When you visit a zoo or a wildlife park it is often difficult to take pictures of the animals. If you’re not careful all you get is a picture of the cage with the animal somewhere hidden in the background. But with a little planning it is possible to get rid of the fencing at least enough so you can see the animal and perhaps crop a decent picture from your shot. The picture above was taken through a fence at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust centre at Martin Mere in West Lancashire. The blurred green lines are the fence and are actually in front of the bird. Had the bird been further back from the fence it would have disappeared almost completely, as in the picture below where all you can see is a slight lack of definition in the lower quarter of the image–that’s the fence.
This works best if you use a DSLR camera, but many compact cameras give you some control over how the picture is taken and you can get good results. There are three key things you need to think about.
First, if your camera doesn’t have manual focus, make sure the autofocus is fixed on the animal itself and not the bars of the cage. You’ll have to keep trying to get a fix on your subject, especially if the holes in the wire are small. Get in as close to the fence as you can. Switch off the flash so it doesn’t reflect off the bars.
Second, make the depth of field as shallow as possible so that everything in front of the animal and everything behind is out of focus. You can do this by opening the aperture as wide as possible. If your camera gives you some manual control turn the dial to ‘A’ or ‘Av’ (Aperture Priority) and make the f-number as small as you can.
Third, use the longest zoom you can lay your hands on; these were taken with a 300mm equivalent zoom lens with the aperture at f5.6. As I said above, this will work best on a DSLR, but I’ve had success in the past even with a Canon compact camera.