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Thread: Honey, not in front of the kids!

  1. #1
    Dizzy's Avatar
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    Honey, not in front of the kids!

    Caught the local herd out a few days back, and the herd bull and his leading lady were getting a bit ..umm..frisky, and right in front of the children...

    Honey, not in front of the kids!
    1/100s f/7.1 at 300.0mm iso1250

    I've been working hard at improving the quality of my photo's, and am pleased with the results from this outing. These were all shot in fading light, and with the 70mm-300mm ED/VR at an estimated distance of 125m - 150m.

    Posted a pic of this fellow a few weeks back, and since that time he has rubbed off the rest of the "velvet" covering on this years set of antlers. He even went so far as to polish the tips to a nice ivory luster..which in elk language means he's ready to fight for dominance over the harem of of about 20 cows (gals) he has gathered. He is most definitely "The Boss":

    Honey, not in front of the kids!
    1/160s f/5.6 at 300.0mm iso1000

    Honey, not in front of the kids!
    1/160s f/5.6 at 300.0mm iso1000

    When the elk are involved in their breeding season (aka: rut), the bulls get very aggressive with one another in order to establish dominance over the cows. The strongest of the bulls generally wins the fights (which can get nasty mean at times), meaning that only the biggest and strongest of the gene pool gets breeding rights. This insures that the progeny will be strong, healthy calves that can withstand the harshness of a cold winter, and that will continue his bloodlines to strengthen the herd.

    In this last pic the Herd Boss was getting a bit vocal, but unfortunately the light was about completely gone. I really wanted a shot of him bugling, so took a chance and cranked the ISO up to 2000 and snapped this last shot off-hand while he was mid-bugle.

    Click on the link below the pic and you can hear what they actually sound like.

    Honey, not in front of the kids!
    1/50s f/7.1 at 300.0mm iso2000
    Sound of a Bull Elk bugling..

    Pic is not very good, but considering the conditions (near dark and shot off-hand) I was very pleased to capture it at all. There is a cow on the left side with a calf nudging her side, and she has a collar from the Dept. of Wildlife. They use these to keep track of the location of the herd.

    (Short side note : Last Saturday morning I went up to the remote mountain area where I get the best views for shooting the sunrise. It was still quite early when I arrived, so I set up the tripod and got the camera properly mounted and ready to shoot photo's when the Sun started glowing on the eastern horizon. As I sat there in my chair, sipping my coffee and gazing into the fog filled valley's below me, the dominant bulls from the various elk herds began singing their "challenge to battle" bugles to one another across the valley floor. As one would bugle to the North, another would answer the call from a mountain side or canyon perhaps as far as a mile away. Still another would respond from another valley to the East, and one even bugled from high above and behind me to the South.

    In all I counted 8 different bulls, all challenging each other for their harems, and have no doubt that one or two sought out their competitors and engaged in battle with each other before the days end.

    As the Sun rose they soon grew silent, however in all the years I've spent living around these animals, including the many years I spent hunting them with stick and string, that was without question the most magical, bugle filled half-hour I've ever had the good fortune to experience.)

    These are also the first images I've processed with the Adobe Lightroom 3. Have to admit I was a bit upset when I opened the box and out slid a CD, but no instruction book whatsoever. Guess I'm just "old school"..LOL.

    Plenty of tutorials on the web, however, and there is little doubt that it's going to take me awhile...(make that a couple of "awhiles").. to get anywhere near proficient with all the bells and whistles this program has.

    As always, your comments and, dare I say criticism's are greatly appreciated; any suggestions made will be put into practice.

    Mike

    If interested, there are more elk pics on my PBase page at: http://www.pbase.com/dizzygazer/all_elk_photos
    Last edited by Dizzy; 6th September 2011 at 06:25 AM.

  2. #2

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    Re: Honey, not in front of the kids!

    Mike, I love the look of these shots. The second one is my favourite, but I might try cropping the band of grass at the top. I just love the tones in the deer and the limited amount of colours and the way they blend together in all of these shots. You have obviously been working very hard, these look much better to me than the ones you linked from a couple weeks ago: Elk in the field

    These all have a certain look to them that I cannot explain, but they have a soft look that I really like but which may be criticized by some. I think it is a matter of personal taste.

    The first one has a painterly look to it that I like very much. My only suggestion would be to try and lighten the shadows on the head of the doe. Oh, and again, I would probably crop out the top band of dark grass/shrubs. The dark bands seem to bring the field to an end and I like the idea of it going on into the distance rather than having an end to it, if that makes sense.

    I hope you get more comments from the pros on these shots. They have a unique look that I really like but I'm very interested in hearing how they stack up from a technical viewpoint.

    Wendy

  3. #3

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    Re: Honey, not in front of the kids!

    Wonderful shots you got there. The "softness" even adds to the painterly effect.

    We too hear calls all the time - car horns blaring in the traffic

  4. #4
    Dizzy's Avatar
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    Re: Honey, not in front of the kids!

