Bulls in Late Fall

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!


Anytime we are outdoors on a photo shoot the weather can change. At the very least, we need to be prepared for this change by being sure to have extra clothing. I like to say, “prepare for the worst and hope for the best!”

I actually enjoy the weather changes we experience in the outdoors. I used to sit with my dad on our front porch watching the lightning hit the power line towers in the field across from our house. I guess my fascination with weather changes does come from my dad.

The other great thing about these weather changes is they make great photographic subjects!

Most photographers like good weather, especially when we are out in the elements. We also know, however, how a cloudy day can create better lighting situations on a mid-day scene. One good rule of thumb for wildlife and nature photographers is to stay out when the weather changes. Caution is certainly to be advised in extreme weather, but when the clouds do come they can create some interesting photographs.

The next time you are out and the weather begins to change, consider sticking with it to capture the weather changes with your camera.

Be Weather Resilient

Tonight it is raining here where I live and I was hoping to get out with my camera tomorrow. After all, the mild temperatures earlier today certainly enticed me to think about engaging in wildlife photography. But what about the rain?

Well, these three photographs in this blog entry were all taken in foul weather, or should that be fowl weather? You know what I mean, weather suited more for a duck than a human! Fog, rain, and cold drive many photographers back inside where they can avoid the elements. Warning: Don’t do this! Inclement weather can produce some amazing and beautiful photographs!

Yes, the weather can be a pain sometimes, but if you stick it out, chances are quite good that you can capture a unique photograph. The next time the weather threatens your photo outing, stick it out. Brave the elements and let the creative juices flow. You can protect your camera and lens in a number of ways. The least expensive way, and one that I’ve used on numerous occasions, is to simply use a plastic grocery bag over your gear.

Don’t let the weather dictate your photography. By being willing to brave the elements you will capture more photographs and quite possibly create an incredible and even outstanding photo while others are relaxing in the warmth of their home or cabin. Be brave. Be courageous. Be weather resilient!


Stay Out in the Rain

The last week of September in elk country was rainy. In fact, it rained every day I was there!

A photographer has to decide what to do when it rains. Should we wait it out, keeping our equipment dry, and wait for the weather to break? Or, should we tough it out and go out in the rain anyway? Will our equipment get ruined in the rain? Can we withstand the discomfort of the rain long enough to capture any usable photographs? What do you do when it rains?

I love the outdoors and have a lot of experience weathering the storms. I spent a lot of time hiking, backpacking, and rock climbing over the years. I’ve even dabbled in mountaineering on two 17,000+ feet mountains. Changing weather is part of the experience in nature and I’ve learned that we can endure even some extreme weather if we are well-prepared, have the right equipment, and allow our minds to catch up with our spirits! I had a football coach tell us that our bodies will do far more than our minds will allow. I believe this is true. Some of the problems in society today are due to us listening too much to our minds and all the negative thoughts instead of just following our more daring spirits and toughing it out!

So two weeks ago I was faced with a dilemma: photograph in the rain or stay inside to hope and ¬†wait for better conditions. I actually did a little of both over the week, but I am so glad I also ventured out into the rainstorms. I even got caught in a downpour on a hike when I was two miles from my cabin. I didn’t mind though because I had packed my rain jacket and a plastic bag to protect my camera. A little rain wasn’t going to melt me, so why sit inside all day? Besides, I would never have captured some of the photographs had I stayed inside hoping for better conditions!

This photograph of a 6×6 bull was taken in less than ideal weather conditions. The sun was not shining, the fog was moving in an out, and the rain was lightly falling. But I like this photograph. Somehow the big bull appears to stand out from the background and the viewer can see the wet fur, which seems to add to the aura of this photo.

Lesson learned! The next time it rains, instead of complaining, I will take my camera out anyway. Besides, my camera and my body are much tougher than my mind sometimes thinks!