Zoo Atlanta tiger shots.


No longer a newbie, moving up!
Dec 20, 2009
Reaction score
Atlanta, GA
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
C+C always welcome and appreciated.




Meh... I dont like how the tiger is in the shade in the first two. They are also a bit too wide. The beauty of these creatures (for me) is in the shapes in their fur, the colour, the texture. Try getting in closer (with a lens, not with your feet :) )

The last two are showing some sort of odd reflection, is that the glass you were shooting through?

Overall, they come off as more snapshots than photographs.
Is this a little better? I didn't see the "ghost" in the original edit. It is because I was shooting through glass. I cropped it down to remove that and played with the sharpness. Let me know what you think. I think they are a little dark but it gives them a jungle feel.

I dunno. I do prefer the closer in ones, but the fact that they are heavily cropped, you use some sharpness / detail. Makes the image soft overall.

I dont get the dark image = jungle feel. Jungle is not dark and shadows. The light is flat, lack of contrast. Did you do any other adjustments?
I'm going to try and split this into two aspects - technical and compositional/content based. First up though I recommend you read the following thread for some guidance on posting with an aim to getting C&C: http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/...e-your-posts-get-critiques-your-work-c-c.html

Also it helps if you keep your posts the same and just add new posts to the thread if you want to add additional shots or crops - rather than change the first post (it leads to some confusion ;)) - for clarification my point are aimed at the first series of shots you displayed

Luckily these shots have EXIF attached so I can read the settings:

Shot 1: 1/250sec, f10, ISO 200 - exposure bias -2, 70-300mm lens at 125mm; taken in aperture priority mode

So first off ISO - conventional wisdom tells us to shoot at the lost possible, 1SO 100, however in my own shooting I have found that ISO 200 is very workable and the added shutter speed gained with using a slightly higher ISO is invaluable when shooting moving subjects; so I've no problem with this setting.

Aperture - here is where we have a difference of opinion - you've shot in aperture priority mode (which is what I would most likely have used in such lighting), but interestingly you've selected f10 as your aperture which has given a very deep depth to the shot. Whilst it is true that animals have longer faces and overall proportions over people I would have thought using f8 to f5.6 would be enough to cover at least the head if not most of the cats body at this range. Using the wider apertures (smaller f numbers) can help to blurr the background more than you have in this shot which adds a degree of separation between subject and background.
Of course this is a compositional choice and you might wish to show more of the cats environment rather than cut it out with blur from the lens. A bonus to this is that it will give you more shutter speed, and when shooting a moving subject any amount of shutter speed will help you.

Also choosing underexposure by 2 stops exposure compensation (based on the bright areas in the background) was I think the right choice as its helped prevent those areas and the whites of the cat from overexposing, even with a very dark foreground area.

So in summary I don't find anything technically wrong with this shot as you took it - more brightness to the cat would have been nice, but you would have needed a flash or reflector (with a subject like this flash is your real only viable option - reflectors need you a bit closer ;)) to achieve this whilst preserving the brighter background areas from overexposing - as an added complication with this shot the prominence of the brighter foreground areas (the green plant) adding flash from you camera would have added light not only to the cat but those leaves and so might have nudged them toward overexposure.

So more into the shot and its composition - here we get to a more tricky area of the shot. If we start with brightness the human eye leans closer toward bright areas of a shot which means in your shot the eye is flicking to those bright ares in the background and also the bright foreground areas as well as the one brighter spec of light on the cats eye. The problem here is that foreground areas also distract our imediate attention. So our eye tends to end up starting with the foreground plant and on into the background before we are really taking notice of the cat.

And its here we encounter the main problem because the cat isn't "posing" or "in a moment". It's looks isn't at of the hunter or anger - infact to my eye he has quite a panting, tired look; his gaze (eyes) has some gravity, but its flicking to the right, straight into the artificial boarder of the leaves, so even when we follow the cats gaze we find ourselves back on that foreground;bright ground circle away from the cat.

A lower angle might have helped add some gravity to the shot, making the feline appear larger to the viewer, rather than giving the looking down on your apsect that this shot has - which makes the cat feel the smaller and less interesting.

So after all that I feel that you have a technically sound shot here, but a shot that lacks the gravity or attraction to the tiger. So the viewer gets an empty feeling when looking at the shot.

Shot 2:
Technically similar to the first shot, though in this case the cat has moved into a little more light and now the cat has far more attention on himself because of the light added to his face.

Compositionaly he also has a more interesting gaze to him this time as his look is heading into the right of the shot, a corner that hasn't got the foreground bordering and so we can follow the cats gaze.
The problems are however that the cat still have that lazy appearance to his stance; he's looking around but still (outside of his eyes) we lack that gravity to the situation. The shot is also quite centrally focused - I assume as you focus on the mid AF point on the cats face/eyes - cropping after can help. Achieve a slightly less central shot (cropping from the left side in this case).
Also the lower angle would have again helped this shot - giving us an angle of view we don't get as a passer by and instead adding interest as we get a lower view looking at or up to the cat.

Shot 3
Technically very same as the first shot; though this time you've some white lines appearing in the shot. This is a problem with shooting in zoos and often the only way to get around it is to both shoot with a telephoto lens and to also get right up to the bars - a hard thing with big cats as most have an outer barrier preventing you putting the lens right up to the bars.
I've found that if you selectively increase the contrast in the affected areas you can often lose the hazy white blur and get back a more realistic colour. You have to play around with the contrast quite a bit but it can be worth the effort.

Compositionally we've almost matched the two weaker points from the first shot - the cat has a good gaze direction, empty space to look into, bordering around the rest of the frame from the foreground, and the cat's pose has more power to it. You can see a little more of that predatory edge to the cat in this shot. What detracts though (I feel) is that again we've got that "looking down at you" glance that makes him feel smaller; less of a threat, less power.

Shot 4
very similar to shot 3, but we've not got the foreground obscuring the cats face partially which is just a bit strong when we mix in the rest of the components pionted out in shot 3.

Another problem through these shots is the cats face, his tongue hanging out a little lazily showing us more of the cats more docile current state (or bored state).

I do understand the difficulty with this sort of shooting and nailing those "moments" is a tricky thing whether in the field or in the zoo - most so in a zoo sometimes in getting those looks which hold more power to them. I also understand that sometimes lowangle shooting and other positions can be difficult but we have to work with what we get.
Technically you've done well with these shots, maybe a bit less depth of field and a bit more shutter speed; its composition and waiting for hours to get that one moment that you need

Edit - eep sorry this post got a lot lot longer than I thought it was! Hope you can make it all the way through
Last edited:
Meh... I dont like how the tiger is in the shade in the first two. They are also a bit too wide. The beauty of these creatures (for me) is in the shapes in their fur, the colour, the texture. Try getting in closer (with a lens, not with your feet :) )

The last two are showing some sort of odd reflection, is that the glass you were shooting through?

Overall, they come off as more snapshots than photographs.

I agree........nice shots thou!

Most reactions

New Topics