Thursday, May 22, 2008

Greenville Zoo

I spent an afternoon at the zoo with my son a couple of months ago. Of course, I took my camera with me. The Greenville Zoo is not very large, but it is a nice little zoo for a morning or afternoon family trip. It is part of Greenville’s Cleveland Park and is next to the playground area. In other words this is a lot for the kids to do if you need them to run off some energy. The full gallery is here, but there are a couple of shots that I really liked from that afternoon.

The leopard’s profile shot above is one of my favorite photographs. (click on the photos to see them larger.) The zoo has renovated some of the enclosures including the ones for the big cats. Now there are semi-enclosed observation areas with plate-glass. It affords a much better view than the old wire fences and ditch. When my son and I got to the leopard’s enclosure, this one leopard was lying down next to the glass in some shade. It was a popular place and all of the parents and children were crowding around trying to see the leopard or get photographs. We got our turn to get close, but the leopard was just lying down. It seemed to be taking a nap. I took a couple of shots, but they weren’t that great since it was just the top of it’s’ head and back. Just as I was standing up to leave, the leopard sat up and posed. I took a couple of shots before someone stood in front of me. The shot you see is the best of them. It was like the leopard was an Old Hollywood starlet that said that famous line, “I’m ready for my close-up now, Mr. Deville.” I felt really lucky to get this shot. The only flaw with it originally, was an ugly green flare just behind its ear. The plate-glass had a green tint to it, so I think that is where the flare came from. However, I used a color control point in Nikon’s Capture NX to get rid of that localized problem. The color control points make localized fixes like this so easy.

Until we got to the leopard’s enclosure, I thought this shot of a lioness was going to be my best keeper of the day. When we got home and I pulled the shot up in Capture NX though, the entire picture had a green hue to it due to the plate-window. I know it was the window. However, a color cast like that is very easy to correct in Capture NX. If I remember, I may have treated it like a color balance problem since it was affecting the entire image. The result is the photograph you see to the left.

I would be remiss if I didn’t include the following photographs. This giraffe was eating wheat crackers that visitors could feed to them. As it ate the crackers, it made all kinds of comical faces.

Zoos are great places to spend time with your family and practice some photography. You might even learn some things about some of the animals there, not to mention having a good time.

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