A Bull Fight & a Fight with Noise

Tuesday evening produced an invigorating scene for over a hundred spectators who happened to be at the Elk County Visitor Center. It was getting close to dusk and a herd of cows and at least 7 bulls were in the field to the left of the Visitor Center. The rut was in the air and the tension was thick with the anticipation of two elk battling it out for the cows. The tension turned to realization as two bulls met head-to-head. Cows quickly ran in the opposite direction as these two big boys fought it out. And fight they did! It was absolutely amazing to witness these large bulls push each other as they locked antlers. It was a fight that rivaled any other fight I ever witnessed between two comparable bulls.

The fight lasted over six minutes. Many witnesses to these elk battles often exaggerate the actual time because it does appear that time stands still during these bullish fights. But we checked the metadata in our cameras after the conflict and verified the length of this battle to be over six minutes! There was not a lot of clashing of antlers in this fight–it was more of a brutal pushing match. Other bulls were close by to witness the end result and all of us bystanders were amazed at the sheer strength of these amazing animals. It was a fight worthy of two royal bulls. In the end, one was the victor and the other walked the other way.

Photographers who shoot digitally face fights with noise especially as we increase the ISO settings in our cameras. This was necessary the night these two bulls fought because it was very close to dusk and light was fading fast. I actually shot this image at an ISO setting of 1,600 in my Nikon D300. I knew noise was going to be an issue with these images. Fortunately, the newer cameras handle noise better than the old ones ever did. I would never have thought about shooting at this ISO setting with my old Nikon D70. But the D300 handles noise much better. In addition, Lightroom 3.0 does a great job of noise reduction.

Here is one of the images I captured of the bull-fight that Tuesday night. It was shot at ISO 1,600 and edited in Lightroom 3.0. What do you think of this image? Did the newer equipment and software win the battle against noise?

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One Response to “A Bull Fight & a Fight with Noise”

  1. Bob, it was great seeing you again this year. The friends made in elk country are fantastic and I look forward to seeing them each year. You are right the camreas are getting much better with noise at high ISO, but I have noticed it depends on the subject and colors. Fog is hard on high ISO’s. I wish I captured this fight and the elk crossing the water, hint I am looking forward to seeing those.

    Take care and I hope we do not have to wait another year to meet up.

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