A trip to the Serengeti is costly and challenging. But many zoos, with habitats that mimic a creature’s natural environment can offer great animal moments. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

• Pay attention to the background. Find a sightline free of people, signs, and other non-natural items.

• Using a wide aperture, particularly with a telephoto lens, it will help when a busy background can’t be avoided.

• If the animal is behind glass, use an off-camera strobe to avoid glare if you must light the scene.

• Focus on the eye. It’s where the viewer is first drawn, so the eye must be in focus.

• Wildlife photos are best at the animal’s eye level, so get down to their level.

Adapted from The Kodak Most Basic Book of Digital Nature Photography by Russell Graves (Lark Books, 2008; $15)