During a trip like this, where you've come to do a certain tour, you need a little break once in awhile. This is exactly what we did today and did something completely different. This is our last day in Blois before moving on.
From the map above you can see how large the zoo is.
Not too far away from Blois situated in the middle of nowhere is one of the best zoos in the world. I believe it's on the Top 10 list and that is where we headed. It's called Beauval Zoo and about an hours drive from Blois. Entry is quite expensive at €26 per person but when you look at the size and the diversity of animals at the zoo, it's quite understandable. It costs an enormous amount of money to run.
We woke to a steady drizzle, you know, the sort that really gets you soaked within minutes. We got in the car and drove there anyway, a little rain never hurt anybody and as the day wore on the weather got better. This must be one of the largest zoos I've evr been to. It took us four hours just to go around the general area of the zoo without really stopping to study some species or other. I definitely got my 10000 steps in today! It is a nice day out. I generally don't approve of zoos but you have to admit they do an important job of keeping some species in existence as well as introducing breeding programs.
I thought today was a good opportunity to use the Olympus 75-300 f4.8-6.7. It's the original version and I have no intention of upgrading to the newer one. If I do upgrade my longer lens it will be the Panasonic 100-400 f4.0-6.3. It's a good thing I brought this lens with me because I really had no idea I would have a chance to use it. You never know what’s going to turn up and you should always play it safe.
Olympus E-M1 - Olympus 75-300 f4.8-6.7 Version I
Animals don't always do what you wished they would do.
I really thought this was some sort of canine when I first looked in it's direction. I think it does sit like a dog.
Having Pandas at a zoo is really a prestige thing and it was evident at Beauval Zoo too. Marketing, marketing, marketing. All we saw though though was the panda in the tree sleeping it's head off.
This is the head wife as she was in under the overhang with the silverback.
And here is the boss. Boy, he was big.
This is the young silverback, wishing he was boss.
He wasn't small either. Majestic and largest anthropoid ape on earth. If these were to disappear it would be a sad day indeed.
What's going on here then? Obviously training for a new trick.
I'm sure they thought I was lunch the way they were looking at me.
Hummingbird Moth. I'm proud of this image because these don't stay in one place longer than a millisecond.
The absolute best about this zoo is the bird show they hold twice a day. It is like nothing I have ever seen before with multiple flocks of birds flying all over the place. I was really impressed. If you ever visit, make a note of this show as it is remarkable. Not to be missed.
Olympus E-M1 - Olympus 75-300 f4.8-6.7 Version I
I tend to compare my lenses these days to the Olympus 12-100 f4 because micro-contrast on that lens is superb. Even looking through the EVF you could tell that the 75-300 lacks contrast and sometimes the lens wouldn't lock focus, even after several attempts. Nevertheless, I did manage to get a few keepers but a better lens would have yielded a few more, hence the thought about the Panasonic 100-400. Images I've seen from that lens look very good indeed. It does seem a little slow at the long end at f6.3, but still a little faster than my Olympus 75-300.
An upgrade like this is something to really think about. How often do I use a long lens like the Panasonic 100-400. For birders, such a lens is a no-brainer, but personally I’m not sure it would suit my photography. I don't use these longer lenses very much and using it as a paper weight doesn’t really appeal so....
I had an opportunity to use the Olympus 25 f1.2 in the vivarium. Very please with the lens. See images below.
Olympus E-M5 II -Olympus 25 f1.2 Pro
The hair details are amazing. This is one really sharp lens withexcellent rendition. I was sceptical about buying yet another 50mm equivalent lens, but on seeing these images I'm glad I did. Worth every penny.
On the way home we stopped at a small village called St. Aignant-sur-Cher. Officially this is where the zoo is located but it is a few kilometres outside of the village. Like I said, the zoo is really in the middle of nowhere. All these villages tend to idyllic, and yes, it also has a chateau. The whole region is quite lovely which would explain why there are so many chateaus in the area.
I also took some shots with the Panasonic TZ101. It's proved to be a godsend at times and has earned a place in my camera bag. And it's small.
I love these stained glass windows and every one is pretty much unique. Real masterpieces.
his is of course the chateau in Blois, taken after we got back in the evening.
Olympus E-M5 II - Olympus 25 f1.2 Pro