Wildlife Photography Workshop Trip to ZooTampa

Skill Level: Beginning to Advanced
Location: ZooTampa at Lowry Park
Fee: $65 Polk Museum of Art Members, $115 non-members

In a first of its kind workshop for the Polk Museum of Art, in conjunction with ZooTampa at Lowery Park, photographer Gregory Mills will lead a photography workshop to ZooTampa. The best place to take wildlife photos that is not in the wild.

Join us for this special opportunity! Learn how to take professional close-up photos of wildlife, to adjust for various lighting conditions, to shoot around obstacles such as zoo enclosures, and how to make your photos look like they were not taken in a zoo.

Bring your longest lens such as a 55-200mm, 70-300mm or even better something like a 100-400 or a 150-600mm.

Students will meet at the entrance to the park at 9:00am sharp for a 30-minute lecture on wildlife photography and how to make the most of their time when inside the park. Students will then proceed as a group around the park discussing each enclosure, each animal, what they are doing, what to look for and how to cope with each situation as it presents itself. The instructor will be available to answer one-on-one questions from one exhibit to the next.

Please Note: Each student will be responsible for their transportation, providing their own admission into the zoo as well as food and drinks. These items are not included in the workshop fee.

Please contact me if you have questions about lenses or gear to bring.

Photos I took from the last time I went to ZooTampa. All Photos (c) Gregory Mills

Beginning to Intermediate Photography at the Polk Museum of Art (REGISTRATION NOT OPEN YET)

Mondays, February 3rd - March 9th, 6:00 - 9:00 PM
Skill Level: Beginning to Intermediate
Polk Museum of Art
Fee: $145 Members, $185 Non-Members

Any registrations submitted after the registration deadline includes a $35 late fee.

Whether you are brand new to photography or have taken this class before, this revised course will teach you the technical skills to use your digital camera. You will also learn to take better photos with your mobile phone. This class will teach you how to take photos of landscapes, portraiture, sports, night photography and many other subjects and techniques. Topic covered in the class include:
•    Composition
•    Tips for photographing people, landscapes, pets, fireworks, wildlife,  etc.
•    Controlling exposure
•    Buttons and features of most digital cameras
•    Advanced camera features of your mobile phone
•    Photo editing and photo organizing software

Participants will be responsible for providing their own digital SLR or mirrorless cameras.

Register for the class HERE or call the Polk Museum of Art Education office at (863) 688-5423.

A Note About Cameras and Tripods

A Digital SLR or mirrorless camera is recommended for the class, but advanced point & shoot cameras will also work provided they have a full manual mode. If you are looking to purchase a new camera, feel free to contact me with questions or specific recommendations. For entry level DSLRs you can’t go wrong with the Canon Rebel SL3 or the Nikon D3500. Nikon just announced that they are killing off all their low end DSLRs in favor of mirrorless cameras. I would not be surprised if Canon did the same thing in the year. This means you can get great deals on them but when it is time to get a new camera after that, you will need to move up to the Nikon D7000 series DSLR or a mid-range Canon. You can still use your current lenses so you would then only have to buy the camera body. Hopefully by that time you will have been bitten by the photography bug and want to move up to a better camera anyway. If not, buy the time you wear out an entry level DSLR in 5 years, your cellphone will be what you replace it with and they will have even better quality level as the current entry level DSLRs.

Since mirrorless is the wave of the future for all but professional quality cameras, the new Nikons should be available by the fall or in time for Christmas at the latest. If you want a mirrorless camera, the Sony A6000 is small and compact but buy an extra battery for it. Sony is coming out with the A7000 soon.

If you are looking for something very small yet incredibly powerful that will fit in a pocket look at the Sony RX100 VI which is a professional quality point and shoot camera with a price to match at $1,200. This camera will do everything well including 4K video but it does not have interchangeable lenses. The lens that is build in is really good and really the only one you will ever need. I own the Mark V which is the last generation and it is what I carry around whenever I don’t want to carry my big heavy pro DSLRs. The RX100 VI is the perfect travel camera since it easy easy to keep in a pocket book, in cargo pockets or around your neck and you don’t have to have a camera bag or extra lenses with you. Many professional YouTubers use this because it’s video capabilities are so good.


When you buy a DSLR or mirrorless camera, don’t buy any camera in kit with a camera bag and lots of accessories, 90% of which you will never use, instead just spend that extra money on a good tripod (not the cheap ones from Best Buy or Walmart). With the exception of the Sony RX100 VI, the cameras recommended above are the lowest end of Nikon, Canon and Sony’s line. If you can afford to move up a model or two, you will be very happy. I do not recommend cameras higher than 25 megapixels for beginners or intermediate photographers. They require flawless technique and even professional photographers have bought high megapixel cameras only to have many of their photos blurry and ruined for the first few months until they mastered their technique.

The only accessory you need to start with is a good tripod. I recommend Manfrotto tripods and I would purchase them at Marshall's Camera in Auburndale, FL so you can see how tall and how strong it is (check store hours before you go there). You can take the class without a tripod, but you will have to observe instead of participate on some of the exercises. For an affordable, very good quality tripod, look at the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB.

Note: Class time is primarily lecture, learning new techniques, looking at examples and learning your camera settings. We do not have much class time to go take photos. To get the most out of the class, take lots of photos throughout the week to practice what you learn in class. The more photos you take at home, the faster you learn!

Feel free to contact me with further questions.