Readers Photo Challenge assignment: Animal kingdom

This past Tuesday was World Animal Day which is the inspiration for the next Readers Photo Challenge assignment: Animals.

As a kid, I liked watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. I remember watching Jim Folwer wrestling with a large wild animal, an alligator, water buffalo or other such beast, while the more elderly host of the show Marlin Perkins would be off-camera describing what his assistant was doing. Whether you grew up with Wild Kingdom or Animal Planet’s Meerkat Manor animals are fascinating and can make great photo subjects.

For most animal photography, whether wild or domesticated, the key is to be patient. You can’t tell an animal to sit over there and then look towards the camera. Also, animals aren’t the most predictable of subjects. You don’t always know when they may get up and move to (or from) a picturesque spot or start (or end) an interesting activity. You have to be ready to shoot quickly when a moment happens.

For wild animals and ones at the zoo, a long lens is a necessity. It will bring them in closer to you without disturbing them or putting you in danger. With wild/zoo animals you want them to exhibit natural behaviors rather than to do “tricks” for the camera.

Some enclosures in zoos can sometimes present problems in shooting. Bars and chain link fencing can be too close together and get in the way and clutter the scene. Try getting in as close as you can to the bars or fencing and have the animal be as far away from the fence as possible. The fence/cage will be so out of focus that it will appear nearly invisible through the camera, especially with a telephoto lens and wide aperture.

Pets on the other hand can sometimes be hams for the camera. You want to capture their personality in a picture. If your pet is fun, energetic, goofy or aloof, then that is what you want to emphasize in your photos of them. Although a pet can understand what you want of them more than an untamed animal, communication with them isn’t always 100% so, as with animals in the wild, patience is always a wise practice.

So whether you prefer animals with fur or feathers, ones that climb trees or slither on the ground this assignment is your chance to answer the photographic call of the wild.

How to enter:

1. Entries can be emailed to Type in “Animals” in the subject line.

2. Photos have to be shot between Oct. 6 and Oct. 20. The must be of an animal (wild or domesticated) but a person can be with them if you want.

3. (New) Entries will be limited to no more than 12 photos from each photographer.

4. Include your name (first and last), hometown, and the kind of camera/lens you used and where it was taken (e.g.: “John Doe of Stockton. Location: Oak Park, Stockton. Canon Rebel T3 w/ 55-300mm lens”).

5. If there is a recognizable person in the photo, please identify them (name, age, hometown) and what they are doing in the photos (e.g.: Jimmy Doe, 8, of Stockton cools off in the water at the Oak Park Pool in Stockton).

6. Please feel free to include any interesting anecdotes or stories on how you took the picture.

7. The deadline for submission is Thursday, October 20. A gallery of all the photos submitted will be run on Oct. 27 at

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