Editor’s Note: Each week we’ll be featuring members of the Photofocus community.  Part of our New Year’s resolution is to focus on new and emerging talent.  As such, Melissa Niu will personally select images from our readers and feature them here on Photofocus.

We can’t all make a trip to Africa but fortunately I live just 20 minutes from the world class Memphis Zoo. Zoos afford the average photographer the opportunity to create high impact images of beautiful and exotic animals. There is not the difficulty of capturing an image in the wild, but you do have the challenge of minimizing the unnatural aspects of captive animals. I think of my Zoo photography as animal portraiture trying to capture the essence of the animal, and hopefully eliciting a response in the viewer to care about and conserve the natural world.

This is a photograph of an African Pygmy Falcon which only stands 12 inches tall, however it still has the intensity of any bird of prey. The photograph was taken at the Memphis Zoo aviary with a Canon 5d MkIII and a Canon 100 – 400mm zoom attached to a Canon 1.4 teleconverter. It was handheld at 1/60, f8.0, at ISO 2000. The RAW file was processed using the Nik Viveza and Silver Efex Pro plugins for Photoshop.

To see more of Michael’s work go to or follow him on Facebook.

If you would like your photo featured, read this article.

We’re excited to feature your work to the Photofocus audience!


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Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. great shot, now time to plan a visit to my local zoo!


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About MelissaNiu

Melissa Niu is a storyteller at heart. Niu's work ranges from her Broadcast Journalism experience at NBC in Seattle to her recent work as a co-founder and host of the photography platform, [FRAMED] Network. Her passion for photography, music and journalistic skills harvests into a massive need to tell a good story. As a mother of three daughters and running multiple businesses, Niu is constantly seeking balance, health, laughter and progression.


Featured Photo, Photography, Shooting, Wildlife, Your Focus