Saturday, April 17, 2010

Chiang Mai Day 2

On our second day in Chiang Mai, we visited the zoo.  The Chiang Mai zoo is most famous for its baby panda, Lin Hui.  Lin Hui was born in Thailand, although at some point will have to be returned to China.

The zoo was not bad.  The animal show, featuring mostly birds, was entertaining, particularly for the kids.  A white macaw flew up to Jacob in the audience.  In order to get the bird to fly to you, you had to have twenty baht out for the bird to retrieve.  Its less than a dollar, so not a big deal.

Lin Hui and her father were on display in the new half million dollar habitat built.  They were actually kept separately.  The zoo was fairly busy for Songklon, and Lin Hui being the big attraction, they ended up limiting viewing to about five minutes.  We were pretty lucky in that the line was fairly short when we got there.  Since we had kids, they let us wait inside in the air conditioning.

They did not allow flash photography of the baby panda.  Apparently he can't blink.  For people with point and shoot cameras, they put black tape over the flash.  Its actually a pretty good idea, since some people probably don't know how to turn it off.  I started to put my detachable flash away, but Tim said the guy wasn't concerned so long as I turned it off.

The lack of flahs combined with the distance we were away from him and the poor lighting made getting a nice photo a bit of a challenge.  I had my 70-200 zoom lens, shooting wide open, and I still had to shoot at 1600 iso, which can leave the image a bit noisy.  To put it in perspective, if I can I shoot at 100 iso.  I'm pretty happy shooting at 200, and even 400 isn't too bad.  I really don't like getting to 800, 1600 and even the occassional 3200.  Unfortunately, my shots of the cub were all of the later three iso settings.

I didn't have my tripod with me, although I don't know if they would allow you to set one up.  My images came out okay.  At one point I was trying to use the rail to help steady the shot, but I still didn't try at a lower iso.

The father was actually much easier to shoot, as he was larger, closer to the guests, and in much better lighting.  And while they limited your time with the cub to about five minutes, they let guests watch the father for a much longer time.  I'm not sure where the mother was at the time.

We were lucky we went to see the pandas when we did.  They exhibit is only open three times a day.  Later in the afternoon there was a really long line to see them.  I really would not have wanted to wait.

Here are some photos:

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