Photographing An Elk And More
Hmmm, about twelve years ago when we moved from Illinois to the west I was excited to be so close to some of the greatest national parks in the world. I figured all I had to do is show up early in the morning in Yellowstone, Grand Teton or Rocky Mountain National Park and I would experience a smorgasbord of animals doing all sorts of wonderful things. Heck, there would be bison running, herds of bison forging rivers. Bears would snarl, wolves would howl and run. Moose would be drinking from a river, and elk prancing about. Eagles would be soaring high and of course antelope would roam. I could not wait to witness animals chasing each other. So on and so on.
Well, on very rare occasions I did experience some fantastic action scenes. But mostly, no matter what time of the day it was, I watched elk slumber or eat grass. Most of the time when watching a herd of elk they seemed to want to show their butts to me. Or they just laid down and did nothing. When it came to bears on occasion I got some pretty good closeups which were nice photographs but, to be completely honest, nothing that one would say “hey that is an outstanding nature photo.”
Probably my best bear action photo was a brown bear sitting on a huckleberry shrub eating the fruit. How that bear maintained its balance on those flimsy branches is beyond me.
Over the course of time I have gotten some nice pics of antelope roaming or running. Note to readers: If your thing is to take photos of pronghorns (antelope) Wyoming is the place you want to be. In Wyoming the antelope are everywhere.
When it comes to elk photos one of my favorites is this photo of a herd of elk crossing the road.
I kind of consider the “elk crossing the road” photo to be a documentary photo of life near a national park in the west.
Of course I have a lot of photos of elk standing and posing for me.
At this time I think you should understand that when I moved west I wanted to dedicate myself to being one of the best wildlife photographers in the west. Then reality set in. To accomplish that goal I would have to spend days at a time away from home and family. I would have to go into the back country maybe for weeks at a time. I would have to return over and over to the same location realizing it might take months, if not years, to get those special photographs that would awe the photographic world.
To become a successful wildlife photographer I would have to shirk my family responsibilities. I neither had the desire or lack of conscience to do that. So my photography slowly started to evolve into landscape photography.
Still, I never lost my desire to be a wildlife photographer. I understood that it would take tremendous luck to get those wonderful capture that we all visualize when we think of wildlife photography. I could not rely on luck. Instead, I had to figure out how do I take an ordinary wildlife scene and make it different? Yep, make the ordinary in nature seem interesting.
To accomplish this I started using what I had learned from other photographic disciplines and applying them to wildlife photography.
In street photography and portrait photography shooting your subject in black and white brings out its emotion.
Again street photography: Look for a normal scene in an odd situation.
Another rule of street photography: Hey stupid it does not matter what the camera is, be ready to be a photographer at all times.
The previous two photos were taken from my car parked on the side of the road with a small old Nikon V1. If I had to get out my bigger camera and lens most likely I would have missed the shot.
In portrait photography start close and work outward. Well, this is a crop of the other photo. With thirty-six megapixels you can do that.
These next two photos I ignored the standard elk photo and concentrated on the face. While taking closeups of the elks face I moved around so I would get different perspectives of the elk.
Portrait and street photography: It is the expression in the face that makes the image.
Sports photography: Remember the horse bet. When photography was in its infancy two men made a bet on when a horse ran if all four legs left the ground at the same time.
Streetscapes and landscape photography: Lines.
Ok, I am never going to be a famous wildlife photographer. Nevertheless, I am still learning and most important of all I am enjoying what is around me and not fretting over what I wish I could photograph.
Hope you enjoyed my little growths in photographing the normal wildlife in our national parks. It is a work in progress. All photos, with the exception of the antelope photo, were captured in either Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park or Rocky Mountain National Park.
The antelope photo was taken about twenty miles southeast of Yellowstone National Park. Like I said, antelope are everywhere in Wyoming. – CLG