Archive for the Patience Category

Be Patient… Let Them Come to You

Posted in 200-400mm, Getting Closer, Patience, Pennsylvania Elk, Pennsylvania Elk Photography Experience, Wildlife Photography, Winslow Hill with tags , , , , , , on October 2, 2013 by bobshank

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Much of the time spent in wildlife photography is pursuing the animals we want to photograph. I often tease that, “Yeah, I was out on the mountain chasing the elk around with my camera.” I do not mean this literally, of course. Chasing an animal is just not a very good idea if you intend to photograph it!

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So how can you actually get closer to the wild animals? Be patient and let them come to you. That’s right, be patient. In our fast-paced society today, this is not an easy thing for many people to do. Being patient means taking the time to stay in one place for an extended period of time.

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Last week, while shooting the Pennsylvania Elk, we were on a hill with a small harem of cows and a couple of bulls within about 100 yards of us. We had our cameras on our tripods and were capturing some photographs at that distance. We patiently remained in that one location for well over an hour. Amazingly, the elk ever so slowly began to feed in our direction. They didn’t close the distance by leaps and bounds; rather, they slowly mossyed in our direction. This took time and we remained patient.

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Eventually, the bull moved to within a few yards of our location. You can see in these photos that I now had too much lens with my 200-400mm. It was an amazing experience!

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The key was staying still and patient, while letting the animals slowly feed in our direction instead of chasing them by trying to get closer. I firmly believe that most photographers will get better photographs if they practiced more patience with their subjects. The next time you are shooting wildlife, practice more patience. Remain in one location and let them work toward you. It is an amazing experience when this happens and you will get some incredible photos, too!

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Bulls in Late Fall

Posted in Fall, Patience, Pennsylvania Elk, Weather, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , on November 9, 2012 by bobshank

The colors are not nearly as brilliant as they were a month ago, but capturing a bull in the late fall in its natural setting is still worth capturing. Some photographers limit their outings to the fall rut when the elk activity is at its peak. This is understandable, but there is not a bad time throughout the entire year that is not worth the effort to be out photographing the Pennsylvania elk.

This is true for any photo subject. The best way to get better is to be out photographing your favorite subjects as much as possible. Cal Ripken, Jr. says this: “Perfect practice makes practice.” His theory reflects that it is not just practice, but perfect practice that helps us get better. This is true in baseball as well as in wildlife photography. One problem is that we can tend to crawl up beside a warm, comfy wood stove as the days get shorter. This is a mistake for any serious photographer, especially wildlife photographers. The sun sets differently in the late fall and winter sky than it does in the summer, which creates a different sunset to capture with our cameras. As a matter of fact, I was standing out in a misty rain with my long johns on during this particular photo shoot.

The late fall sees the elk habits change, too. Sure, a few bulls are still anxious to breed a cow, but now things are slowing down and the elk are thinking more about putting on weight to endure the upcoming winter. They gain weight by eating, so the photographer has to be patient, waiting for an elk to look up from eating. Patience is a virtue and this is no more true anywhere than with wildlife photography!

So, put on some warm clothes, grab your camera gear, and venture out into the wild this late fall season. When you come back into the warmth of your home or cabin, you will be glad you braved the elements to photograph wildlife. After all, to be a good wildlife photographer we have to spend more time in their habitat throughout the whole year!

Bull Getting into a Frenzy!

Posted in Bugle, Bugling Bull, Bull, Patience, Pennsylvania Elk, Pennsylvania Elk Photography Experience, Pennsylvania Game Commission, Rut, State Game Lands, Wildlife Photography, Winslow Hill with tags , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2012 by bobshank

The fall rut in Pennsylvania is filled with amazing action and mysterious sounds. Bull elk work extremely hard to make their presence known and remind other competing bulls that it will not be easy to dislodge the king of the hill! Just spend one evening out on the mountain during the fall rut and you will receive far more entertainment than Hollywood could ever offer. There is no place like the mountains, especially during the fall months.

This particular bull was the current king of a section many refer to The Saddle on Winslow Hill. This recently reclaimed tract of State Game Lands 311 is a favorite of elk viewers who are accustomed to seeing bulls like this one. I came across him while he was lying down and resting. Bulls expend a tremendous amount of energy during the rut, so even brief rests are essential. I need to practice a great deal of patience as this bull was taking a rather long rest. Patience is always key in wildlife photography.

Eventually, after what seemed like forever, he stood up. Now this might seem like a rather uneventful maneuver to the uninformed, but to a knowledgeable elk viewer, the act of a bull standing up is anything but uneventful. Warning: this might get a little PG-rated since we are talking about the rut, aka the breeding season, aka elk sex! Geez, I didn’t just say that; did I?

This first standing up image shows clearly what all careful elk viewers see when a bull elk begins getting into a frenzy to show dominance and attract cows. The bull will begin to scratch the ground with his antlers and he will also urinate on himself to display his dominance and attractiveness to any cow who is interested. I find this an interesting dating procedure to say the least!

Because this bull was getting into a frenzy in a recently reclaimed field, the grass was green and tall, as you can clearly see in this image.

A frenzied bull almost always bugles, too. This is a mysterious and interesting sound that elk viewers long to hear. The bugle sounds a warning to any bulls who might be considering a challenge. It also alerts cows to the bull’s presence and location, which is important as a bull constant tries to keep his herd of cows in check. Again, this is a very tiring and demanding process that goes on day and night for many days!

