One of the perks of being an annual pass holder is that you get invited to participate in special programs like 'Wildlife Photography in Zoos'. The Central Florida Zoo is funded by contributions, grants, and over 42% by pass holders. So if you're a local, get an annual pass - it's an investment in your community. This program, taught by Alan M. Hoffberg, is an opportunity for experienced and novice photographers to develop their wildlife photography skills and get a "before the zoo opens" look behind the scenes. Hoffberg volunteers as a docent and has traveled to many different continents on a mission to record photographic data used to support wildlife and habitat protection.
I observed zoo staff and docents - one greeting a tortoise with a salad and a "hey buddy!", others busy cleaning cages in the 90+ degree morning temperatures, and even one named Al who took the time to explain to a mother and her small children that an indigo snake is not 'poisonous' or venomous. "This species actually kills and eats venomous snakes", he explained, "for it to be poisonous, you would have to ingest a part of the animal. there are poisonous frogs, so you wouldn't want to lick them."
There's really an art to capturing an unencumbered image of an animal in an enclosure. I learned some great tips today and met some interesting photographers and we also shared tips with one another.
What did I learn? No matter how long you've been doing something, no matter how much you've improved, you can always learn something new. Besides, isn't the joy of having wisdom or a particular skill is being able to share that wisdom with someone else?