Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Fred-"Bull 36: Some Thoughts On Wildlife Photography

It seems that one is always looking for that super, award winning shot and may be disappointed with a day afield if such an opportunity does not present itself. I know I am always looking for such photographs and video footage, yet if we concentrate on that to too great of a degree we may miss a certain type of shot that is valuable in its' own way.

Elk In "Natural" Setting: actually part of a reclaimed area

I seldom used to photograph or film the elk in town, except when I wanted footage documenting that situation. I have come to photograph these animals more and more as I find that it documents a different aspect of Pennsylvania's Elk Range, and the town of Benezette in particular. While I ordinarily think of foot trips in the backcountry when visualizing elk photography, this is not what most tourists do. The photographs featured today are actually more representative of what they may encounter-along with roadside encounters on Winslow Hill Road and Route 555.

Low Light Levels and a lot of distracting objects usually define this type of photography. All of the photographs featured today(except for the elk in bright sunlight by the pond) were taken at ISO 1600 with the 70-200mm f2.8 IS,. The highest shutter speed used was 1/60 and the lowest was 1/15. As much as I firmly believe in tripods, I do not usually set one up in town, as I do not wish to create a spectacle, or impede traffic. These were shot out of the vehicle window, resting the rig on the windowsill.

Fred is of course the famous Benezette town bull that I have featured in many posts before. He is a favorite of many Pennsylvania elk watchers and many travel to the area to check on "Freddie".

Fred: 1/15 f2.8

Sometimes it works well to shoot the animal as one finds it, but trying different angles may result in being able to isolate it against a pleasing backdrop. (I am not too fond of the position of the elk in the shot below, but I do like the rustic building as a background)

Fred: 1/15 f2.8

Sometimes the animals are positioned so that one may take a photograph that looks as though it were taken in the wilderness. There were buildings on both sides and objects in front of the animal below, but I was able to get a natural looking portrait by zooming in to 185mm.

Unknown Bull In Town: 1/60 f3.2

Photographers should remember to respect private property and not walk in lawns, or block traffic.


Leedra said...

I noticed the unknown bull did not have a collar, which also adds to the natural look of the photograph. I so very much enjoyed this post. Wish I had more opportunity to photograph elk.

NatureStop said...

Great captures.Like the rustic background in the second shot!

Anonymous said...

Excellent photography, Willard.

Sara G said...

Awesome photo's Willard!
I love them all.
I would love to photograph some Elk too!!

Sara G said...

oh yeah...I just love the reflection in the first photo!!

Shellmo said...

beautiful photography and great advice!!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful photos. I have only seen Fred in May and October, so your photos are the first time I've seen him without his coat, and his antlers at that stage. He looks so different without his coat!! Thanks for sharing.
The rustic building looks very familiar to me. We've spent a lot of time on that road, since Fred's house is right across the street :)
Looks like his antlers will be huge again this year. I hope he continues to thrive.
The first photo is amazing. That's a capture all of us hope for.

Bradley Myers said...

Willard, I carry a camera sandbag in my truck just for those shots, gives me a nice place to rest the camers and prevents me from scratching any prtion of the door. I don't think I will make it north when you are there, it looks like it won't fit in the schedule for another week or two after that.

Gretchen said...

Beautiful photos, as always!

We were down there a couple weeks ago. I needed new photos for an article on elk watching. Of course, they were all hiding that day. I always imagine they are standing just beyond the trees, laughing at the silly woman with the HUGE camera around her neck. Couldn't go hiking to look because I had a student with who wants to be a photographer. Next time.

Anonymous said...

Looks like these guys are real hams. Excellent images, Willard. You really seem to be the elk whisperer!

fishing guy said...

Willard: I loved this series and the reflection shot is excellant.

T and S said...

That Elk in natural setting looks a award winner Willard. The reflection and the overall feel to the image is awesome.

Having said that I completely agree with you on going after those award winning moments and missing the moment...Thomas