Focusing Through Fences at the Cape May Zoo
Here's a new Audioboo from a recent trip to Cape May. If you would prefer to read the text, I've also included it below the photos.
I often find that at least half of photography is purely problem solving. This was certainly the case during a recent trip to the Cape May Zoo in New Jersey. I had a rare opportunity to photograph a four month old Snow Leopard Cub. Excited to see this beautiful new addition, I hurried through all of the other enclosures. The light was perfect as the high clouds diffused the sun and created a massive natural softbox. Yet, upon arrival, disappointment quickly set in as I scanned the unsightly fence surrounding the habitat. The odds of creating a natural looking photo seemed rather slim. Still, I was up for the challenge and decided to try a few techniques I've learned over the years.
First, I set up my tripod so the lens was approximately six inches from the fence. By getting this close, the metal wiring was outside of my lenses minimum focusing distance, and became a blur. I also used a wide aperture of f5.6 to create a very shallow depth of field. Next, I autofocused through one of the openings and watched as the fence miraculously disappeared. With careful attention, I was able to achieve sharp focus on the Cubs eyes. Using a super telephoto lens of 400mm allowed me to arrange a tight composition, and eliminate any distracting man made elements behind the cub.
The resulting image is shown here.
Fences may be designed to keep you out, but they don't have to stop you from creating photographs.