Friday, September 14, 2012

Running Wild In Pennsylvania Elk Country

Magnificent Pennsylvania Bull: From the opening scenes of "Running Wild in Pennsylvania Elk Country"
 It has been a difficult past few weeks, trying to bring the post-production process to a close on a new film about Pennsylvania Elk.  In the four years that has passed  since I released  "The Truth About Pennsylvania's Elk Herd", I have spent countless hours afield in pursuit of elk.  It has truly been a pleasure to document these magnificent animals through the seasons of the year.

I had originally intended to title the film "Pennsylvania Elk Country", but after input from others it was decided to go with, "Running Wild In Pennsylvania Elk Country".  I decided to include a lot of other wildlife in the film that one can expect to see "running wild" in elk country.  I will say up front that most of this other wildlife was not filmed in the Pennsylvania northwoods, as I spend a relatively limited amount of time there and of course concentrate on the elk when I am there.  With that being said it is wildlife that one can reasonably expect to see in the elk range.  The film is 2 Hrs. long, which many will say is too lengthy, but it should be looked at as a modular film.  One can easily break viewing up over multiple evenings.  There are not nearly as many chapter breaks as in "The Truth About", but it is broken up between the four seasons of the year, with some further division in cases, which makes for easy viewing in segments.

Sadly I have not successfully filmed any sustained bull fights since the fight between Bull 36 and The Test Hill Bull in 2001, but I did film a lot of brief encounters.   One of the most exciting was on October 1, 2010, which is included in the section on fighting in "Running Wild"

I arrived at a meadow before dawn to a spine chilling serenade as several bulls were after a large herd of cows. Several mature bulls were in the area as well as a large number of young satellite bulls that were hanging around the edges of the harem.  I positioned the XL-H1, which has an excellent shotgun microphone and recorded several minutes of the bugling in the pre-dawn darkness.  It was frustrating, as in time one could see the dim shapes of the animals.  A lot of exciting action was going on, but it could not be recorded.

This was my first year with the Canon 7D and before I had a 300mm f2.8 lens, so at that point my best choices were the 70-200mm f2.8 or the 300mm F4, but the 70-200mm did not give satisfactory image size at that distance, so I used the 300mm F4.  The video was shot at 1/30 sec. F4.  IS) 2,000.  The amazing thing is I could not have recorded this a year earlier as the XL-H1 simply would not work acceptably in that light level.  The most exciting part of the action was over by the time it was bright enough for it.  To me the amazing thing is that this clip would have been a piece of cake for the Canon 5D MKIII as one can get extremely good video quality at esoteric ISO settings such as 6,400 and 12,800.

I hope you enjoy the clip and look for more information soon.  Hopefully the film will be available at Benezette Store by the end of the weekend.  I will try to post later today or tomorrow with an update on the situation.

Originally posted by Willard C. Hill at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer.

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