A Birdwatching Chimpanzee

April 13, 2015

I paid a visit to Lincoln Park Zoo a couple of weeks ago. The weather was the best its been in months and it felt really good to get out and enjoy. This Chimpanzee on the other hand, decided he would just sit in the sun and watch the birds.

Making pictures in a zoo is tough. Unless you are documenting zoo conditions or making fun family pictures it’s tough to get past all the obstacles. The bars and glass are there to protect the animals from the people I’m assuming and while I don’t mind the glass as much, those bars are a pain. For the most part I won’t even try to make a picture. It’s a lot more fun and less stressful to just watch for a bit and move on. Shooting through glass is a little easier depending on the lighting. If you can get your lens right up against the glass you should be ok for the most part. Just make sure to check for reflections!

It’s more fun sometimes to watch the people. The Ape House was a perfect example. The place was packed and most of the animals were napping. Every once in a while a Baboon would move a little and the crowd would start getting excited. He/She would just look over with a disinterested expression and go back to sleep. Rinse/Repeat. I walked over to a corner where the Chimpanzee’s stayed and watched for a while. They were in the shadows just hanging out but they were awake at least. I found a nice spot with a ledge to sit on and made a few test frames to make sure my exposure was good, and waited. It wasn’t crowded there and it felt good to sit for a while.

The Chimpanzee area is one of the nicer spots for an animal to live. The whole south side is glass and there is a big door to get outside and hang out if they so choose. And choose they did. After about 10 minutes of watching, they started milling around. One by one, they started heading outside. Soon they were all out except this one. About half way to the door, he/she just stopped and sat down seeming more interested in the bamboo shoot than the beautiful weather outside. Or maybe just birdwatching!

I had been shooting the others walking out. Their door was near me so they were all walking toward me but this was the keeper for me. There was just something about this one. The expression. The light. I don’t know. I cropped this frame to lose some clutter and then it hit me. This is one of the few pictures I have made at a zoo the didn’t look like the usual zoo picture. Sure, you can tell it’s a zoo but there’s just something about this one. And that expression. And light. I’m thinking this one might look good on the wall.

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