Photographing My Latest Loves: The Jaguar Family

jaguar-family-webDuring the Spring Break rush at San Antonio Zoo, I had the privilege to take two docent shifts at the home of the zoo’s jaguar family. I so enjoyed spending 12 hours with mom Arizona and cubs Milan and Liam while offering a bit of information about jaguars to hundreds of guests who stopped by to watch them for awhile. (Thousands of people visit the zoo on Spring Break. By my own estimate, I talked to about 1500 of them on Monday and Saturday.)

Although I wasn’t there on a photo trip, I took a couple of interesting shots with my iPhone before a lot of people had arrived in the morning.

When taking pictures through plexiglass, a little bit of planning can minimize glare. The picture of the cub at the top of this post minimizes but doesn’t eliminate glare. The shot of mom and the kids didn’t try to get rid of the reflections in the plexiglass, but instead made the most of the reflection of trees to make it seem that the jaguar family is walking in a forest.

My advice to digital photo enthusiasts at the zoo is to take a moment to look at reflections. Take a photo from your position when the animals aren’t doing THE CUTEST BEHAVIOR and look at what your camera, or phone, recorded. Move around until you like what you see and then chill in your spot to wait for the animals. Pick your spot after watching the animals move around a little. When you see they have have a favorite spot to play or rest, or whatever they are doing, plan to photograph that spot and hang out.

In my 12 hours with the jaguar family, I learned so much about what they do where in their space. I’ll go back to the zoo when I’m not taking a volunteer shift to see what I can do with my camera. I can’t put off my trip because Milan and Liam are already 6 months old and growing fast. The cubs were born Sept. 6 and got their names in December.

If you’re wondering about the cubs’ dad B’alam, jaguar males don’t participate in raising families in the wild, so they alternate their times out in the exhibit. B’alam will be out when Arizona and the cubs are not.

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