EOS photographer BP Chua shares an exciting opportunity at Noah’s Ark Natural Animal Sanctuary in Johor Bahru for shutterbugs to shoot animals and wildlife at lens-licking proximity as well as to promote animal rights and welfare.

Noah’s Ark Natural Animal Sanctuary is a refuge for abused and abandoned pets and animals.

EOS-1D X | F/2.8 | ISO 640 | 1/500s

EOS-1D X | F/2.8 | ISO 400 | 1/320s

EOS-1D X | F/3.5 | ISO 320 | 1/180s

Here you’ll find dogs and cats that have been brought to the sanctuary by their owners or caregivers who have to surrender them for various reasons. Ex-race or polo horses who are no longer able to perform, as well as injured monkeys that have been treated and given a home by the resident vet can also be found at the sanctuary.

EOS-1D X | F/2.8 | ISO 500 | 1/500s

EOS 7D Mark II | F/2 | ISO 250 | 1/200s

I learnt about Noah’s Ark after my animal-loving wife came across a Facebook event where they invited photographers to visit the sanctuary to photograph the animals.

By paying a small fee, they will organise transport to fetch you to and from their sanctuary in Johor Bahru, which is a 20-minute ride from the Malaysian side of the Causeway.

EOS-1D X | F/2.8 | ISO 640 | 1/2500s

EOS-1D X | F/2.5 | ISO 320 | 1/160s

EOS-1D X | F/2.5 | ISO 200 | 1/1250s

What is amazing is that the animals love visitors and are not shy. The challenge is to get the animal to maintain eye contact with you while you are pointing your lens at them and not to let them lick your equipment while you are at it.

EOS-1D X | F/2.8 | ISO 400 | 1/800s

EOS 7D Mark II | F/4 | ISO 800 | 1/500s

Since I had the wonderful opportunity to be this close to the animals, I brought along my EF70-200mm f/2.8L USMEF50mm f/1.2L USMEF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM and EF8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM lenses with my Canon EOS-1D X and EOS 7D Mark II bodies.

I wished I had my EF300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens with me as that would have been perfect for shooting the animals’ faces close up.

EOS-1D X | F/2.8 | ISO  640 | 1/1250s

My advice is to carry standard focal length lenses since the animals can come close to you, which is a rare opportunity and different from shooting wild or stray animals. You can even experiment with various perspectives for more interesting compositions.

EOS-1D X | F/2.8 | ISO  640 | 1/1000s

EOS-1D X | F/2.8 | ISO  640 | 1/640s

Based on my experience, I would recommend shooting at the widest aperture of your lens such as at f/2.8 and f/4. I am thankful that Canon lenses are always sharp at any aperture setting.

Capturing the horses, cats and dogs with my 50mm lens produced some great bokehs as the animals came pretty close to me. I mostly kept my camera settings at a wide open aperture such as f/2.8 and f/4, depending on the lens.

EOS 7D Mark II | F/4 | ISO 640 | 1/250s

EOS-1D X | F/2.2 | ISO 320 | 1/500s

EOS 7D Mark II | F/4 | ISO 400 | 1/400s

My shutter speed was at least at 1/100 sec to minimise camera shake or motion blur from being handheld. My ISO depends on the brightness of the location. I visited the place on a cloudy day but I was thankful it did not rain.

I spent about five hours at the animal sanctuary but it was well-spent as I had plenty of fun photographing friendly animals for a change. 

If you are interested in learning more about Noah’s Ark, do check out  http://nanasanctuary.blogspot.sg/