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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
It’s in the books. The 7th Pennsylvania Elk Photography Experience just wrapped up yesterday. Wow! We saw more bulls on this trip than any I can remember in the recent past. We watched bull after bull, heard their blustering bugles, and were astounded by how many were within camera range. This was one outstanding experience!
One of the many highlights was on Wednesday night when we were literally in the middle of six bulls and a harem of cows. This alone could be thrilling, but add to it the location was on a river full of water and you can begin to see why this experience was so thrilling! We watched patiently for the first bull to cross over the water with splashes of water at its feet, but eventually we saw six crossings. This all provided an astounding opportunity to capture some amazing wildlife photographs.
If you want to photograph the Pennsylvania Elk, you really should consider signing up for next year’s PA Elk Photo Experience. You can find more info here. We are also seriously considering another winter trip. This is a quieter experience without the hoards of elk viewers we are accustomed to seeing in the fall rut. The elk can be a little more difficult to find in the winter, but once we do they make for stunning subjects in front of the wonderland of snow!
Here is a gallery of my best captures this week.
How I Photograph the Pennsylvania Elk is a book I wrote to share my methods of how I photograph the beautiful Pennsylvania Elk. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the subject; I just wanted to share with others what works for me. I am blessed to have incredible mentors who shared with me and now I am sharing my photography passion in return.
Over the past 22 years I have spent time walking through the hills of Elk County near Benezette, PA. I own some property up on Winslow Hill and thoroughly enjoy every minute I get to spend up there! My photo passion has increased greatly over the last four years and some of my photographs appeared in a few newspapers and the Pennsylvania Game News. I also have postcards, matted prints, photo buttons, and printed copies of my book available for sale at the Elk Country Visitor Center.
Wildlife photography is like nothing else in the world to me and I can’t wait to be out in nature trying to capture the beauty of God’s incredible creation! In this book I share some of my favorite methods of finding the elk. Then I share some techniques to make quality photographs. I also go through the seasons of the elk and talk about how to brave the elements when photographing them. Photo equipment is mentioned, too. My favorite chapter is “Don’t Just Shoot the Bull,” and encourages the photographer to aim the camera toward the cows, calves, and spikes, too!
The new eBook version can be uploaded to an iPad, and iPhone, or your computer.
Check it out here: How I Photograph the Pennsylvania Elk