21-Apr-2013: Gorge Wildlife Park – Photographing Wet Animals

I had received a lot of in coming mail from people excited to be going on the club excursion to the Gorge Wildlife Park. It looked to be a big event – perhaps bigger than the outing to old Port Willunga. Saturday was quite sunny and a delightful day. On the Sunday morning however I awoke to torrential rain. It had set in a big way and was not letting up. The weather radar showed wave after wave of rain as a depression had settled in over the Adelaide region. Reluctantly I conceded that it was all over. I sent out an e-mail advising all to give the excursion a miss.

Later that afternoon I drove over to the gorge in case any had missed the e-mail and foolishly set off. To my amazement there was a contingent of 4 or 5 eagerly paying their entrance fee, cameras at the ready. “Hadn’t you got my e-mail?” “Oh yes, we got the e-mail, but we thought it might blow over and so we turned up anyway”. This was going to be a weird kind of day. I went in with Ron and Howard, meeting Kim and Ken and his contingent inside.

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How do you photograph animals in the rain?
I suggested we retire to the shelter of the covered aviary, a large tin shed where we sheltered from the worst of the rain for over an hour or more. It was hard taking shots in the gloom. The birds however were interesting. Eventually it cleared a little and we were able to venture out and get a few photos. Despite the difficulty everyone seemed to enjoy the challenge of the difficult conditions.

One of the skills was in making the bars of the cage disappear. This is not too hard with a telephoto lens when you stand close to the cage and the animal is in the centre of the enclosure. However if the animal is large, standing close to the wire and the wire is lit up by sunlight, you might as well forget it. Sometimes it can make you swear. It seemed that a lot of learning was taking place as we mimicked each others style and tried different shots.

Eventually the rain let up, just as it was time to head home. It was hard to believe that they were telling me what a successful outing it had been. Needless to say I did enjoy interacting with the animals.

James Allan

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One response

  1. howard

    The star of the show was the Gorge Wild Life Park which I thought was really good and much preferred to the Adelaide Zoo. James had his tripod and got great definition in the gloom whereas I tried to persist with dialling up the ISO and handholding. Getting great photos in such conditions is a challenge especially something that is more than a mere nice bird photo. Clarity and definition are critical. I was disappointed with my results but it has inspired me to be more diligent to get spot on definition and wait for those moments that animal shots require. Thanks James a good excursion despite the challenging conditions.

    19/05/2013 at 2:52 pm