Photo of the Day #20: Playing Sea Lions


This is Cali and Summer, two California Sea Lions (Zalophus californianus) at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Both rescued from wild populations (Summer was abandoned by her mother and Cali's mother died soon after Cali was botn), the two were raised by human keepers and so require a lot of care. They still play with each other nearly constantly, however, this shot taken during a sort of "King of the Rock" game.

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You are an amazing photographer, Brian. I also love to take photos when I go to the zoo, but I always consider myself lucky to even the picture in focus; I couldn't hope to approach the artist composition that many of your pictures exhibit (then again, I've only been taking pictures for a little under a year). If you don't mind me asking, what kind of camera do you use?

We discussed this in comments not that long ago,actually. Here's the quote:

"I use an Olympus E-300 camera, usually with an automatic 40-140mm lens. I actually still don't know what half the buttons on it actually do, but it takes great pictures (you can get them on eBay for $300-$400, at least I was able to). The camera is a digital SLR and I absolutely love it."

Thanks for the compliments, Dave, and for the help Waterdog. I get this sort of question a lot, so I think I'll write up a post all about where I go and what I do to get the photographs I've posted here. I am by no means a pro or even skilled amateur photographer (if I joined a club I'm sure they'd laugh at my inexperience), but I'm pleased with a lot of the shots I've gotten.

Nice shot. It really gives a sense of motion and fluidity, and once again, you've actually managed to make it seem as if we're peeking at a colony at the Farallon Islands.

One thing I love about your photography is how you always seem to manage to create an illusion of 'wildness'; I'm always hard-pressed to see any signs that these are zoo captives. Too many photographs of zoo animals are ruined by an inconvenient fence or concrete wall in the background, or reflection from the glass, or an unnatural-looking habitat (say, for example, a camel in a bare open patch with what looks like rainforest growing in the background)

Thanks again for the compliments and such, everyone. Hai-Ren; the relatively shallow depth of field and some positioning definitely helps with this, so I try to get them isolated in front of a background that's a little further away if at all possible. Most of it is just luck, I think, but I appreciate your compliments all the same. I know that these are all taken in zoos and so I don't really consider them to be "real" wildlife photography, but I'm glad they give the impression that they could have been taken elsewhere.