Orangutan Portraits

My wife and I go to the Metro Toronto Zoo once a year and our favourite exhibit is the orangutans. Even though I know capturing any usable images will be a challenge I always take my camera gear.

Once we arrive at the orangutan exhibit, the glass on the enclosure is always dirtier than I remember it from the previous year. The glares always more plentiful. And, the opportunities to get a decent view always fewer than my memory told me they were.

This year I mounted my 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 on one of my Nikon 1 J5’s, hoping that the extra resolution and improved sensor performance would help yield some decent images. What follows are a few orangutan portraits.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/160, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/160, ISO-3200

We arrived late morning and by the time we got to the orangutan display some food was out for them. I positioned myself as best I could to shoot through the thick, soiled glass on the upper viewing platform.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-3200

Since the orangutans were feeding the range of facial expressions that they exhibited was rather restrained.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-3200

It was also a very busy day at the Metro Toronto Zoo which meant heavy traffic at the orangutan display. This resulted in a steady stream of people coming and going from the viewing platform. And, every person that was anywhere close to me created harsh glare patterns on the glass.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 201mm, efov 542mm, f/5.6, 1/160, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 201mm, efov 542mm, f/5.6, 1/160, ISO-3200

In order to capture anything usable I had to not only time my captures of the orangutans’ behaviour, but also sync them with fleeting opportunities where my view was not obstructed by glares created by other people on the platform.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 241mm, efov 649mm, f/5.6, 1/160, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 241mm, efov 649mm, f/5.6, 1/160, ISO-3200

Another complication was the minimum focusing distance of my 1 Nikon CX 70-300 lens. It is relatively short compared to other lenses yielding the same kind of equivalent field of view.. but given the close quarters involved if the orangutans moved too close to me I had to stop shooting and wait for them to move away.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 241mm, efov 649mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 241mm, efov 649mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-3200

Whenever possible I put my lens hood right up against the glass to help eliminate glare. At other times I had to use the manual focusing ring on my CX 70-300mm to acquire approximate focus through the glass, then let the auto-focus of the J5 snap it in the rest of the way for me.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 162mm, efov 438mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 162mm, efov 438mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-3200

The image above certainly isn’t a ‘keeper’ but I couldn’t help but show you folks the expression in this particular image.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-3200

One of my best captures of the day was from the opposite side of the orangutan exhibit. This meant that I didn’t have to shoot through any glass, but I was a good distance away resulting an aggressive crop on the above image. The additional resolution of the Nikon 1 J5 came in very handy indeed on this image.

Overall I was quite pleased with how the Nikon 1 J5 performed with the 1 Nikon CX 70-300 lens at the zoo.

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