where I am the photographer for a number of Hampshire weddings every year. Marwell also houses some lovely creatures in modern enclosures and the zoo and it’s keepers are very photographer friendly. My aim in photographing the animals is not to pretend they are in the wild, not to just get a quick snap of them in their zoo habitat but to look for character, shape, an interesting composition, good background and of course some nice light – the kind of things you would expect to see in any portrait of a child, family or pet.

This morning I headed for the reptile enclosure up in the Australian biome which is one of the furthest points from the entrance and where it would be quietest (for longest) allowing me to photograph in a tranquil environment and with the least stress on the animals to allow me to get some lovely images.

Here are three from the day.

This water dragon was posing at the front of the enclosure for a few split seconds until a family entered in through the door after which he scampered up a branch to give a profile view of his body. That gave a nice image but this one taken fractionally before it was disturbed shows the character of this lizard to much more effect.

Oriental Water Dragon (Physignathus cocincinus)

Oriental Water Dragon (Physignathus cocincinus)

Oriental Water Dragon (Physignathus cocincinus)

This Gecko is facinating. I have photographed it before when I was testing the 1Ds MKIII for Canon, but a completely different image – and again I was looking for a portrait. Impossible to get a good full length I opted to show the bulbous bright yellow/orange eyes, the bright head markings and a hint of the sticky feet.

Tokay Gecko (Gekko gecko)

Tokay Gecko (Gekko gecko)

Tokay Gecko (Gekko gecko)

Finally I could not believe my luck when I saw these two stick insects hanging from a branch in the amazing form. Compositionally attractive, and some nice behaviour you can see the larger one looking down. Combined with a good background I’m really pleased with this image.

Giant stick insect

Giant stick insect

Giant stick insect

For the photographers reading this blog all images were shot handheld at 1600 ISO and apertures from f/4 to f/4.5. They are all through glass and have minimal post-production, and none on the creatures themselves.

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