Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Late October Whitetails

Yesterday my brother Coy of Country Captures and I traveled to Shenandoah National Park for a morning of wildlife photography, with our primary objective being to photograph whitetail bucks, although we welcomed any photographic opportunity that might present itself.

It was cold and clear atop the mountain with a brutal wind and with these conditions it seemed likely that the whitetail rut was booming.  We saw a few medium-size bucks in the meadow and laid out a plan to photograph the most likely subjects.  Surprisingly the bucks had little to no interest in the does and spent most of the time feeding, but we were lucky enough to capture some outstanding interaction between two of the bucks.  I concentrated on taking video as usual and today the tool of choice was the Rebel T3i with the 70-200mm F 2.8 L.  The best of the action was captured on video, but I did pause at one point and take a few still frames.  For better photos of this encounter visit Coy at Country Captures.

Whitetail Bucks Interact
It is also possible to capture stills from the video recording in an editing program after the fact, but since HD video has only 2 mega-pixels of resolution the photos suffer in comparison to ones taken in still mode where the entire resolution of the sensor is utilized.  That being said, photos captured in this way still work reasonably well for publishing on the internet, and other uses where one doesn't need a large size, razor sharp image.

Still Capture From T3i Video
 All the while I was carrying the Canon 7D with 300mm F2.8 over my shoulder and at one point switched cameras and took several frames with this rig, but by this time the exciting interaction was over.

Whitetail Buck Browses At Shenandoah National Park

The bucks did not linger long in the meadow and by late morning we were headed back toward Thornton Gap and home.  On the way we encountered the largest buck of the trip.  We first saw him feeding by the roadside, but he soon crossed into the woods, which gave an excellent background The late morning light was harsh making for difficult photographic conditions..  This buck was interested in the does, and performed some classic rutting activity by lowering his head and chasing them and then pausing to perform the lip-curl.

Whitetail Buck Performs Lip-Curl
We were back in Pennsylvania by mid-afternoon and that evening I encountered the largest Pennsylvania buck of the autumn to date.  While not exceptional, this is a very decent buck for our area.  Since the distance was 150 yards or more, I was using the T3i with the 100-400mm lens with the 3X crop factor engaged to record the animal to video.  The following photograph is a still capture from that video.

Pennsylvania Eight-Point
This buck was actively looking for a receptive doe, but none were to be found and he eventually moved on, bringing a fitting conclusion to an excellent day afield.

Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.


V.L. Locey said...

Willard, wow, those are incredible images! I`ll have to show them to my husband when he gets home from work today.

Ruth Hiebert said...

Fantastic images.

Unknown said...

Nice photos and I love reading the recaps of your trips. Joan and I were going to be in SNP for next three days-but other matters have kept us here in teh shop.

Good Job..

Kekiinani said...

Oh shucks. lost my comment. Maybe it will show up later.. My favorite is the one where he is peeking over the red brush!! along with the lip curl. All are awesome but those are my favorite. Aloha, Renee :)

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Tom Ham said...

very nice indeed!