Photo Series-Panda Bears
Have you ever seen a more photogenic subject, one that has been featured in as many magazine article, calendars and greeting cards, not to mention the multitude of games and stuffed animals made in their image as the panda bear?
Photographing these creatures is something that many photographers long for. But doing so may not be as easy as it appears. These creatures live in remote areas of China and in rather cold climates, therefore there are many world renown zoos and nature preserves that do not have the facilities to accommodate them and they are unfortunately on the endangered list of animals facing extinction.
"The panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca, lit. "black and white cat-foot"), also known as the giant panda to distinguish the unrelated red panda, is a bear native to central-western and south western China. It is easily recognized by its large, distinctive black patches around the eyes, over the ears, and across its round body. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the panda's diet is 99% bamboo. Pandas in the wild will occasionally eat other grasses, wild tubers, or even meat in the form of birds, rodents or carrion. In captivity they may receive honey, eggs, fish, yams, shrub leaves, oranges, or bananas along with specially prepared feed.
The giant panda lives in a few mountain ranges in central China, mainly in Sichuan province, but also in the Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. Due to farming,deforestation and other development, the panda has been driven out of the lowland areas where it once lived.
The panda is a conservation reliant endangered species. A 2007 report shows 239 pandas living in captivity inside China and another 27 outside the country. Wild population estimates vary; one estimate shows that there are about 1,590 individuals living in the wild," Wikipedia
However, if you live in one of those parts of the country where your local zoo is fortunate enough to have a panda, then you should endeavor to record its images. Panda photos seem not to have a "bad" angle, since they are very photogenic but the best images should include samples of the entire body that clearly represents their distinct black & white markings as well as images of their facial expressions.
Try do capture many representative images such as when feeding and images of how they comsume their staple bamboo stalks and do so with extreme dexterity. If there are more than one panda available, then focus on their gentle interactions with one another.
Be very mindful that you will be photographing a species which has been photographed so many times as to lose count, your images therefore should stand out ob their own right. This will probably entail long hours of you photographically "stalking" them to record unusual perspectives and poses.
Try to get access to the panda exhibits during special times when there are less crowds and you do need to fight for a good angle or space.
These times might include feeding times and other occasions as well as presentations of newborn cubs,if such is the case.
Most zoos and preserves charge a fee for these times but you will have the opportunity of photographing them with much ease and while they more apt to be more alert and playful.
Make sure to take with you a zoom lens in the range of at least 300mm to be able to get in close and record detailed images.
Including some aspects of their enclosure is not necessary but may not be unavoidable. But at least try to limit how much of them you include in your images.
However, if feeding, then do make a concerted effort to show parts of their food, especially bamboo.
- Giant Panda Facts - National Zoo
Giant pandas live in broadleaf and coniferous forests with a dense understory of bamboo, at elevations between 5,000 and 10,000 feet.
© 2012 Luis E Gonzalez
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