Taronga Zoo

Taronga Zoo

8 week online workshop
lesson 2
Depth of Field

We headed to the zoo today so I thought it was a great opportunity to take the camera along and work on depth of field on some willing subjects….the animals! All shots taken using Aperture Priority.
1. The meerkats are my youngest daughter’s favourite animals and they are so very cute. ISO 200, f/6.3, 1/80, 194mm.
2. The lemurs are new to Taronga Zoo and they are gorgeous too…..I love their stripey tails. The first lemur shot was taken at ISO100, f/6.3, 1/30, 149mm.
3. In the next lemur picture I was trying to blur the foreground and have the background in focus, but for some reason I find this incredibly difficult. Is there a trick to it? I tried using the flexible focus mode and focused on the lemur in the background but the plants and the tree to the left of the picture seem to be more in focus than the lemur itself. In this shot the shrubs in the front are a bit blurry but out of all the shots I tried to achieve this on this is the only one that was mildly successful. ISO100, f/6.3, 1/30, 203mm. Help please!!!!!
4. I love this shot of the koala but was so disappointed that I hadn’t reset the settings on my camera and for some reason the ISO was set to 6400, f6.3, 1/800, 161mm, 0.3EV.
Overall I was quite happy with the shots I took of the animals, but it was a very overcast day today in Sydney and I found lighting to be an issue. Because the light was poor and the animals were moving around, it was quite difficult to get crisp, in-focus pictures.

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I'm a Sydney mum to 2 gorgeous girls and am pregnant with my 3rd daughter, who will join us at the end of March. I'm keen to learn more about capturing the best shots of my children and am excited to be learning how to use my camera.


  1. I love Taronga! What a great place to do this lesson. Love meerkats too!
    It was a dull day is Sydney today but that’s not a bad problem to have. Better than a really bright day (more soon). You could probably go up to ISO 400 (perhaps even 800 depending on your camera) without too much loss of quality to get your shutter speed up. There is a topic very soon covering ISO in more detail.
    Re focussing on mid ground and blurring the foreground: You should be able to switch the camera’s focus area to single point, dynamic area or closest subject (or similar names depending on your camera). What you want is single point. It sounds like you may have your camera set to one of the other focus areas. This has been a fairly frequent problem so I will add this detail to the focus topic. Give that a try and see if it helps.
    Photo #4: don’t you hate it when you forget to check/change the settings πŸ™‚ ?

  2. We love Taronga, too! With it being such a cooler day the animals were wide awake and we got to see a lot more than we usually do.
    I’ve just had a look at the Sony Nex 5R autofocus areas and there are 3:
    1. Centre – focuses on a subject in the centre area of the screen automatically
    2. Multi – focuses on a subject covering the whole range of the screen automatically
    3. Flexible Spot – focuses on a subject in the selected position automatically
    Is this what you’re referring to? πŸ™‚

  3. These are gorgeous, Sally! I really love the composition of the Meerkat picture – he looks like he’s acting as the lookout for the other two, probably up to no good!! They are very bright pictures for ISO 100 on a dull day.
    I’m heading to Sydney this weekend (on my OWN!!) and planning to spend Sunday at Taronga. These have got me really excited about that!

  4. Siobhan, you’ll have a great time at the zoo…especially on your own! The meerkats were keeping warm under the heat lamp, so perhaps the red glow helped to lighten up the shot. Can’t wait to see some of your shots from the zoo. Have fun. πŸ™‚

  5. Sally, sounds like they are the right settings to change your focus area. The Sony may work a little differently to the Canons and Nikons but I’d try out all of these settings and see what they do. It sounds like you might need #3 but I’m not 100% sure of that. Let me know how you go when you try them out.

  6. Will do, thanks Robyn. I’ve taken some shots where the foreground is blurred and the background is in focus…but to be honest they were unintentional and when I try to do it intentionally it doesn’t work. Typical! πŸ™‚

  7. Maybe my advice is poor because I’ve only just got my camera back from servicing and haven’t done the focusing lessons yet. I find if I want to focus somewhere and I feel like the camera isn’t getting it just right for me I switch it to full manual and focus the lens myself.

    • Michelle, that is actually good advice and we’ll all be switching to manual focus in a later lesson. Glad you have your camera back.

  8. Feels great to have it back! Glad it is good advice because I’ve just purchased a vintage 100mm 2.8 lens that is manual focus only. Given the price ($85 plus postage) compared to new lenses I was looking at figured it was worth taking the risk and buying it.

  9. I always forget about changing my ISO too. I think I”m going to put a big sticky note on my camera that says ISO? The koala still looks great though, I love them.

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