The bull will also stretch his hind legs to get the kinks out from lying down so long. It’s sort of like when we get up out of our recliner and need to stretch to get moving again. I always find it entertaining to watch and observe the many different facets of elk behavior. It never gets old for me and I keep learning more and more about these incredible mammals!

As the frenzy is dying down and coming to a close, at least temporarily, the bull will deliver another mighty bugle before moving on to the next task in the rutting behavior.

It will happen again, so be ready! Watching the bulls at this time of year is something I enjoy tremendously. I cannot imagine not spending some time in the mountains to observe and photograph this fascinating behavior. It truly is worth more than a thousand words! If you never observed the rutting behavior in the fall, you owe it to yourself to travel to Elk County, Pennsylvania from mid-September to mid-October. It can yield the sights and sounds of a lifetime!

The Whites of Their Eyes

Posted in Animal Behavior, Bull, Cow, Patience, Pennsylvania Elk, Wildlife, Winslow Hill with tags , , , , , on March 7, 2012 by bobshank

Animal behavior shows a lot about their comfort level. If they are feeding, for example, this shows they are relaxed and not too worried about any impending danger. But most animals reveal specific behavioral signs that indicate when they are not happy. This bull is showing the whites of his eyes–a sign that he is not overly satisfied with me at the moment. I might be in his way to greener pastures, I might be too close to him, or I might be viewed as just in his way for whatever reason. The whites in his eyes show that is not relaxed.

Similarly, this cow is busy eating some grass, but her eyes show that is worried about something. At the very least, she is keeping a keen eye out for any sign of trouble.

We can photograph our subjects better when we learn more about them. It doesn’t matter what subject we are photographing either. When we learn more about our subject we will be able to get better photographs. So the next time you are out with your camera pay close attention to your subject. What do you see? Are there any signs that is putting your subject at ease? Or are there signs that indicate something is wrong.

Be patient, work slow, and pay attention to the animal’s behavior. It can tell us a lot!

Feeding Elk

Posted in Cow, Feeding, James Shank, Patience, Pennsylvania Elk, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , on February 24, 2012 by bobshank

What do the Pennsylvania elk feed on in the winter? This year the snowfall was minimal, so grasses are plentiful and easy to get for the elk. Here a cow has a long stem of grass in her mouth. It reminds me of those really long fries we sometimes get at McDonald’s or a long piece of spaghetti!

The cow was looking intently at the camera but she never stopped eating this long stem of grass.

Here in this photograph you can see she is definitely working that stem of grass into her mouth. I didn’t hear any slurping sounds but it was funny to watch!

Most feeding elk photos show an elk with its head down eating grass. This is certainly not the best pose for a photograph. By spending time with our subject we can capture truly amazing photographs of the behavior of these incredible and beautiful creatures. On this particular cold morning, my son, James, and I spent well over an hour photographing this small herd of elk. We were frozen by the end of this shoot–so much so that our hands were tingling and numb when we got back into the truck. Do you know that painful sensation when your extremities finally start warming up again? Ouch! That hurts! But you know,  it is all worthwhile when you capture photographs like these! I cannot wait to do it again!

Umm, umm, good!

Whitetail Fawns – What a Sight!

Posted in My son, Patience, Pennsylvania Elk, Whitetail Deer, Wildlife Photography on August 11, 2011 by bobshank

Last week while photographing the elk of Pennsylvania, my son and I also saw lots of whitetail deer. In fact, I do not remember ever in my life seeing so many fawns in two days time! We saw 18 fawns in two days. Incredible!

It never ceases to amaze me what we see in the wild. We usually do see the elk. I can’t remember a time when we were last skunked–meaning we didn’t any elk whatsoever. Sometimes when you go out to shoot some specific animal, you don’t see that specific animal but are blessed with sightings and photographic opportunities with other animals. Staying patient certainly has its benefits!

We were out to photograph the elk of PA and we did see elk again, but we also came across these whitetail deer. So I thought I would post these photos today. Whitetail deer in Pennsylvania are very difficult to photograph. I have goals to get better photos in the future, but at least I have a decent start with these incredible animals. I love spending time in the wild because you just never know what you might see and get to photograph!

 

 

Butterflies

Posted in Butterflies, Close-ups, Patience, Wildlife Photography on August 2, 2011 by bobshank

A butterfly. A beautiful butterfly. You see it floating along in all its majestic beauty. Doesn’t it look beautiful? Now, just try to photograph it!

Have you ever tried to photograph a butterfly? If you have, I’d like to know what worked for you? I was photographing osprey last week when some butterflies came along and grabbed my attention. I was waiting for the mother osprey to go out on another fishing expedition, so turning my attention elsewhere was not a problem. I thought, gee, there’s a butterfly, that should make a good photograph. Little did I realize how difficult this was going to be for me!

Butterflies are small and don’t sit still for very long. They float around from one spot to the next and focusing on them is a real challenge. I knew that chasing a butterfly is counterproductive and decided to simply stay in my position and let the butterflies come closer to me. This worked fairly well if I remained patient, but focusing still was not easy. I had many more out of focus photos than keepers. Are there any secrets or tricks to the trade when photographing butterflies?

Here are a few photos of my attempt at butterfly photography. I am not really completely happy with any of them. They are an attempt, which is a good thing, but now I have a strong desire to try this kind of wildlife photography again!