Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Morning Photo Shoot At Shenandoah National Park

It's a 150- mile drive from southcentral Pennsylvania to Big Meadows in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia so Billie Cromwell and I were headed down 522 to Winchester, Virginia at 3:00 in the morning on Monday, August 11th. From there it's a straight shot to New Market Virginia and one can chalk the miles up quickly. From New Market, one takes Rt. 211 across Massanutten Mountain to Page Valley and past the town of Luray, which is world famous for its' beautiful caverns. One ascends another mountain through Thornton Gap and may get on Skyline Drive there. At that point one is slightly over 20 miles from Big Meadows, which is the whitetail deer hot spot in the park.

Whitetail deer prefer the early morning hours, shortly before and after sunrise, and the late evenings. I always try to be there as it is breaking day, but it was disappointing on this trip and at first the trip seemed a failure. We did find a buck by the roadside at dawn, but it was too early for the best photography.

We finally found a beautiful nine-point in the woods by the side of the drive. The light levels were low in the shaded woods, so I pressed the 300mm F4 into service.

Canon 40D: 300mmF4 L 1/80 sec. f4 ISO 800

From that point the situation improved and when we got back to the meadow two bucks were feeding by the roadside. I only posted the largest today. This has been the most commonly seen buck at Big Meadows for the last three years. He evidently has learned the lesson that many do not, and that is to stay on park land during the hunting seasons as private property is quite near in many spots. No hunting is allowed in the park, but if the animals stray they may be taken. In addition there is some poaching in the park. Whatever the reason I have seen several nice bucks for a year or two and then they vanish, but it seems there are a few that are seen year after year. This one has a good start and I hope that he will be a long term survivor.

Canon 40D: 300mmF4 L 1/640 sec. f5.6 ISO 100

The blog will be on hiatus again for over a week as our daughter ASH (Amy) takes us on a trip to Yellowstone Park and The Grand Tetons. It will be a new experience for sure!

For more animal photos visit Misty Dawn at Camera Critters!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sky Watch Friday-An August Visit To The Elk Range

The early morning sun breaks through the clouds on Monday morning August 18th, and illuminates a herd of Pennsylvania Elk Grazing in a meadow by the side of Winslow Hill Road.

Canon 30-D 17-40mm at 38mm L 1/125 sec. f 8 ISO 100

This is an exciting time of year when the bulls shed their velvet and clash their antlers together in what is known as sparring. While they may spar at any time of year, it occurs more often now and is more violent in nature. Soon it will escalate into serious fights between mature herd bulls, but for now it is more like an arm wrestling contest between humans with little to no chance of serious injury.

The mating season or rut as it is known will begin in early September and grow more intense toward the middle of the month, reach a peak toward the end, and then abruptly crash. That period is the most exciting time to visit Pennsylvania's Elk Range.

These bulls were in the village of Benezette at 6:33 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

Canon 40-D: 70-200mm f2.8L 1/125 sec. f2.8 ISO 1600

The best chance of seeing elk is early morning and late evening and high ISO speeds and low shutter speeds are often required. Even though I had to use lower shutter speeds than I would have liked I did get a few relatively sharp frames.

Canon 40-D: 70-200mm f2.8L 1/125 sec. f2.8 ISO 1600

I was in Elk County from Sunday Afternoon until this morning, looking for photos and video footage such as this and finalizing some details about the film on Elk. After reviewing it with Ronald Saffer and discussing details with others I have decided it needs only minimal revision in the final segment and so will soon be completely finished.

For more Sky Watch Photos click the sky watch icon at the top of the page. To see more photographs from Elk County, Pennsylvania visit Brad Myers, an excellent photographer who recently visited Pennsylvania's Elk Range for the first time.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

It's Done-Well Almost!

As regular readers have noticed, I have not posted since August 9th, and have been doing very little commenting.

I had a deadline of sorts on the elk video of Sunday August 18th, and it became obvious that I was going to have to greatly increase the time I spent editing. (I do all of the post production work, including research and script writing) Each step of the process is extremely time consuming.

It is now in the can so as to speak, and is 2hrs-35 minutes long, which is more than I had anticipated.

It has taken thirteen years to shoot the video and one year to do the post production-although there were days that little was done.

In the last few weeks it has become a full time job and then some, but I finally was at the point at 3:30 A.M. this morning, that I was ready to burn the master DVD for the second Disc. (It is a 2 disc series)

I am sure there will be some minor tweaks after I get input from a variety of sources!

Here is a shot from the last trip to Elk County!

Canon 30-D: 300mmF4

Due to other commitments I will not be posting or commenting until at least Thursday!

I'll post more information on the video soon.