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The Monkeys Escape!

Ephotozine Members Meeting At Chester Zoo as the largest group to date

|  Members' Meetings
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The Monkeys Escape!

Back row: (left to right) Mattwaggie, the orderingone, denise(John & Denise), greyheron53, boyd-longley, auntsally, characterboats, shirley, ronthomas, Ziggy(It's a guess sorry), Brian1208, Wing, Phoenix , Kyd's+1(Stewart), crdavies007, Arnieg, Alantw(another guess), stevieb(sitting), icedub, Jeanie(sitting).
Front Row: Warb, Zoe(sideraths+1), siderath, Zippie, femin2003, Carsten, parkmyferret, kyd.

It started with a few cautious people milling around in an empty car park, one person idly kicking stones, others looking at the floor avoiding eye contact, some even chatting quietly. A car pulls up near the main entrance, after a few minutes a figure steps out from a parked car and approaches

EPZ, are you Matt? came the question. Certainly was, out came the A4 ePHOTOzine sign, a few looked up and smiled. A group of around ten soon formed just after 09.30 in the car park of Chester Zoo, it was bright, but overcast. After the initial introductions conversations were soon struck up and it was like old friends meeting again.

As the group slowly grew a sinister looking blue van drew up, closely followed by a grey ford. The infamous SEEING group had arrived, an unearthly start of 4am saw them arrive on time, from the Deep South (well Kent really).

Ten o'clock came and went, as conversations deepened, then the experience of a guide leader came into play, Aunt Sally rallied the troops and all headed for the entrance.

Enter the zoo
Everybody made it safely through the entrance and milled around near the Elephant enclosure where the group photo was composed. There were a few strange looks from the other visitors as thirty two (Yes, thirty two possibly an ePHOTOzine record) EPZ members tried to look casual and comfortable on the other end of the lens. Once that was done it was decided to meet at 1pm at the Ark Restaurant. Groups of people set of in several different directions; the smart ones had listened to the advice of Andy, 12.00 at the Jaguar house, which was feeding time.

A leisurely stroll across to the other side of the zoo passing several furry creatures, some ugly and others cute.

Photographers tripping over each other around the pens, trying to capture the animals, as well as the Zoo's exhibits. Then it started, at first a few drops which steadily got heavier, until it was a full on downpour, not that it dampened anybodies spirits though. A quick coffee and a mad dash to the Jaguar house just before twelve saw people bustling for some indoor shots at feeding time. Light was difficult for many shots, but it was awe-inspiring to watch the graceful cat bounding around the enclosure, muscles rippling under it's fur coat.

Now the fun really started, dashing around the different indoor exhibits, laughing and taking the mickey out of each other.

Techniques and equipment were shared in the Aquarium, many learning from a few masters of the art.

The Monkeys Escape!
The Monkeys Escape!
Jaguar - just after feeding time.

At the restaurant a few were already there, drying out with a coffee. Again conversations were struck up and the numbers began to swell, then it happened. A first for an ePHOTO meet, the Editor entered the room along with a soggy looking K. Cue various comments about EC's or more importantly the lack of them

The Monkeys Escape!Pete's camouflage outfit didn't seem to be doing the job too well

Goodbyes were said to Stevieb, who was dashing off for some international emergency or other!

The Monkeys Escape!
Characterboats "I'm sure there's a kingfisher up there."

A group decision was quickly made to send Shirley and Aunt Sally for some of the attractive Chester Zoo Ponchos. A tasteful ensemble made of green PVC. They did the job well though, keeping several members dry, and making others wearing backpacks look like Quasimodo.

The group set out again and slowly spread out, eventually breaking into smaller groups, which again met up at the Otters pen; these mischievous little animals were playing havoc with the keeper who was attempting to clean up after them. A futile task, especially as they were constantly trying to get into the large sack of hay. Just as we were going to move on a second keeper arrived for feeding time, many hard boiled eggs later the otters were satisfied and many shots had been run off.

Slowly moving around as the afternoon passed by, the group congregated at the rather noisy Lion enclosure, he could be heard in most parts of the Zoo roaring.

Now imagine, you are a professional wedding photographer covering a wedding, you are taking shots of the Bride and Groom near to a large ornate building in the middle of the zoo, when you stumble across a group of amateurs with enough gear to put you to shame I did feel sorry for him with so much Canon L glass on show! The zoo offer wedding services on site.

The Monkeys Escape!

The Monkeys Escape!

The Monkeys Escape!

The Monkeys Escape!
Jeanie takes a picture on the latest 12MP phonecam

Onto the Sea-lions for a few frames before feeding time, lots of ahh's aimed in the direction of the baby sea-lion. Then the frenzy commenced as fish were thrown around and the sea-lions chased.

The Monkeys Escape!

The Monkeys Escape!

  Feeding time again

A few members wanted to capture the Tigers on film or sensor so a quick visit was paid to them; it was funny to see the male pacing the edge of the cage following Pete who was dashing up and down trying to get the shot.

A quick look at the watch and it was 16.15; the zoo closes at six and over half the Zoo still to cover. A flying visit around the rest, laughing at one bird that was prancing around for attention as his partner walking slowly further back got all the lenses aimed in her direction.


Take aim

The Monkeys Escape!

By this time most animals had been put away for the night, but we had to get to the Meerkats, who were locked away as well. Fortunately they had a large window to view them, and they certainly played up to the camera, almost like they had been trained since young to do it.

By this time it was late in the day, 17.50, the keepers were preparing a search party for the stragglers. One final group shot outside and a bit more chatting among members (do you see a pattern here?) and all except eight made their way home.

The last eight stopped of at a local pub for a bite to eat and more chat.

All in all it was a good day, albeit damp for most of it. Many new friendships were formed and old ones refreshed.

I'm not sure the zoo knew quite what hit it that day in September

The Monkeys Escape!
Just showing off!

The Monkeys Escape!

Words by Matt Wagster


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