Sunday, September 22, 2013

Introducing "Hooks", 2013 Rut Elk Herd Bull

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday we had pretty dense fog, today the light was perfect. I got many photos of Hooks so it is time to introduce him.  Along the way I will offer a few elk photography tips based on many years of experience.

2013 Bull Elk Boxley Valley, Arkansas
Hooks Through the Leaves
This picture was taken just up the road from many photographers who were shooting Hooks.  I shot him through foliage to get a natural frame of leaves. This breaks up a "field shot" and adds interest.  So far as I know, nobody else went for this composition.

Bull Elk during 2013 Rut near Ponca, AR
Hooks Running off a Spike Bull
I think good elk pictures tell the story of the elk rut. Herd bulls like Hooks spend the day running off bulls of all sizes.  This is one of the basic rutting behaviors. Note that this composition shows movement, shows the small bull reaction to the herd bull, and it places the small bull outside the 3rd line on the left.  These are all deliberate.  I try hard to get elk legs in motion, rather than standing like table legs in a field. This illustrates that pretty well.

Bull Elk Running in Field 2013 Elk Rut, Arkansas
Herd Bull "Hooks" in Motion

Here is another picture of Hooks in motion. Again the legs are key. Another feature of this is his head is lowered a bit. Running bull elk lower their heads and tilt their heads back to streamline their antlers.  When they run through brush, this is the only way they can avoid getting tangled up.  Note that in this composition, there is "negative space" in front of Hooks.  This an absolutely standard way of expressing movement.  Note his legs are in motion too.  If they were straight as table legs it would be much less effective.  When I do my post-shoot editing, I look for leg positions when deciding what pictures to keep.  This is a small thing that matters a lot.

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