Since I made the decision to sell my full frame DSLR back in March I've been getting to know my mirrorless camera better each time I use it, learning what it does really well. Photographing the birds in our garden showed me the long lens I've been using (the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 PRO for those interested in such things) is incredibly sharp and great in good light. However, I hadn't tried it out in more challenging conditions so I put that right today with a trip to Colchester Zoo. I'm delighted to say the lens performed really well and its fast maximum aperture meant I had much greater success than usual in dark places, such as the chimpanzee house.
The chimps at Colchester Zoo have recently been given the freedom of their brand new outside enclosure so I was expecting to find them swinging about outdoors. Of course, just to be contrary, they were all inside, lazing around or sleeping! I managed to dodge the swarms of school children and found a couple of spots where I could sit cross legged on the floor and observe them with my camera, capturing cheeky portraits. Oddly, one of them, a thirteen year old chocolate chimp called Tumba, took a dislike to me and my camera and kept throwing an old towel he was playing with directly at me - to the great amusement of the crowd of children who were standing nearby! After a few minutes I took the hint and departed, although not before I'd caught a pensive portrait and a close up of his feet.
I didn't try to cover the whole zoo today, but instead I spent longer periods with a few species. The meerkats were enormous fun to watch, as they bickered over scraps of food. Later in the day, as I passed by their enclosure again, they were in a more reflective mood and several of them were resting in the warm sunshine.
My final port of call for the day was the Rainbow Lorikeets who were as colourful and garrulous as ever. I chose not to feed them myself (you can buy little pots of nectar which they'll happily drink from your hand) but watched others doing so. One young man was bravely feeding a bird (his father told me he's generally afraid of parrots) and I couldn't help but chuckle as one chap struggled to persuade two birds to let go of his hair! I thought I'd got lots of great photos of them but realised latterly that my shutter speed wasn't quite quick enough. However, I caught one characterful portrait and I can see I'll be returning to them on my next visit for another try!
12 July 2017