Animals in Captivity

Discussion in 'Nature & Wildlife' started by Chuck, Nov 17, 2009.

  1. Chuck

    Chuck TPF Noob!

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    If one captures a great pic of an animal, does it matter at all if the animal is in captivity or not?? (Assuming of course that the pic is composed such that the "in captivity" part is not visible.)

    Soooo, if one goes to the zoo and gets great animal pics, from a photographic/artistic standpoint is that any different than capturing same in the wild?
     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Well, many, in fact most publications that focus on wildlife, or nature, or the outdoors, will reject shots made of captive wildlife. Some exceptions are made for animals photographed in animal rehabilitation facilities, but those photos are always clearly captioned.

    Opinions range widely; many people simply can NOT get out to the wilderness or even the suburban fringe areas to capture wildlife in its native habitat, and so many people like going to zoos to photograph animals. I think it's really classless though to show photographs of wildlife photographed in aviaries and cages, without clearly stating that the photos were of captive wildlife.

    In the past, there was a fellow who earned a "name" for himself by repeatedly going to aviaries and wildlife sanctuaries and photographing birds of prey on the same few, worn-to-the-core tree limbs and the same faked "habitats"; hawks, osprey, owls, all photographed at 10-15 feet with a 300 to 400mm lens,and then posted on "that other forum" for all to Ooh! and Ahh! over....and then six months later, the same fellow was teaching expensive 'workshops' on wildlife photography in California. Kind of deceptive, and downright unethical IMO.

    For the guy or gal who goes to the zoo and snaps some pics of lions,tigers, cougars,and birds of prey--hey...who cares if it's fun for them and if they let people know that the shots are not indicative of "wild" conditions.
     
  3. itznfb

    itznfb TPF Noob!

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    I like shooting at the zoo because
    1) I don't have time to shoot real wildlife at the moment.
    2) The lighting conditions and "captivity" makes shots very difficult so it's good practice.
    3) I like animals.

    From a technical standpoint I don't see how it's any different in the wild... I mean you might get killed by what you're shooting?? I don't know I've never had the opportunity to shoot something in the wild that was capable of killing me.

    But it depends on the audience. I know few people who would look down upon you for shooting zoo "wildlife". As Darrel said I'm sure some publications would.
     
  4. Chuck

    Chuck TPF Noob!

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    This is sort of what I was thinking.

    Plus, if you consider human portraiture - - the goal is generally to control as much as the environment as possible to get a great pic of the subject. Photographers spend massive time and money to control lighting, posing, etc. to get the right look of the person.

    So, what if someone takes advantage of the zoo environment to help control some of the variables in taking a "portrait" of an animal (in this case access being a leading variable).

    A great portrait of a lion is a great portrait of a lion, regardless of where it's shot, no??
     
  5. itznfb

    itznfb TPF Noob!

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    It's all in how you feel about it really. As I said from a technical standpoint taking the photograph is really no different. Taking a shot of a lion in the wild obviously has a lot more involved. You may spend days trying to get a shot where you've spent minutes getting one at the zoo. Also there's a better feeling to the shot when captured in an animals natural habitat.

    I've never had the opportunity to travel to areas native to lions and tigers but if I did, and came back with some decent shots I'm willing to bet I'd be more proud of those shots than anything I ever took in a zoo.

    That being said. I don't think that really takes anything away from a great shot taken at the zoo. A great shot is a great shot.
     
  6. Rifleman1776

    Rifleman1776 TPF Noob!

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    Normally, I respect posts by Derrel. But, on this I disagree.
    Many so-called wildlife shots and films are actually of captive and trained animals. Keeping, training and hiring out 'wild' animals is a fairly lucrative business.
    To answer your initial question. It doesn't make any difference. The photo is what counts. Explanations and captions should not have to accompany a picture. For the most part (there are exceptions) a great picture will stand on it's own.
    I would add, while it might be OK to let folks admire one of your pictures taken at a zoo, to represent yourself as an accomplished wildlife photographer would be dishonest.
     
  7. DennyCrane

    DennyCrane No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    There is a distinct set of skills required to get the shot of animals in the wild... but only a small portion of them really have to do with photography. So if you isolate just photographic skills required, the debate changes.

    I agree that the end photo is what should be judged. A beautiful picture of a lion is a beautiful picture of a lion. But still, IMHO, the "real" wildlife photographer will have better pictures because he's not bound by having all kinds of man-made objects surrounding the animal. You're really not going to be able to fake a bunch of wild animals drinking from a river in Africa no matter how good you are in post.
     
  8. itznfb

    itznfb TPF Noob!

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    I actually think this statement sums it up pretty well.
     
  9. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Contest Guidelines
    "Important: All images must be taken in the wild of natural settings and behaviors. 
No captive animals will be considered and no entrapment of any kind is permissible."

    Outdoor Photographer has a forum, where this issue is discussed in six threads, here: Outdoor Photographer Forums • Search

    The "hand of man" guidelines in nature/outdoor photography is discussed here
    Scope of Nature Photography forum - Photo.net Nature Forum

    "Getting Better Zoo Photos" "Getting Better Zoo Photos" by Jay Ryser [3036223-1] - RedBubble
     
  10. DennyCrane

    DennyCrane No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Some good insights there. I think at the end of the day, as stated, as long as they're not being passed off as animals in the wild, there's no sin in shooting pictures at the zoo.
     
  11. Rifleman1776

    Rifleman1776 TPF Noob!

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    Good clarification for those purposes.
    However, I once saw a show on one of the educational TV channels that demonstrated just how many 'wildlife' films are made using captive and trained animals. The primary animals for this show were a grizzly bear and a mountain lion. Both were well trained and very tame. The shots were carefully staged to eliminate modern items in the background. The photog in question was highly acclaimed and had won many awards for his work. IMHO, that was dishonest. But not knowing this, the films he shot were really terrific.
     
  12. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I think I saw the same show.
    There is actually an organization out there that tries to 'police' or at least blow the whistle on those who make video (TV & Movies) with wildlife...basically trying to ensure that if they do use captive or trained animals, they don't try to pass it off as wild animals.

    Disney was actually one of the worst offenders of this. Everybody remembers their film (or portion of a film) about the lemmings who were committing mass suicide by crowding off of a cliff. That has actually become a widely held belief. It's a myth. They really only had a handful of lemmings when shooting that and they rigged up a turn table with an arm that was shoving the little critters off of the cliff.
    Another one (maybe the same film) was a sequence of a polar bear cub (or cubs) rolling & sliding down a snowy hill. Well that 'hill' was actually a manufactured set.

    Even the well respected Sir David Attenborough, who claimed that he never represented captive animals as wild...was 'outed' for a scene where they showed a snowy arctic scene of a polar bear den...they then cut to a close up view of a polar bear mother & small cub. How did they get that shot? In a zoo, of course. But the way it was edited, there was no indication that the 'inside' shots were captive animals and then they go right back to the 'wild' footage.

    My take, for video or still photography, is that it's OK to get shots of captive or trained animals (if they were not abused for the sake of the shot) as long as you're not intentionally trying to pass it off as wild. I don't think that you have to explicitly state that they are captive but just don't lie to people about it.
     

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