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Tips on How to Take Pictures of Zoo Animals Through Glass

written by: Mayflor Markusic•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 9/23/2008

Taking pictures of zoo animals through glass usually produces images that suffer from glare and reflection. The good news is that there are effective strategies to produce good pictures even when the zoo animals are behind the glass.

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    Zoo animals behind the glass

    Many kids claim that their favorite animals at the zoo are the lizards. The lizards are usually housed in a building and placed behind glass cages. The inside of the cage is a little replica of the lizard’s natural environment and one side is made of glass to allow visitors to see the zoo animal.

    The glass is excellent for viewing the animals but it is also a nuisance when taking pictures. The pictures end up having unwanted glares and annoying reflections. It would be tempting to simply miss out on pictures of zoo animals behind the glass.

    Unfortunately, this would mean missing out on many zoo animals. Besides lizards, there are other animals that are placed in such a similar glass enclosure, including snakes, fishes, and penguins. Fortunately, there are strategies that will overcome the problem of the glass and will produce better pictures.

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    Strategy #1: Try a different angle

    When inside a building and trying to get pictures of zoo animals behind a glass cage, the worst thing that the photographer can do is stand directly in front of the glass. The photographer’s reflection will be all over the picture. There will be glares coming from the camera flash and from the indoor lights. But this is easy to handle. All the photographer needs to do is step to one side to remove the reflection and the glare seen through the lens. If the glares and reflections are still seen on the glass through the lens, the zoo photographer may move farther or get at a lower angle.

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    Strategy #2: Change the camera settings

    The usual source of the glare is the flash of the camera. Obviously, the best way to avoid this glare is to avoid using the camera’s flash. But if the flash is not utilized, the pictures can be dark. But there are ways to obtain clearer and brighter pictures of low-light areas even without the use of the camera’s flash. For example, some digital cameras have preset settings for low light areas. But for other cameras that don’t have such options, the photographer can change the camera’s sensitivity or ISO settings. A higher ISO setting allows the camera to take in more light.

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    Strategy #3: Fixing the camera flash

    If using the camera's flash cannot be avoided and there is no way to find a good angle, then the zoo photographer will need to use either a diffuser or a flash that sits on a tilting or rotating head. A diffuser reduces the glare. Along with a flash that is rotated so that its light does not strike the glass, the diffuser will help the zoo photographer take better pictures of zoo animals through the glass.