We just had our first snow of the season here in the Poconos. Eight inches or more of snow fell today as the wind whipped through the mountains creating drifts of snow and making visibility difficult. Welcome to life in the mountains! Actually I thoroughly enjoy living in the mountains. While some think us absolutely crazy for living up here, I would have it no other way. There is no place in the world like the mountains!
Lydia, James, and I are planning to head up to the mountains of Elk County this coming weekend. Our main goal is photographing the elk again. The rut will now be over so the bulls should be hanging out together in what are referred to as bachelor groups. If at least some of the snow lasts through the week, it should make for some stunning backdrops for our photographs. The thrill of shooting the elk with our cameras is always an exciting adventure for us.
The planning stages for this trip are about to begin and figuring out what to take is not always an easy procedure. A one-and-a-half day trip demands at least a reasonable amount of caution to avoid taking everything including the kitchen sink! However, the weather change and the new snow require some forethought in figuring out what to pack to make the trip comfortable. There is nothing worse than getting up early in the morning to go out for a shoot and then realize that you have not packed enough layers of clothing. That old saying about “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” comes to mind when planning on what to pack. Planning ahead and even foreseeing the events unfold in one’s mind’s eye can be invaluable!
I recently purchased the Think Tank belt system. This system includes a belt that is worn around the waist to which modular cases are attached. These hold lenses or other photographic accessories right on the photographer’s person and makes for both portability and quick lens changes. While a photographer’s backpack is good in some situations, this belt system does not result in a sweaty back and yet keeps components within easy reach. I especially like this system’s portability for hiking up mountains in search of elk. I typically keep my camera on my tripod, which I carry on my shoulder with legs extended. One never knows when a wildlife subject may appear, so being prepared is critical. Then I use the Think Tank modular system to carry my lenses and other accessories, keeping everything within easy reach. This works well for me in my wildlife endeavors and I encourage you to give it a try, too. You can find the Think Tank products at www.thinktankphoto.com
Yesterday our family spent Columbus Day at our camp on Winslow Hill in Elk County. This is a favorite spot for us and we were hoping to see some elk in the early morning and at dusk. We were rewarded by seeing 4 bulls in the morning just after 7am. The fog was just beginning to lift, which provided an eerie backdrop as we watched and photographed the bulls. A few were still bugling, indicating that the rut for this season is not quite over yet. One bull was eating berries off a tree just on the other side of a fence along the road. We were photographing him as he walked down the fencerow to an opening and then he came out on the other side of the fence to eat more berries from the other side of the tree. We concluded that elk are smart!
We spent the middle of the day doing some chores around the camp, which consisted of cutting some weeds down, clearing some brush, and cutting some tree limbs off. Then by 4pm we were out looking for elk again. We didn’t see any in a favorite field we like to frequent and for a while I thought we might get skunked because it was so hot. But then as the heat began to dissipate, the elk slowly began to appear. We photographed 3 more bulls until well after sunset. We were also able to capture some beautiful photographs of the sunset. You can see the photos here.
Recently I was just asked to help create a sports bannner for the Lehigh Valley Baseball Academy’s website. Our son, James, plays on one of the travel teams and I have been capturing the action with my camera. Steve asked me if I could create a banner to be placed at the top of their redesigned website. He wanted it to be a collage of photos. You can check it out by clicking here: http://www.lehighvalleybaseballacademy.com/index.shtml
Last Saturday Lydia, James, and I hiked to Hawk Falls in Hickory Run State Park. Our goal was to enjoy the beautiful Fall weather and do some photography around the falls. It was a great day that we enjoyed thoroughly. You can see some of our photographs here: http://www.bobshankphotography.com/Gallery%20Photos/Hawk%20Falls%20Slideshow/index.html
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 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:
If you would like to join us on an upcoming trip, please contact us. You can find more information here.