Friday September 29th was the last day of my 2000 trip to photograph the elk rut. I like to get an early start for home so I decided to drive up Winslow Hill to check the viewing areas and the roadside meadows for a few hours before leaving. Billie Cromwell, who shot a lot of the rut footage for the Game Commission's elk video, "Pennsylvania Elk: Reclaiming The Alleghenies" rode along that morning. I can't recall everything we saw, but the highlight was when we found two bulls chasing cows in an overgrown meadow near the Devil's Elbow area.
was before the days of digital and meta-data files that records camera
settings so one had to rely on memory or notes to recall what equipment
was used. I was a poor record keeper, but if my memory serves me right
the above photo was taken with a Canon Rebel X with Kodak ISO 800 print
film. The lens would have been either a 75-300 EF IS, or a Canon 35-350
began photographing in 1974 with a Minolta SRT 101 and 50mm 1.7 lens
and eventually bought several low to mid-range telephoto lenses. I used
these lenses with a variety of Minolta bodies until late 1990 when I
switched almost exclusively to video. I got the Canon L2 camcorder in
1997, which accepted Canon mount 35mm lenses by use of an adapter and
bought a Canon 75-300mm EF IS lens for long range work. This move
eventually led me back into still photography. The Minolta equipment
was old, battered, and outdated. Shooting stills with it meant that one
had to carry lenses and cameras for two different mounts, so it was a
no brainer to get a Canon body for use on the 75-300mm. Since my
primary focus was video I bought an entry level Rebel X with kit lens
for $180.00 at Walmart. This was $70.00 less than I paid for the SRT
101 and kit lens back in 1974. The Rebel felt chintzy compared to the
Minolta SRT cameras, but it was much more reliable as a lot of the
moving parts had been replaced with electronics as technology advanced.
As is so often the case with me, I soon decided that I needed another
camera body so that I could shoot both slow and fast color film, so in
August of 200 I bought a Canon Elan II body, which I carried loaded with
Kodak ISO 200 print film, while the Rebel was loaded with Kodak ISO 800
Light levels were low when this encounter
began so I photographed the larger bull with ISO 800 film and then
switched to the Elan II and ISO 200 to photograph the smaller bull.
bulls were 7x8s if I am counting the points correctly. The photos were
scanned to digital files with a Canoscan 2710 several years ago and
were reworked in Adobe camera raw with final tweaking in Photoshop CC
before posting. I was searching through my files for photos of bull 36,
better known as "Fred" or "Dogrope", when I came upon these photos and
felt moved to share them. One must realize that film ruled at the time.
I was dreaming of better lenses and camera bodies, but the though never
crossed my mind that film would be replaced with digital in a few
Those that are relatively new to
Pennsylvania elk photography may be amazed to find that high end
professional lenses were rarely seen on Winslow Hill until after digital
replaced film. Ronald "Buckwheat" Saffer had his Canon 300mm f2.8 L
lens, a gentleman was there each year with a Nikon 500mm and I saw well
known outdoor writer Bob Steiner on a few occasions with his 500mm
Nikon, but mostly one saw point and shoot cameras and entry level 35mm
SLR cameras with low to mid-range lenses. Back in those days you could
draw attention shooting a 100-400mm L lens with people walking up and
saying, "that's some lens you have there". Now all of the big primes
such as 300mm, 500mm, and 600mm are commonly seen and I think it is
because of digital.
In the days of film a serious
shooter spent a lot of their funds available for photography on film and
processing. The ability to shoot massive numbers of shots and delete
unwanted ones in the digital age made it possible for many more people
to become better photographers and to afford to buy better equipment.
Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.