Jacksonville Zoo


The Jacksonville Zoo is a great place for photography.  There are always new things to discover with the animals, interesting people pictures, and a great variety of botanicals.


Your longest lens, a polarizer and tripod.   Most of the animals will be 10' or more away from you so you will need a zoom if you have it.
Extra cards and batteries.
A hat
Food and Water are available in shops and restaurants but a water bottle is a good idea.

Reflections in the glass can be a challenge.   A polarizer will help reduce reflections in glass and If you have a hand held diffuser or screen it might come in handy.  You can also minimize reflections by placing the lens shade right up against the glass. However, that limits your composition options.

There are great sidewalks everywhere if you bring a cart. walker, etc.

The public viewing areas are the best places from which to take pictures.    You will be shooting through glass at most of these and the best advice is to bring paper towels and glass cleaner....You'll need it.

Get there early.   Lots of people arrive at 10a.m.   JCC usually meets at 8:45 at entrance and scatters from there.
There is a lot more to shoot other than animals.....people, reflections, plants.....   Don't forget the butterfly garden early in the morning while they are still warming up their wings.

Bathrooms throughout the park.   The first one is to the right just after you get through the ticket gate.
Pick up a map at the gate.    You will use that many times.

One photo challenge is shooting through cages/wire.
How do you minimise the impact of the fence in your shots?
Here’s a few quick tips
Switch to Manual Focusing – one challenge you may face shooting through any kind of fence is that your camera may not know what to focus on – the fence or the object behind it. Switch to manual focus mode and you’ll be in complete control of what is in and out of focus.
Get close the the Fence – ideally your best bet is to try to make the fence so out of focus that it can be barely seen in your shot. To do this one strategy is to get up very close to the fence – so close your lens has no chance of focusing on it. It may not be possible to be right up against a fence (shooting a lion at the zoom may mean you have other barriers in place for your own safety) but the closer the better.
Use a Large Aperture – choose a large aperture (making the number of your aperture as small as possible) will help to narrow the depth of focus and will hopefully through the lens even further out of focus.
Wait Until your Subject is away from the fence – if your subject is moving around behind the fence – wait until they are a little further back from the fence to take the shot. The closer they are to the fence the more the fence will be in focus
Position Your Lens to Shoot Through Larger Gaps – This one isn’t rocket science – but if the fence has largish openings you’ll do better to position these gaps in the middle of your frame.

  1. Avoid Reflections – if shooting through a part of a fence where there are reflections from the sun or other lights coming off the fence you’ll find the fence will become even more noticeable. As a result try to find a part of the fence that is shaded – or get someone to stand in a way that casts a shadow on the fence.
  2. Incorporate the fence into your composition – it may be that the fence can become an important part of your composition – so consider breaking all the above rules to try that out!


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