Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 In Retrospect-Part 1

Mature Bull Eating Apples

2012 was a challenging and rewarding year.  This marked my 38th year of photographing wildlife,my 21st year of video filming, and the fifth year of publishing the Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer blog

I was especially pleased to win first place in the Wilderness category of the Pennsylvania Magazine 2012 Photo Contest.  One is only notified if they place or win in the competition--they are not told the official reason why. I do have a good idea why this photograph was selected, however, and will pass those ideas along in hopes of helping other photographers.

First some technical information:  The photo was taken along Winslow Hill Road at 6:06 in the morning of July 14, 201. The lens used was a Canon 300mm f2.8 lens mounted on a Gitzo tripod with Wimberley Head.  The Camera was a Canon 7D, with ISO set at 400.  Exposure was 1/125 sec. f2.8, with the camera being set in manual mode. Evaluative metering mode was used with the reading being taken from the brightest part of the grass beside the elk.  I captured numerous poses that morning, some of which were portraits of the animal in the traditional alert pose, but most of my efforts were focused on capturing him getting apples from the tree.  In many cases he used the tips of his antlers to dislodge them and then ate them once they were on the ground. The photo above yielded the most pleasing composition as he attempted to reach an apple by stretching for it.

This reminds me of a piece of advice that PGC photographer/videographer Hal Korber shared many years ago.  He emphasized that one should try to capture wildlife doing something.  A certain amount of photographs of animals grazing, etc. are fine, but it is the ones that capture the animal doing something dramatic or unusual that are most likely to be successful.

In summary, I think this photograph succeeded because it captures an impressive animal in a beautiful natural setting,  the photo is technically acceptable, and most of all it captures the bull doing something unusual in an attractive way.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.