For whomever is in posession of a garden, naturephotography can have an easy start. Especially when it comes to close-
In your garden you can at your hearts content practice all day when necessary and you're sure to experience every season with it's typical plants and animals. Take into consideration to also incorperate a pond into your garden, you're sure to have a lot of fun photographing the frogs and dragonflies that will visit it.
Wintertime is a bit of a dull period in the garden except for the birds, but as soon as jack frost leaves the country and the days grow longer things can go very fast, first you have the snowdrops and helleborusses, then in rappid sequence the rest of the spring flowers wil pop up, crocuses, winter aconites, hyacinths, fritilleries etc.
You can decide to devide the garden up into different habitats, however small they are, it wil give rise to more variation in the garden not only of plants but also of animals.
A great pasttime can be to photograph everything that is present in the garden each month, if you keep this up for a year you have yourself an overview with which you can relate to nature what and when plants and animals are to be seen and photographed. Cause let's be honest photographing in your garden is fun, but to be out and about in nature is even more fun and like I said before you can use your garden phototgraphs as a reference to determine what can be seen where and at which time. I did this myself in the garden of my parents and I made a kind of synopsis of it in the form of a website which I still enjoy watching. But the real natural feeling can only be had in nature itself ofcourse. Stil there are photographers that have specialized themselves solely in garden photography and lets face it there are enough garden magazines to whom they can sell their pictures.
To take a short sidestep from photography, whoever can count him/herself lucky enough to have frogs in the garden he or she can easily make them get used to onesself, they wil respond to your voice and wil even recognise people by it. This can even go as far as enticing them to go sit on your hand whenever you present them with a fly or something other that you have caught. Especialy green frogs (edible frogs) are prone to do this. I have some experience with this myself as well.
In short the garden makes for good practice where everything is close at hand and to some extent things can be staged.
Photography in a zoo:
Photographing in a zoo is somewhat similar to photographing in a garden, animals and plants are situated in a controled environment, albeit that you cann't stage the environment itself ofcourse. This immediately is the bigest difference you have to make do with how one has created the setting. This on the one hand makes it more difficult because you have to take the fencing, glas, gauze and other people into account. One advantage is that the setting is often mimicking nature very well. Next to that more and more zoo's are creating enclosures without gauge of any kind in which you can approach the animals very closely. The bigest challenge is to create a background without the clutter of objects and people. On the other hand one can wait endlessly until the right situation finaly arises. A few tips: if you cann't avoid photographing through gauge or glass, get as close as possible to it an photograph straight through it, avoid photographing at an angle to the glas or gauge. When photographing through glass avoid using the flash at all cost. Visit the zoo at times when it isn't very crowded, so avoid holidays and such. Feeding is often prohibited. Come as close to the subjects as possible and isolate it, if necessary yust photograph details. Try photographing natural behaviour however difficult this may be in a zoo. Take shots of movement and unexpected situations, anticipate. Another type of zoo in which it is far more possible to photograph natural behaviour is predominantly found in Germany and is called a gehege. This is a park like or natural surrounding in which the animals roam free in a fenced but far larger natural setting. Here you have ample oppertunity to maneuver arround and find a suited background and even if it is crowded you can avoid the crowd. Especially in autumn and during wintertime one can make nice photographs here because the animals aren't obstructed from view by all the lush green arround.