Mother and Calf Together

After watching and observing this cow and calf for quite some time, we watched as they walked off into the sunset, literally. Both had eaten a lot of grass and put up with numerous elk observers as they did. Granted these elk were grazing in the most populated area of Benezette Township, but eating in peace was just not possible. Still they ate because this is what elk need to do, especially before winter arrives and finding food becomes much more difficult.

These two elk, cow and calf, provided a beautiful sight to see. After all, who can resist the beauty of a little calf that looks so cute? Mom kept eating, checking for danger, and keeping an eye on her little one making sure she didn’t wander off on her own. For a while this was rather easy because her baby was tired and laid down on the ground to rest as I mentioned yesterday.

These two beautiful elk have had enough grazing and are off to greener pastures. Where will we next see them?20090819-157

Resting, Sleeping, or Playing Opossum?

This calf was cute. Its coat was clean and fluffy and its ears seemed out of proportion with the rest of its body.

The mother was always there to provide protection but pretty much let the calf do its own thing. After browsing through the grass, the calf must have gotten tired and decided to lay down. As it got comfortable it cleaned itself a little and then rested in this position. I snapped a few photos hoping to get a few of these cute, restful shots.

It wasn’t until later when I was viewing the photos on my computer that I wondered: is this calf resting, sleeping, or just playing opossum? I believe the question is valid because while the calf seems to be in a resting or sleeping position, its ears are spread wide and at attention! Look at those ears! They remind me of that cartoon that included Baby New Year, with ears so big they made everyone laugh. He tried to cover his ears with a hat or anything else possible, but they kept popping out, providing everyone with much laughter. Just look at those ears!

A wild animal depends on its nose, ears, and eyes for safety. Danger can come from any direction and the animals must keep alert for any harm. Those big ears are like funnels, capturing sounds from a long way away and providing antennae-like receptors. Most danger does not come without a few warning signs and these ears can detect many of these audible warnings.

Ultimately, the calf did not rest, sleep, or play opossum for too long because the mother cow wanted to move along. Nevertheless, I thought this photograph was not only amusing but also revealed some meaningful insights into one of the ways a wild animal is able to sense danger. Come to think of it, I wish my ears were bigger. People might laugh at them but they would be very helpful in the wild!


A Watchful Mother

Did you ever have the feeling that your mother may have had eyes in the back of her head? How is it that mothers always seem to know everything?

This cow elk is grazing, but she is also keeping an eye open for potential danger to her little one in the background. Her calf had her fill and is now taking a rest from the day’s activities. Mom is still eating and also watching everything around them. You can see that even as she is eating her eye is still wide open and scanning the area for any trouble, just as a watchful mother should.


Protective Mother Elk

The elk behavior is an absolute joy to watch and observe. I always feel privileged to be on the elk range with the elk. This past Thursday evening my son and I came across a mother elk and her calf. By now the calf can probably run fast enough to avoid the danger of most predators, but mothers continue their protective behavior nevertheless. I saw this calf laying in the grass. Her mother stayed close by as she ate the grass and here she is providing a protective frame with her legs with her baby in the background. I think this photograph does a decent job of telling some of the story about protective mother elk.


Elk in Distress Rescued by Pennsylvania Game Commission

Thursday morning on August 20, 2009 found this Pennsylvania bull elk in severe distress as it was caught up in a swing in the old school grounds of Benezette, PA. Brad & Shane Myers found this bull in distress and reported what they found immediately to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. They will be posting amazing photographs on their blog. Willard Hill and Tom Murphy were also there to record the elk rescue with their video cameras. I am sure that more detailed photos and video footage will be forthcoming, but I wanted to share a few of the photographs I captured during this transition from elk distress to rescue.

My son, James, and I happened onto the scene just as the Wildlife Conservation Officers were tranquilizing the bull. We could see that his antlers were hung up in two swings and he was in obvious distress. The following photographs tell the story of what we witnessed as this stressful situation was handled with professionalism and obvious expertise.

Bull with tranqualizer in hindquarter

Bull with tranqualizer in hindquarter


Bull's antlers hung up in swings


Freeing the bull from the tangle of swings


Free at last


Removing the broken antler


Checking the bull's heart rate


Willard Hill and Tom Murphy videographing the rescue


Removing the tranquilizer


Inspecting the tranquilizer


Checking the time into the rescue attempt


Administering the antidote


Caring for the patient


Beginning to wake up


First steps to recovery


Running from distress to relief


Wondering what happened


Some scars from distress, but relief at last!

How I Photograph the Pennsylvania Elk

Tonight I was privileged to give a presentation at the Pocono Photo Club. My title was “How I Photograph the Pennsylvania Elk.” It was a wonderful time for me to share how I find and photograph the elk of PA. Some people aren’t even aware that is an elk herd here in our state.

I am fortunate to have a camp in the midst of the elk range and we often have elk in our yard! I thoroughly enjoy getting out to photograph the elk in their natural habitat. My good friend, Dick McCreight, and I lead photo trips called the “Pennsylvania Elk Photography Experience.” These photo trips include meals and lodging, 3 photo workshops, and plenty of opportunities to get out and photograph the elk in all their beauty. It is a great experience; hence the name!

Tonight I shared some of my photographs of the elk and how I go about photographing the elk. It is a passion for me and I always enjoy sharing this photo passion with others. You can find out more about our PA elk photo trips here.

I want to thank the Pocono Photo Club for giving me the opportunity to share my photo passion.

Good Photo Guidelines

Many of you may have heard a variety of photography rules over the years. Do not cut the photograph in half with the horizon line. Think about the rule of thirds and place your subject at one of these intersecting lines instead of dead in the center of the photograph. Move in closer to your subject. Ask yourself, “What is the main subject in this photo and why am I making this composition? Focus on the eye.

