By Jim Zuckerman
The Memphis Zoo is one of only four zoos in the U.S. that have the giant panda. The exhibit is divided by an indoor and outdoor portion, and although the former separates people from the animals by thick glass, photography is not a problem if you are careful. I found that the glass didn’t degrade the quality of my images, but it can reflect light objects or structures behind me. I had to press my lens up to the glass and use my hand to cup the lens and block any possible reflection. A rubber lens hood would have been better, but my hand worked out just fine.
Pandas sleep a lot, so it requires patience to wait for some kind of animation. I was able to take this shot with my 1Ds Mark II and 70-200mm f/2.8 IS Canon telephoto with the ISO set to 400.
The picture was taken hand held and I used shutter priority. I set the shutter speed to 1/60th of a second, which was the slowest speed I felt comfortable with. That afforded me the smallest lens aperture possible given the light conditions. I was trying to get the nose in focus, but since the light was fairly low I just couldn't do it. The nose is still a bit soft. I could have raised my ISO, but due to the increase in noise I didn’t want to do that.