Monday, October 9, 2017

A Mid-September Morning At The Winslow Hill Viewing Area

I have been back home for a little over a week since my annual trip to photograph and film the Pennsylvania elk rut and have finally got caught up enough to post some video and stills. A bit of morning fog is fine for elk photography, but this year it seemed most mornings were foggy and sometimes it was bad enough that filming was impossible. To make matters even more difficult, some of the evenings were so hot that the elk did not come out until almost dark.

In spite of this I was able to film several bulls, but I didn't record any exceptional action such as fights. I only saw one short fight late one evening and I was unable to exploit the opportunity as  I was carrying the 500mm F4 with the 1DXMKII and it was very dark and too far for good still photos. To top it off they went out of sight into a hollow before I could get a few frames off so even had I been carrying the video rig, there would have been no chance to record it. In light of the lack of a lot of dramatic footage,  I plan on only posting a few short video clips and still images rather than making a more lengthy video of highlights of the entire trip and we begin today with a  1 min.-30 sec clip from the first week of the trip. The events of the morning will be described in detail in the story below.



Tuesday September 19th looked promising as I drove up Winslow Hill from Benezette as it was breaking day and the fog was patchy and not nearly as thick as usual. Several elk were around the parking area at the intersection of Winslow Hill Road and Dewey Road while even more were in the food plot in front of the viewing area.  I drove on down Dewey Road and checked the area by the ponds and no bulls were there. I seldom film from the new viewing area, but considering there were not a lot of people there yet this morning and that is where the elk were, I drove back to the parking lot and prepared to go into action.

 While I was getting the camera set up I noticed a large non-typical bull crossing Dewey Road from the parking lot and heading south, while a small bull was standing just outside the rocks in front of the viewing area so as soon as the camera was ready to go I began filming from the parking lot. When he moved out of sight I moved on to the overlook and most of the elk had already left the food plot in front of it, but soon appeared on the hillside across the hollow shown in the photo below.

Distant Herd
 This photo was taken with a full frame DSLR and a 17-40mm lens at 40mm so bear in mind when looking at the video how far the elk actually are away when I filmed them.

The filming was done with a Panasonic FZ-2500 camera, which has a fixed zoom lens.  When shooting 4K video it has a zoom range of 36mm-720mm 35mm equivalent. In addition the camera has an intelligent zoom mode which will get you to an equivalent focal length of 1440mm on the long end and that setting is used a lot in this video.  This performs much better than the better known digital zoom function, which I do not use because of quality loss. For the technical minded, the camera is fitted with a cage to support the external mike and the monitor.  I don't think a cage is available that is specifically made for this camera so I modified one that was originally made for the Panasonic GH4 interchangeable lens camera.  The monitor is a SmallHD 501 5" monitor.

Panasonic FZ2500
While I was filming the action on the hillside the non-typical bull came back and crossed the meadow in front of the viewing area and paused before going down the hill toward the elk on the hillside..  This was a good opportunity for still photos so I changed from the 17-40mm to the 100-400mm on the 1DXMII and got several shots of him before he went out of sight.

Non-typical Bull Pauses To Bugle
I didn't see him again until after the other elk went in the woods and then he appeared on the far  distant hillside. The video clip closes with him  walking along the lower edge of the second row of trees that runs from left to right in the photo.

After The Action At The Winslow Hill Viewing Area
After this the action died down for the morning and did not see bulls again until almost 7:00 that evening.

I hope you enjoyed the post.  If all goes as planned I will have a few more photos and short video clips to post in the near future.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.

6 comments:

Paul said...

Willard... As usual, great photographs and well written article.

Paul said...

Willard... As usual, great photographs and well written article.

Ruth Hiebert said...

Great photo and video work.

Woody Meristem said...

That Panasonic is a real workhorse. Excellent video and good stills as usual Willard.

Linda Gross said...

Great photos and video. I hope one day for the opportunity to hear elk bugle in person.

Willard said...

Thanks to all for the comments, they are much appreciated.