I picked up a new 50-200mm telephoto zoom lens (for an upcoming leg of our travels) which arrived in Chiang Mai just before I started volunteering (thanks to the parents). So I had a chance to “kick the tires” a little at the park—specifically the photos I took of the elephants bathing in the river (or on their way there). All the other photos (and all the photos I’ve taken on the trip thus far) have been with Pentax’s 21mm F3.2 “pancake” lens.
One thing I learned in the process is just how hard wildlife photography is, especially knowing that these elephants are not that wild. Just because I have a telephoto zoom does not mean I instantly take awesome photos of animals. If anything, it’s harder, because my position in the immediate vicinity affects the final picture less, so I’m more dependent on the unpredictable behavior of the animal (“Umm, excuse me Mr. Elephant, could you please go back and hold that pose a little longer?”)
The experience did teach me a lot about the type of photos I enjoy taking: ones that capture the whole scene and ones where you feel immersed in the scene, both of which favor wider angles. With the elephants, I was surprised how often I had to “step back” with my 21mm (32mm-e) lens to capture the whole elephant, or otherwise get the composition I wanted. The wide angle, prime lens makes photography feel like an active, engaging sport. The telephoto zoom lens made me feel like a static, passive observer. At least on my first outing.
And now for something a little more elephantine:
The following 8 photos were taken with the telephoto zoom lens.