We have teamed up with the Toronto Zoo and Canon to put together a series of tips to maximize your photo opportunities when you visit the zoo! Take the great photo you are hoping for by following these quick tips.

toronto zoo photographyNatural Portraits

Use light to create a powerful portrait

  1. Find a setting where your subject appears comfortable
  2. Use a zoom lens to frame your subject showing some background
  3. Wait for cloud cover to provide soft, even lighting
  4. Press the shutter while making eye contact with your subject

how to take great zoo photosHigh Contrast

Use silhouettes to create dramatic scenes

  1. Frame your subject to include a simple profile against the sky
  2. Set lens focus to infinity and use a small aperture like f/11
  3. Underexpose by setting your camera exposure compensation to -4
  4. Hold steady, wait for subject to hold still then shoot

best zoo photosFollow the Light

Highlight features by using contrast

  1. Find a dark area where only beams of light illuminate
  2. Use a wide angle lens to frame as much darkness as possible
  3. Wait for your subject to enter the frame and focus on lit areas
  4. To ensure accurate exposure try using your camera’s auto-bracketing

toronto zoo photo tipsGo Deep and Wide

Capture the action, even through glass

  1. Change your ISO setting to a higher sensitivity like 3600
  2. Put the camera lens close to the glass to reduce glare
  3. Set your camera’s zoom lens to its widest setting
  4. Set aperture to f/8 or smaller, wait for subject to pass, then shoot

zoo photography tipsSelective Focus

Create outstanding images using lens blur

  1. Use your zoom lens and focus on a subject at mid-distance
  2. Hold your camera lower to include foreground objects
  3. Set your lens aperture to its widest, for example f/2.8
  4. Hold steady to eliminate image blur and shoot

tips for great zoo photosMagic Moments

Wait and focus on creating interest

  1. Look for a subject that is active or pre-occupied with an activity
  2. Find a location where you have an unobstructed view of your subject
  3. Don’t zoom in too close, in case your subject moves out of the frame
  4. Wait for unique expressions or activity then take several images in succession 

toronto zoo photo tipsSwing Into Action

Capture motion with camera panning

  1. Use a fast fixed focal length lens, like a 50mm f/1.8
  2. Put the active subject in the centre of the frame and focus
  3. Set a slow shutter speed, like 1/30 of a second
  4. Pan your camera to follow subject movement while shooting


zoo photo tipsFocus on the Eyes

Isolate the eyes for stunning portraits

  1. Use your zoom lens to get in as close as possible
  2. Set your lens aperture to its widest, for example f/2.8
  3. Focus on both eyes, or if on an angle, the closest eye
  4. Hold steady to eliminate image blur and shoot

Additional Tips

Looking for more zoo photo tips? Registration is open for the Canon Photo Tour at the Toronto Zoo.
What hidden tricks and tips do you use when capturing animal photos? Let us know in the comments!

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