Wednesday, October 16, 2013

October Brings Good Variety of Wildlife Encounters

I returned home from my annual two week trip to Pennsylvania Elk Country to record the elk rut  after the morning photo shoot on Friday September 27th.  According to reliable sources  the rut continued full-bore for  awhile after that, but has now tapered off quite a bit.  Since returning home I have been working with the local wildlife each day, but things have been slow.  With that being said, I have captured a few usable images over a period of time.

I see raccoons occasionally, but usually it is not under the most photogenic conditions. I was set up near an old barn one morning and kept hearing a "chirring" noise so I slowly turned around to see two young raccoons peering at me from a hole in the side of the barn.  I had the 300mm f2.8 attached to the 5D MK III and it was the right combination for the encounter as the light was still very poor and the combination of fast lens and good high ISO capability contributed to a successful capture.

Young Raccoons: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 300mm f 2.8 IS L-ISO 3200 1/160 sec. f 2.8
On another occassion I captured a fox squirrel as me passed by my stand.  When I was young it was very rare to see these large squirrels, but although not as common as the gray squirrel I do see them frequently.

Fox Squirrel: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 500mm f 4.0 IS L-ISO 1000 1/250 sec. f 4.5
It is always a thrill to see Eastern Wild Turkey Gobblers.  These are extremely shy birds that are usually seen only at a distance. I will digress for a moment to say that  I recently got a 600mm F 4.0 L IS lens of the same version as my 500mm and 300mm.  All of these have now been replaced with a II version that is lighter, but the price of a new 600mm is beyond my budget so I settled for a used one that is in excellent condition with no signs of wear.  This was an ideal lens to use to capture a group of mature gobblers when I was fortunate enough to spot them at a distance in the woods.

Distant Gobblers: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 600mm f 4.0 IS L-ISO 1000 1/200 sec. f 4.5
The lens also worked quite well when I caught a mature gobbler running across a meadow one evening.  In this case I used a high ISO so that I could use a high shutter speed in hopes of stopping the action.

Running Gobbler: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 600mm f 4.0 IS L-ISO 1600 1/1000 sec. f 4.5
The lens also worked well to capture a distant whitetail buck late one evening.  This was another situation ideally suited for the low-light capability of the 5D MK III.  Even with using the 600mm the image is substantially cropped to get the composition that I desired.

Late Evening Whitetail: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 600mm f 4.0 IS L-ISO 3200 1/180 sec. f 4.0
This has been an unusual fall for me as I have seen very few rack bucks since coming back from elk country.  Most of the bucks seen so far are the spikes and three points that are still traveling with their family groups.  Ordinarily I have photographed several rack bucks by this time, but with the local photography not being as good as expected and the buck photography being ruined in Shenandoah National Park because of the"CWD" study, which has caused most of the mature bucks to be collared, and the government shutdown which has closed the park to all for the time being, there has been no chance for any outstanding encounters.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.