Photowalking Utah: The Living Planet Aquarium

It’s been a busy photography week for me in a variety of ways, perhaps most importantly was the upgrade of my camera from the Canon 5D Mark II to the Canon 5D Mark III. As we all know, a camera is just a tool, but getting that cool, not new technological marvel can be a great new tool. I like to say though, with a better tool I can make even better terrible photos!

My camera had just arrive Friday late afternoon, and Saturday morning early I had the opportunity to join a small Photowalking Utah group at The Living Planet Aquarium before hour for some photography fun. We were given some quiet special access to try and make photos not only for ourselves, but to share with the aquarium’s marketing department.


We charged right in and started making photos, quickly to learn this was going to be much more challenging than perhaps many of us anticipated. Perhaps I should speak only for myself and admit it was tough. Shooting in low light, with moving subjects and through thick acrylic created some difficult circumstances. Even with my new high ISO capable beast, I found that prime lenses with the wide open aperture were a must. It was also wise to plan your composition where lighting was best, manually focus and wait for the animal to move into the right area.

Some subjects became fast favorites for their well posed looks and holding still. I loved this snake because of these points and his awesome color and detailed scales. He let us set up tripods and take our time with long exposures to get the great shots. Others were faster moving and provided their decidedly more challenging circumstances.

I realized later I completely missed the otters and a few other exhibited animals, so I am determined to head back and try my hand again soon at capturing these beautiful creates. I realize they are captive, but they still make for wonderful opportunities and interactions. Speaking of interactions…

I called this the “golden ticket” and started singing the song when I was so lucky to get picked. The Aquarium staff announced that 4 people would be selected by drawing to go behind-the-scenes and into the back of the exhibits. They hard marked 4 tickets with a pink dot, fanned them out and we pulled out tickets. I was lucky enough to draw one of those tickets. Perhaps the coolest part was interacting with the penguins up close and personal.

When I say up close, I mean it. This is taken at 16mm at about 8 inches away. Several came up right among us, even nipping at our gear to see if it tasted any good. It was awesome. I hope one of the other 4 have a shot or two of me down on the ground with these beautiful creatures.

I could keep posting all the photos I picked as my “favorites” from the bunch, but I’ll wrap it up here. It’s been awhile since I had this much fun on a photo outing. Thanks to Zackary Hansen for making the arrangements and organizing the photowalk.

You can see (and even purchase if you are so inclined) more of my photos from this event over on my SmugMug site.