How I Got The Shot


*Click on the image to make it larger

In the last How I Got The Shot, I explained how to effectively blur out fencing when shooting zoo animals in fenced or barred habitats. Most zoos are getting away from the fence and bar enclosure opting for plexiglass. Shooting through plexiglass has a different set of problems — most notably, reflections. The best way to eliminate reflections spoiling your picture is to put your lens right up, tight to the glass.

It’s impossible to get plastic, tulip style lens hoods close to the glass so I choose to use either an aftermarket rubber lens hood or a product called, LensSkirt.

The above picture of the Orangutan and her baby was shot through plexiglass using a rubber lens hood like the one below.

Rubber lens hoods screw onto the lens filter threads, so you need to purchase one that is the same size as the filters that your lens uses. These lens hoods expand out and collapse down so that you can put them tight and flush to the glass without vignetting.

Another product I’ll often use is called a LensSkirt. This product again covers the glass and eliminates reflections. It takes a bit longer to set up but once set up, works very effectively.

LensSkirt comes in two sizes. The smaller version above will fit most lenses. If you’re using a large zoom/telephoto lens, use the larger version below.

Finally, I want to mention that it’s best to try to keep your lens pointed perpendicular to the glass — especially if the plexiglass enclosure is for a mighty animal like a gorilla or polar bear. The stronger the animal, the thicker the glass and if you shoot sideways through the glass, your image will be distorted and focus will be soft. Move, so you’re able to shoot straight through. Angling left or right, up or down, will distort and soften your image.

Gear: Nikon D500 with Nikon 70-200mm F2.8 Lens
Settings: Manual Mode with Auto-ISO
1/50 sec, F5.6, iso: 1600 at 200mm
Spot metering — metered momma’s face.
Single point focus – focused on the momma’s eye.
Shot RAW and processed in Lightroom – nothing out of the ordinary.

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