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Wild Lights (Zoo) Tips

Wild Lights Tips

Since the shoot is at the zoo, you might want to come early and take animal shots before dark. See the page called “Zoo Tips” for more tips on shooting at the zoo during the day.

Because long exposures are required for most shots in the dark, you should bring a tripod or plan on spending time finding places to prop your camera while you shoot.

Tripods are definite tripping hazards, especially in the dark and if someone trips over your tripod, it can destroy your camera or cause injury. I suggest attaching glow sticks to the legs to make them visible. I also have reflective tape on mine.

Most cameras with Image Stabilization/Vibration/Shake Control, etc. work better with it turned off when the camera is on a tripod. Try this at home before the outing.

Cold weather diminishes the power of batteries, so bring spares and keep them in your pocket to stay warm. I believe there are some AA batteries that handle cold weather better than others and are labeled as such (Energizer Ultimate Lithium).

It is handy to have a flashlight with you when shooting in the dark. I use a dorky, but handy ball cap visor LED light.

Dress loosely and in layers. Top layer should be a wind resistant material. Next to the skin, polypropylene “wicking” undergarments keep perspiration away from the skin, which keeps you warmer. Wear gloves without fingers or those with tacky surfaces to keep your camera from slipping out of your hands. Walgreens had cheap heating packs that stay warm for hours that you can use to keep hands and batteries warm. Cabela's has some that are supposed to work for 7 hours.

The higher the ISO, the faster your camera will get the shot – but then there is more chance for a noisy picture. So for these on-tripod shots, I like low ISO. Before the Wild Lights outing, go outside and shoot some night scenes and see what ISO works best with your camera. Try exposures up to 15 seconds. Noise reduction, either in camera or in Photoshop tends to remove some detail in the picture. Very small apertures can sometimes produce a starburst effects on lights.

I usually only use my 18-140 kit lens. The 18mm gives a bit of a wide angle.

I usually use shutter priority so I can set the exposure time and the camera will adjust the aperture to match, but the tech savvy folks will probably use Manual settings. Again, try this at home to see what works best for you.

A remote release allows you to activate the shutter without moving the camera, but you can also use the “timer setting” to delay the shutter a couple of seconds.


If you go inside the aquarium or any other buildings, you can get condensation in your camera. Putting the camera in a gallon zip lock bag before you go in and letting the camera warm up before you take it out of the bag can help. This can take almost 10 minutes. My recommendation is that you keep your camera warm and do any inside shots, before you take it out for the outdoor shots. Lens cleaning supplies should be in your bag at all times.

For kicks, try zooming your lens while the shutter is open. Works best on a strong tripod. You can also move your camera in circles, etc. to get different effects.
Also, try some deliberately out-of-focus shots for bokeh effects.

The light shows by the pond (which run every 15 minutes) have lights going on and off, so a long exposure is needed if you want to get all the lights in one shot.

Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
Landscape Photography Tips June 11, 2016 1:01 PM Bob from D.
Tips for the Orchid Shoot February 9, 2016 4:22 PM Bob from D.
Making a DIY Light Box February 9, 2015 10:42 AM Bob from D.
How To Frame Your own Prints January 25, 2015 11:23 AM Ken C.
How to get the most out of Lightroom March 30, 2015 1:00 PM Ken C.
Lighthouse Agenda as of 27 June June 27, 2014 11:17 AM Bob from D.
Using a tripod to get sharp pictures December 2, 2011 1:31 PM Bob from D.
Wild Lights (Zoo) Tips December 5, 2014 2:07 PM Bob from D.
Is it sharp enough to print? (For Oct 21 meeting) October 8, 2015 12:14 PM GLLong
SCAVENGER HUNT October 3, 2011 12:45 PM Bob from D.
Printing - Notes from June 12 July 19, 2011 12:50 PM Bob from D.
Definitions used by the group March 26, 2011 10:21 AM Bob from D.

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