The tropics

Well, not the real ones, of course, but those at Hagenbeck’s zoo, anyway.Here’s a nice selection of shots inside the catacombs of the aquarium and the tropical area. The difficulty here is really to get sharp shots – any sharp shots, as it’s quite dark in the building. Another complication has to do with the thick sheets of special glass that protect the water tanks. They introduce layers of refraction, smudge and take away yet more light. So if you go inside the tropical aquarium be shure to boost your iso number quite high and be prepared to labour for each image, both in making it and in post-production. I wonder how much better the situation would be if I had a full-frame camera….

The animals of Hagenbeck

I’ve spent many weekends in the past year at »Tierpark Hagenbeck«, the privately funded zoo in Hamburg that looks back on six generations of family-ownership. The enormous costs of €41.000 a day(!) are exclusively covered by ticket-sales, donations or testaments (see their website for more information). The park is famous for its various panoramas, the skilfully laid out paths and of course its history and tradition. If you have the time, you should certainly pay it a visit.

As far as photography is concerned, the animal compounds have a high degree of naturalism to them, which is of course good for the animals, but it also allows for some stunning photographs that seem to show the animals in their natural habitats. In the following you see some of my best shots from the last 15 months, all with kind permission of Tierpark Hagenbeck. All shots here were taken in the park.

Mit freundlicher Genehmigung vom Tierpark Hagenbeck.


Yesterday I went to the „Weltvogelpark Walserode“, which is called the world’s largest bird-zoo, hosting thousands of individuals in six-hundred species. I attended the flight-show and some aviaries to try and get some good pictures. Alas, this time around I lucked out. When photographing birds in fight it’s all about shutter speed. a 1/2000s is preferred, so I dialled that in for a minimum aperture and an iso around 1250. That way I can control changes in light by simply dialling the shutter speed a bit up or down and a M4/3rd camera gives an immediate live-view of whether or not the exposure is good. There is no manual focusing with birds in flight, so I set my EM1 up in continuous autofocus tracking mode with high-speed sequential shutter. In doing so, the camera goes into phase-autofocus, theoretically focusing continuously on the subject I set my original focus on, so I could just follow it with my Oly 75-300ii, getting sharp pictures.

Theoretically. In reality I shot 1.800 images that way. Almost all of them utter, blurry crap. Utter, blurry crap. It’s a well-documented problem that micro-four-third cameras are not well-suited to bird or action photography but I could not believe how dire the situation actually was. That was a discouraging day-out. I’ll show some images that aren’t complete disasters here. The perching birds were shot through wires, so there are some additional problems there. Oh my.

Laboe – snaps

I will update this post with some snapshots over the next couple of days. They will have no particular topic other than that they are taken at or around Laboe. Enjoy.

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