On a recent photography assignment I was creating some very hi-res animal portraits at the Auckland Zoo.  These images are part of a project I am doing in conjunction with some of my sponsors and the Auckland Zoo, which will bring exposure to the great breeding and in-the-wild conservation projects that the Zoo is involved with.

The resulting images will be on display for the first time ever as part of Auckland’s Festival of Photography during an exhibition I am holding at Shed Five in Wellesley Street, Auckland (open daily 8th to 21st June 2013).

Getting these portraits was a load of fun, and certainly an educational experience as I spent time with the keepers and learnt more about not only the individual characters I met and photographed over the four days of shooting, but how their role at the zoo often played a very important part in the survival of their species in the wild.

From patting a friendly rhino on the head through to photographing a curious lemur who kept grabbing the front of my camera lens, I certainly came away with some great stories to share.  But I wanted to share with you how I used my radiopoppers to provide light on a dull day.

My last shoot day at the zoo was very dark and gloomy with regular bouts of heavy rain.  Not ideal conditions for animal portraiture.  I decided to add some light of my own but I am always very reluctant to use on camera flash.  Instead, I rigged my radiopopper PX transmitter to the D800E.

The real beauty of this is that no extra Speedlight or transmitter is needed.  The radiopopper sits on a small bracket in the hotshoe.  You simply switch the D800’s popup flash into commander mode and away you go.  The system is just so simple and reliable which allows me to focus my attention purely on my subject and the composition of my image.

I used a single Speedlight mounted on a pole with the Radiopopper PX receiver and Greg who was assisting me was able to position the Speedlight to the side of the animal I was shooting.  This provided nicely pleasant side lighting without being too obvious, but added the much needed “pop” on this very wet and dull day.

I have attached a couple of images taken of the Cheetahs who were lying on the ground only a few metres away from me.  You can see the steady rain falling in the background.  (These images will not be in the exhibition so I thought I would share them with you here).  You’ll have to pop along to the exhibition to see the rest, and we definitely got some great shots of some amazing characters.  I can’t wait for you to meet them all!

Cheers, Chris

Nikon D800E,  Nikkor 70-200mm lens (at 200mm).  ISO 640.  F2.8 at 1/250 second.  SB 910 speedlite fired in TTL mode via Radiopopper PX system.  Rogue softbox.

Nikon D800E,  Nikkor 70-200mm lens (at 122mm).  ISO 400.  F2.8 at 1/250 second.  SB 910 speedlite fired in TTL mode via Radiopopper PX system.  Rogue softbox.

Images copyright Chris McLennan Photography Ltd.

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