Do any of these basic guidelines sound familiar?

Some people prefer to be rebellious, color outside the lines, and break the rules. This can and is certainly done with photography guidelines, but understanding them first is an absolute essential. Well, at least in my humble opinion. There are many ways to learn about photography and be a good photographer, but learning the basic guidelines and fundamentals will provide a solid foundation for any aspiring photographer

Do you know the photo fundamentals? Are you willing to take a workshop to learn more. I lead a photo trip with my good friend, Dick McCreight, where we provide photographers excellent opportunities to photograph the Pennsylvania Elk. Throughout the 3-day photo trip, we experience many excellent teaching moments and have opportunities to teach and learn more about photography. These photo trips are a lot of fun for us photographers to be together and learn from each other. You can find more information about these photo trips here:

Check it out and sign up for one of our upcoming photo trips. You will learn some of the basic photography fundamentals and have a great time with some other photographers!

Elk County Wildlife

We just returned from our photo excursion in Elk County. James and I enjoyed 2 days in the beautiful mountains surrounding Benezette where the Pennsylvania elk roam freely. They provide plenty of photographic opportunities, but along the way other wildlife species attract our attention.

Today, as I was searching for elk, I came upon a porcupine. These creatures get a bad rap in my opinion. This little guy was cute! He put on a little show for me and then got a little scared when I got too close. Then he climbed up a tree. It was interesting to watch him move along in what seemed like slow motion. James met me and was able to observe this little guy for a while, too. Porcupines are not nearly as large as elk but they are every bit as fascinating. You just never know what you might come across out on the mountain!

I was posted a gallery of photos taken on this photo excursion. You can check them out here. Take a look as these wildlife photos and let me know what you think of them.

Pennsylvania Elk Photography Experience

Well, another Pennsylvania Elk Photography Experience is in the books and we had a fantastic weekend! We arrived on Thursday to a cold day and over 18 inches of snow! The snowplow took care of making a drivable path to our cabin and we started the heater right away. It did take a while to get water into the camp because of the cold weather, but eventually the pipes thawed out enough to allow water to flow into the cabin. Elk were not as abundant early in the weekend as they usually are in warmer weather. We did see a few cows and a spike or two on Thursday. We also saw a number of trees that were stripped of some of their bark from the hungry elk attempting to find food in the snowy landscape. The weather began to get warmer as the weekend progressed and by Sunday it was downright warm enough to melt a lot of the snow! Elk became more abundantly seen as the warmer weather coaxed them from their hiding places. We did manage to see some nice bulls toward the end of the photo trip. These photogenic creatures offered us plenty of angles and poses to make our photographers happy. And on Sunday we had about 200 elk in the vicinity of our cabin! Cows were spread out all over the mountain and a couple of nice bulls put on quite a show for our guests. In-between shooting the elk we did see, we also found some beautiful landscapes and other subjects to photograph. One area in particular provided some frozen ice cycles and snowy scenes that had us switching lenses and trying creative techniques to capture its beauty. Our goal is always to find the elk and photograph them, but they are wild animals and can be unpredictable and difficult to locate. Fortunately, the elk range provides a variety of beautiful subjects and landscapes to provide us with chances to exercise our photographic creativity in those times when we are not seeing elk. You can look through my gallery for this photo trip and see some of the different scenes we were able to capture. The participants had a great time and we enjoyed being together, learning more about wildlife photography, and putting our photographic skills into use as we captured the elk with our cameras. I am looking forward to our Fall Photo Trip. This time of the year is my favorite for photographing the elk as they are actively in the rut. We would love to have you join us for this PA Elk Photo Experience, so check out the info here. We will feed you well and provide you with some up amazing sights of the Pennsylvania Elk in the beauty of the Fall colors. It will be a memorable experience!

Pennsylvania Elk Photography Experience

We just returned from our Elk in Rut Experience and we had a very rewarding time. The bulls were bugling and displaying their signs of dominance as they herded up their cows. We saw elk every day, and in fact, we saw elk just about every time we went out to photograph them! Talk about cooperative subjects!

We saw some elk sparing with their antlers as they were practicing for the bigger fights for dominance, we saw cows eating turnips and keeping their distance from the overly excited bulls, we saw a spike bull and a cow “boxing,” and we saw one calf born late this summer that was still nursing from its mother!

The elk and the cow are very similar in how customers engage with brands. You see, based on data from this website, we can clearly see customer engagement trends show Chrome is peaking among web browser users, somewhat how the antlers help the elk spar for dominance.

The weather couldn’t have cooperated any better. The leaves were actually changing colors throughout the week, which provided some splash of color in our composition. You can see some examples of this in my PA Elk Photo Experience Gallery slideshow.

It was fascinating to see how three different photographers could see the same subjects and yet acquire very different photographs. Each time we returned to camp, we would upload our photos onto our laptops and then begin to go through them. We learned a lot about Adobe Lightroom and I am now a big fan of this software. We learned a lot by having the same software installed on our individual laptops so we could ask questions along the way as we worked on uploading and editing our photos.

This experience was very rewarding on many levels. We saw lots of elk, we learned much about Lightroom, and we enjoyed shooting side by side and talking about composition, light, and other approaches to capturing these incredible moments with our digital cameras. We shared some basic information about the Pennsylvania elk herd. And we thoroughly enjoyed being together as photographers.

You can see more photos from the 2008 Elk in Rut Experience here:

Brian’s Photographs

Dick’s Photographs

Bob’s Photographs

If you would like to join us on an upcoming trip, please contact us. You can find more information here.


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