Zoolights - Portland, OR

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BobH

Administrator
Staff member
Zoolights at the Oregon Zoo in Portland, OR is a very popular event. Every year they decorate the zoo in an amazing array of lights.The results are beautiful.

The zoo comes alive as you walk through this winter wonderland of more than a million lights. This winter festival includes our lighted zoo train, choral and ensemble music, and our fantastic gift shop. Closed Dec. 24 and 25.
It's no suprise that they use LED lights for most of the displays, they use far less power and last a lot longer. They can be a bit of a challenge for photographers though. They're tiny, but very bright. Long exposures often result in "lens flare", and you need to be careful in picking settings to minimize that.
 

BobH

Administrator
Staff member
I attended on opening night, November 27th. There was a nice crowd, but it wasn't too packed. My wife Deb along with Arline and Robert went with me and we had a great time.

Here's some shots of the displays:
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BobH

Administrator
Staff member
Many of the displays are animated

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This one is a school of fish swimming around (and around, and around ;))

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BobH

Administrator
Staff member
OK, so the Zoolights display at Portland is quite nice, but they also have one in Tacoma that's pretty good. Why would I drive all the way to Portland? Those of you who know me also know the answer...

The Washington Park & Zoo Railway is a real favorite of mine, and they run steam during Zoolights.

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BobH

Administrator
Staff member
Trying to capture a good shot of the train in motion after dark is a real challenge....

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BobH

Administrator
Staff member
If you don't worry about capturing the shape of the train and just go for "artistic", you can get some pretty cool looking stuff.

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arlinescott

Super Moderator
Staff member
More stuff from the zoo... Believe it or not Baughb, they have animals there...

Funny part is, of all these photos, my favorite of the lights is the overexposed and purposely blurred shot.
 

BobH

Administrator
Staff member
More stuff from the zoo... Believe it or not Baughb, they have animals there...
Yes, I know that! They have Elk, and Birds and Elephants. I've seen them from the train.

(The inside joke here is that I often go to the zoo and spend the entire day riding and photographing the train and never visiting the animals.)

Funny part is, of all these photos, my favorite of the lights is the overexposed and purposely blurred shot.
I'd have to agree! That's very cool. Print that stuff and make wrapping paper...
 

BobH

Administrator
Staff member
I was able to return later, and get some additional photos. I got permission from the Zoo director to be "back stage" and get photos in areas not open to the public. These are my favorite photos. This section was all removed when they created the new elephant habitat.

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BobH

Administrator
Staff member
The favorite photo of them all. I worked with the Zoo railroad for quite a few years, and they use my photography for PR. They wanted a photo of the train all lit up on the bridge. I told them that I couldn't do it with the train moving. They didn't want to stop on the bridge with passengers for safety reasons. They had an answer though. The steam train had to make a lap empty to get into the storage tunnel. They could stop the empty train. I was given a radio so I could position the train and told "You'll have one shot at this, about 5 minutes max". This was the result.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
I have not been to the Portland zoo in ages. About 28 years ago we went to Zoo Lights and rode the train back when my kids were young.
 

BobH

Administrator
Staff member
It’s been a long while for me too. The zoo train track to the Rose Garden has been out of service for years now, and the new loop in the zoo is very short. It really is a wonderful zoo, but also far enough away that without the added incentive of a good train ride, I’ll just visit my local ones.
Back in 2009, when these were taken, the wait for the zoo train was 3 hours at times. They ran 2 trains and couldn’t handle the crowds.
 

Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Too bad the track to the Rose Garden is out of service. It was really fun listening to the steam engine working hard as it climbed the grade from the garden back to the zoo.
 

BobH

Administrator
Staff member
Listening to her working hard coming up the hill was very cool! Running her up the hill was even better, with a full train, it takes everything she has to get back up the hill.

Current plans are to remove the line and put in a trail. There is a group working hard to save it and they’re making progress. I hope they can!
 
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