Monday, September 5, 2011

Photo Ideas When Elk Disappear

Visitors will find my guidance useful in locating elk most of the time, but there are no guarantees. Yesterday was a good example, on a cool, overcast day there were only a handful of elk in Boxley Valley.

Determination Pays Off
What to do? Photographers should have secondary targets in mind. Many of my best photos have been taken on days when there were no elk to be found.

A perfect example of a secondary target is the picture to the right. I remember my thought process that day. "You are a pro, and pros always get something" -- that was my conversation with myself. Seeing no elk, I did notice that the morning fog was nice and that I might get a decent landscape. I lined this picture up, and as soon as I focused, one of two preening trumpeters spread his wings in a characteristic morning stretch. I have sold this picture many times.

Cha Ching
Maybe the most dramatic example is on the left. I decided to try to get a good picture of a swan on a beaver dam at the mill pond. After getting the scene composed, a coon swam out to the damn and challenged the swan to cross. This picture surely was something given as well as made, but I would not have got it if I had quit. I rate this picture, and the 30 odd frames I shot with it, as perhaps the best wildlife photo shoot I have taken of any species. Luck for sure, but it was based on determination.

One of My Best Landscapes
A third example is a landscape (right). This one was after being skunked by elk as well. Again the inspiration was the wonderful ground fog of Boxley Valley. I shot this picture as a HDR photo and it turned out to be a commercial success. You will find it on the wall at the Ponca Elk Education Center as a 6'x9' 3 panel print.

My point is don't be upset if the elk vanish and you feel skunked. Keep your eyes open, be alert, and be determined to find some other subjects. When disappointed with one subject, you should be on the lookout for another opportunity. Stay positive, the next photo could be a "lifetime list" photo. Pros don't quit, they refocus.

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