    Thanks Bobo! Sorry that you have to hear the racket of the car horns...I used to live in a big city, and can certainly remember what that never ending din of street noise sounds like.

    Wendy, I would prefer them to be sharper, but the light was fading fast, and the herd was a long ways away (for reference, that large bull is about as big as a mid-sized horse). I had the ISO cranked up pretty high to try and have a fast enough shutter to stop the movement or they would be blurred. Knew there would be a lot of noise in the pics, and was actually very pleased to see how the Lightroom program was able to remove much of it with the "Luminance" control, and then add more sharpening. Unfortunately, that "oil painting" look was part of the result. It was my first attempt with Lightroom, and I spent a day just reading tutorials, watching tutorial video's and processing 10 images.

    I cropped that 2nd pic a bit tighter, and removed the dark shrubbery at the end of the field. Better now?

    Honey, not in front of the kids!

    Here's another one from the same shoot. The bull was really displaying his dominance, and out of the shot is a cow elk that had wandered off, and he was hazing her back into the herd.

    Honey, not in front of the kids!
    1/160s f/5.6 at 300.0mm iso1250

    BTW, these are all elk and no deer are present, so the gals are "cows" and the guys are "bulls". The young bulls with the immature antlers are typically known as "raghorns". The cows are also very vocal at times, especially when disciplining their young, or talking back to the Herd Bull...

    Mike
    Last edited by Dizzy; 6th September 2011 at 08:09 PM. Reason: mid-sized horse..just for reference

  5. #5

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    Re: Honey, not in front of the kids!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dizzy View Post
    Wendy, I would prefer them to be sharper, but the light was fading fast, and the herd was a long ways away (for reference, that large bull is about as big as a good sized horse). I had the ISO cranked up pretty high to try and have a fast enough shutter to stop the movement or they would be blurred. Knew there would be a lot of noise in the pics, and was actually very pleased to see how the Lightroom program was able to remove much of it with the "Luminance" control, and then add more sharpening. Unfortunately, that "oil painting" look was part of the result. It was my first attempt with Lightroom, and I spent a day just reading tutorials, watching tutorial video's and processing 10 images.
    Well, you may have liked sharper shots, but I must say the final result is very pleasing to me. The detail might not be there but the tones in the elk and grass are very beautiful. Clicking on the shot and viewing in the Lytebox is a must for these.
    I would have to say all your studying has paid off. I have LR and I don't think I would even try proccesing anything shot at such a high ISO. Of course there are other factors at play like the camera being used and operator error. I think I might be getting some tips from you on LR processing in the very near future.

    I cropped that 2nd pic a bit tighter, and removed the dark shrubbery at the end of the field. Better now?
    Honey, not in front of the kids!

    Yes, I like this better. Also I don't know how I missed it but when I first viewed this post I did not notice the third shot of the bull. That one is fantastic, and again, I just love the light and the tones.

    BTW, these are all elk and no deer are present, so the gals are "cows" and the guys are "bulls". The young bulls with the immature antlers are typically known as "raghorns". The cows are also very vocal at times, especially when disciplining their young, or talking back to the Herd Bull...

    Mike
    Ooops, thanks for the correction, being Canadian, I should know these things, but as you can tell if you read any of my posts, I've forgotten most things I ever learned. I never know what I'm taking pictures of. Work just got in the way somehow or other.

    I envy you and others living close to this kind of scene and I certainly look forward to more shots. If you keep improving at your present rate, well I won't want to miss anything.

    Wendy

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    Re: Honey, not in front of the kids!

    Much improved,Mike. This will be like a saga until the end of the rutting Lol.

  7. #7
    Dizzy's Avatar
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    Re: Honey, not in front of the kids!

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnC View Post
    Much improved,Mike. This will be like a saga until the end of the rutting Lol.
    Thanks John! Unfortunately the other large, mature bulls in the area have not come
    on the scene to challenge this big bloke. Was sincerely hoping for a chance at some
    first-class battle scenes.

  8. #8
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    Re: Honey, not in front of the kids!

    Very nice shots... I wonder if using a flash (with or without a flash extender) might not pump a bit of light into the image and provide some catchlights in the eyes...

    I have to tell this story. I was hiking with my son in the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico many years ago. We had a Labrador puppy that we carried in our pack because we had no one to leave her with. I was teaching my son how to blow an elk bugle and then we quit for the day and pitched our tent and went to sleep. Later than evening we heard an elk bugling very close to us. My son said, "Blow your horn, Dad!" I refused because I didn't want an amorous elk to share the tent with us. All this time, the little puppy had burrowed down inside the sleeping bag all the way to my feet.

  9. #9
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    Re: Honey, not in front of the kids!

    I love the picture of the bull...you really captured his spirit. Amazing to be able to get these shots. We have elk farms here in North Idaho and I almost thought you had taken them at one of those places.

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