Tips on shooting a reptile expo?


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Jun 15, 2010
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Atlantic Beach, Fl
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This weekend, I will be attending a reptile expo in Daytona. I have decided on taking my camera with my 18-55mm.

This place will be extremely crowded, so no tripod and flash is frowned upon.

There will be several species of animals there that I don't get to see everyday and I want to be able to take some decent photos.

The lighting will be ok, mostly large halogen bulbs.

Does anyone have any tips? This is supposedly the last year it will be in Daytona, so I don't want to miss any shots.
I assume there will be glass you'll be shooting through? If so, using a polarizing filter will help minimize reflections HOWEVER your shutter speed will be affected so if your lens is stabilized that will help a bit. You may still need to bump the ISO a little higher.

Depending on the size of the reptile (i.e lizard or croc?) you may need some more reach. Of course if the 18-55mm is what you've got for glass it'll do, but if you've got something with more length I'd consider using that instead.
The animals will all be within a few feet. Very few will be behind glass. The majority will be in plastic deli cups, a few will be walking around and a few will be on people.

The choice of the 18-55mm was because it has the closest focusing distance of my three, as well as the only one with VR. It also has a decent zoom in case I need to photo a small animal such as a poison dart frog.

I will carry my CPL, I didn't even think of it.

For people not familiar with this expo, it is a bunch of people selling reptiles and a few charities and organizations. I may be able to get 2 or 3 feet away from whatever I am trying to get a picture of. Any farther and people will jump in front.

Basically, think of the worst conditions you can think of... Luckily, it is inside, so the lighting will be fairly consistant.
If you can't take and use your flash (I've never found any evidence that flash harms reptiles and interestingly many appear to no even blink an eye at the use of flash when it is used) then I would slip the 50mm f1.8 into your pocket as well - just incase the lighting is far too poor for even your 15-55mm lens. Even with thin depth of field f2.8 can make all the difference over f5.6 in getting a shot.

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