Saturday, May 12, 2012

It really was all happenin' at the zoo

Wow. I'm finding myself saying that word a lot lately, but for the purpose of this post, it refers to yet another "big bang" for my buck in connection with a photo shoot Thursday at the Indianapolis Zoo, where someone told me it's all happenin' (apologies to Paul Simon).

Just like my very short visit last weekend to Garfield Park in Indy (which lasted all of maybe 15 minutes?) for a Vintage Base Ball game, my trip to the zoo was pretty brief -- about two hours. And yet, the images I was able to get were beyond what I had expected, even though the elephant section was closed off for the day.

The common denominator in both shoots was the Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II PZD VC lens, a light but incredibly versatile lens. This might be a walk-around lens for newbies, but for me, it's an important, practical niche lens. I turn to the 18-270 in situations in which I'm going to be outdoors and on my feet a long while and want something covering a wide range of focal lengths so I don't have to lug around a lot of equipment. I've had this lens almost a year now, and thanks to the piezoelectric drive (PZD) and vibration compensation (VC) technology, I've been able to successfully treat at least 80% of my bracketed hand-held (note emphasis) shots in high-dynamic range (HDR) software, which is incredible considering that HDR work is almost impossible unless a photographer brackets his/her images with the camera mounted on a tripod to negate possible camera shake.

It delivered for me at the zoo on Thursday, when I decided to put it to the test yet again. I used it for both single and bracketed shots for HDR treatment. The results are in this post. The only place it exposed its limitations was indoors, the buildings where penguins, polar bears, snakes and lizards are housed. The lemurs probably were the stars of the day. I arrived just as they all wanted to have fun and wrestle with each other. I probably could have made a post devoted to just the lemur shots.

All of these photos were taken using the 18-270 PZD. In the near future, I plan a return visit and will take along my Canon EF 70-270mm f/2.8L IS lens with 1.4 extender so I can compare results. With the 1.4 extender, the very highly touted Canon lens will be at just about the same length on the long end as the Tamron.

I'll devote this post strictly to the zoo and animals; the next post will be devoted to shots taken outside the zoo on the bridge in White River State Park.

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