Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Summer In Pennsylvania Elk Country

Mid-summer with its' heat and humidity.  Wildlife spends most of the daylight areas in the woodlands to avoid the brutal rays of the sun, but  the dedicated wildlife photographer, who is out at the crack of dawn, and stays out in the evening until the last glimmer of light is gone, is often rewarded with photographs and memories to treasure for a life time.  It can be physically challenging to walk long distances in the heat, but in spite of this being afield in search of the bachelor groups of whitetail bucks and bull elk is one of my favorite things to do.  It all seems worthwhile when one finally gets the photographic encounter that they are hoping for, but even those that are less than ideal can still bring a lot of enjoyment.

Foggy Morning Bull: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 500mm F4 L IS -ISO 640 1/640 sec. f5.0
Many mornings are too foggy for the best photographs in elk country, although a certain amount of fog can lend a mysterious, wild, atmosphere.  In this case most of Winslow Hill was too foggy for photography, but a  portion near the Dent's Run Viewing Area was clear enough to get decent photos.  Elk do seem to stay out longer on foggy mornings and this bull was still feeding by the roadside at 6:47 a.m.  At one point he paused to browse in a fog free area.

Browsing: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 500mm F4 L IS -ISO 400 1/200 sec. f 4.5
 Many times bulls can be found by the roadside on Winslow Hill, but to me it is more rewarding to be deep in the back country on a late summers evening, moving from meadow to meadow or sometimes remaining on watch at a particularly promising spot.  It all seems worthwhile when the bulls or bucks put in an appearance.  Such was the case when a bachelor group came into the meadow I was watching at well after 8:30 and it was nearly 9:00 until they were in a spot that I could photograph them.

Bachelor Group: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 300mm F2.8 L IS -ISO 3200 1/80 sec. f3.2
Ten minutes later and the largest bull was much closer, but by that time light levels had plummeted and I used ISO 12,800 to deal with the situation. Just a few years ago, this shot would have been impossible, but thanks to improved high ISO performance and the noise reduction tools in Photoshop wildlife can be photographed much earlier in the morning and later in the evening.

6x6 At Dusk: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 300mm F2.8 L IS -ISO 12,800 1/50 sec. f 2.8
Now the fun was over and it was a long walk back to the vehicle through the darkness, yet time passed quickly as I relived the events of the evening and thought of other enjoyable encounters in years gone by.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.


PaWingers said...

Looks like some good bulls in our future. Nice shots Willard, you were definitely rewarded for your efforts. Thanks for sharing!

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Beautiful shots. I can sense your enjoyment in getting these pictures. Thanks for sharing them.

Linda Gross said...

Very nice shots! Your patience was rewarded.

Are you able to take an ATV out to the area(s) where you photograph? Is it possible to ride out there, sit still in one spot, get your shots at that spot, and then use the ATV to return to your vehicle?

Willard said...

Hi Linda,

I put a comment on Benezette Elk Camera Club about where the one bull was, but they don't allow ATV use on State Game Lands where the others were. I have seen the bulls along the road two mornings out of two. It was threatening rain this pm so I didn't walk back in and just checked the hill out. I didn't see the bulls this pm, but did see a lot of cows and calves at the Gilbert.

Marci Geise said...

Great pictures, Willard. Glad you had a successful trip!

Lindsjö taxar said...

Wow, grat Pictures. Huge antlers they have.....thanks for sharing

Paul said...

Great photos and very informative article...