Photo Series-the Red Panda

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When we hear the word panda, most of us think of the giant panda native to parts of Asia, especially China. And why not? These are beautful creatures worthy of a photo shoot. But there is another creature which bears the same name minus the giant part. The red panda looks like a miniaturized version of a cute little bear. Almost a cross between a cat and a bear.

Like its giant cousin, it is also an endangered species and effort must be made to secure its existence in the wild. Although there are many zoos which feature these lovely creature, this species is difficult to fully appreciate mostly due to the fact that they are mostly nocturnal animals and loners at the same time.

"The red panda (Ailurus fulgens, or shining-cat), is a small arboreal mammal native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China.[2] It is the only extant species of the genus Ailurus. Slightly larger than a domestic cat, it has reddish-brown fur, a long, shaggy tail, and a waddling gait due to its shorter front legs. It feeds mainly onbamboo, but is omnivorous and may also eat eggs, birds, insects, and small mammals. It is a solitary animal, mainly active from dusk to dawn, and is largely sedentaryduring the day.

The red panda has been classified as Vulnerable by IUCN because its population is estimated at fewer than 10,000 mature individuals. Although red pandas are protected by national laws in their range countries, their numbers in the wild continue to decline mainly due to habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, and inbreeding depression.[2]

The red panda has been previously classified in the families Procyonidae (raccoons) and Ursidae (bears), but recent research has placed it in its own family Ailuridae, in superfamily Musteloidea along with Mustelidae and Procyonidae.[4] Two subspecies are recognized." Wikipedia

Locating some subjects should not that hard since they are highly adaptable to captivity. The challenge will be in recording good images which features them in active poses or interacting with each othre. Their "reddish" coloration hence its name, makes then good suitable subjects and their images are quite pleasing to look at.

To capture good images you should try to use a zoom lens in the range of no less than 300mm as this will allow you to get really close up images of their features, especially their faces. Once you see one you will immediately see a resemblance to the color patterns of the giant panda.

You will also notice their furry tails and agility in climbing trees. If you witness them while feeding you can also see that they share a taste for bamboo with the other pandas.


For many photographic projects involving animals in captivity, the best alternative is to secure permission from the local preserve or zoo to photograph during special times when the establishments are less crowded and at times that features feedings or other "not open to the general public" activities.

Off course there is always a fee for this but it's well worth it and it is not usually that high. Another alternative is to become a member of the local zoological society which automatically grants you access to many of these special times as well as year round entrance to the zoo or preserve.

If you gain access to any of these special times be prepared to patiently "stalk" your subjects to catch them when they are most active and doing some activities that are worthy of being photographed such as climbing, eating, running or scurrying along the ground.

Consider using a flash unit since these creatures are often found among the foliage of their favorite tree and these can sometimes cast shadows that obscure details.

You should record various angles and from various perspectives. Also include images of the entire body, close ups of their face, and very close up details of the area around the eyes.

A more complete project usually has several images of different poses. Good to do is to take shots in both vertical and horizontal perspectives. Many advertisers like to add their own text and giving them both of these sizes allows them to do so with ease, therefore your images are more apt to be sold.

If you also have a talent for writing, then consider approaching the project from a writer's mindset. The best sales occur when an editor not only has good images but also counts with a well written article to complement them.

Research the publications that may be interested in such a work and write the piece around their considerations and interests such as a conservation effort from a naturalist publication.

© 2012 Luis E Gonzalez

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sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

What a cute creature! I have heard of them, but have never been lucky enough to see one. I will have to remedy that. Awesome pictures and great information. Voted up, interesting and sharing on my blog. Have a great day! :)

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