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Thread: Fall Colors in Alaska

  1. #1

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    Fall Colors in Alaska

    Hi, folks. Sorry I've been AWOL for a while. Life has been getting in the way of photography lately. But even if I'd had the time, we've had about a solid month of rain around here. But it finally cleared up over the weekend and perfect timing for fall colors on the mountains. Due to the latitude here, the tree line isn't very far up the mountains so they are mostly alpine tundra. That means that fall colors are mostly on the ground rather than in trees. Lovely none the less and very brief in passing. Unfortunately doing them justice is beyond my landscape shooting skills and I've yet to get anything that I'm happy with. This weekend was no exception but this time it's not my fault

    Saturday morning my wife and I were headed down the trail to a spot I had in mind from previous scouting. About a mile down the trail we ran into a juvenile bull moose. He was unusually surly for some reason. Maybe he's tired of being pushed around by the bigger bulls and finally saw someone smaller than himself that he could push around. Who knows? At any rate, even though we were giving him plenty of space he kept posturing and pushing us back up the trail. We would move off a hundred meters or so from him and he would casually keep walking towards us and as he got nearer he'd start grunting a challenge, swaying his head, and laying his ears back. After retreating a quarter mile or so with no signs of him getting bored with us, we had to bag it and give up on the shoot. He was kind enough to walk across some color during the adventure so I grabbed a couple of shots

    Nikon D7100, 70-200mm VR, handheld
    Fall Colors in Alaska

    While we were having our encounter with the "little guy" Saturday, I had seen a bigger bull up on the side of the mountain above us. Sunday morning broke crystal clear, cold, and still. So I decided to head back up and see if I could find the bigger bull, hopefully out where I could capture some color in the frame. They don't have much reason to walk across the open tundra (nothing they eat grows there) so rarely do so. Good news is that I did locate a bigger bull. Not a behemoth, but a decent average sized bull. He was following a couple of cows and they were moving along the edge of the spruce thickets. Unforunately they were already headed for bed and I was behind them. Once they start traveling like this they rarely change direction so if you're behind them you end up mostly staring at the less interesting end of the moose But it's still not a bad way to spend a fall morning

    The old trick of whistling to get a critter to look at you usually doesn't work on moose. But the grunt that the bulls use to challenge one another is pretty easy to mimic and they don't dare ignore another bull approaching this time of year. This was as far as I could get him to turn his head while in a fairly interesting location. The shot does show his "bell" under his chin and his antlers are still red with blood from recently scraping off the velvet. This guy is probably three or four years old and just approaching the prime of his life. The moose in this particular area don't get the big double "palms" typically associated with moose antlers. For some reason in this spot they all have antlers much more resembling deer with several branches and long tynes (aka spikes).

    Right after this shot he headed of into the woods.

    Nikon D4, 200-400mm VR, tripod
    Fall Colors in Alaska

  2. #2
    Digital's Avatar
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    Re: Fall Colors in Alaska

    Dan, great story, and great shots.


    Bruce

  3. #3
    BCrose's Avatar
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    Re: Fall Colors in Alaska

    Beautiful. Such amazing creatures.

  4. #4
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Fall Colors in Alaska

    Nice to see you back. Nice photos made extra special by your story.

  5. #5

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    Re: Fall Colors in Alaska

    Yes, thank you for the story behind it all. Nice captures!
    Moose are HUGE, and the 1st time you see one, it is almost scary, depending on your cover! :0
    Nancy

  6. #6
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Fall Colors in Alaska

    Very nice.

  7. #7

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    Re: Fall Colors in Alaska

    Very nice captures Dan and I enjoyed the tale. Not many of us get to grunt at a moose.

  8. #8
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Fall Colors in Alaska

    Quote Originally Posted by NorthernFocus View Post
    Hi, folks. Sorry I've been AWOL for a while.
    Well, this is what you'd call returning with a bang! Wonderful wildlife pictures supported by a great story of how they were made.

    Great to see you posting again, Dan.

  9. #9

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    Re: Fall Colors in Alaska

    Who knows?
    My formative years were spent in a farming/rural area but later turned into an urban type person.
    After retirement, I got this idea to build a home in the mountains of Colorado...didn't take long to realize that it wasn't only my home. Other critters, big cats/bears and such, had been there long before I moved in. I'll never forget my first bear encounter, I was sitting on a stump admiring the view and I hear this very deep Woof-Woof sound, turned around and there was this black bear watching me admire the view.

    Moral of story is...when ya move into a neighborhood, ya gotta adjust to your neighbors, not the other way around. It's the same with photography.

  10. #10
    Wavelength's Avatar
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    Re: Fall Colors in Alaska

    Outstanding images; i cannot understand what is on the head of the second animal, something like a fan.... is that cartilaginous? Further it took me some time to realize that the shadow seen in that image was that of the animal and not of a man with a cap behind
    Regards

  11. #11
    mstrozewski's Avatar
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    Re: Fall Colors in Alaska

    Great shots! Moose are always interesting to photograph.

  12. #12
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    Re: Fall Colors in Alaska

    Great shots and story. Only sorry to see the fall colours; it means it is coming to a location near me quite soon.

    You mentioned calling moose. I have a friend who decided to demonstrate his technique to his hunting buddies at breakfast. Ten seconds later an enraged bull crashed through the willows lining a stream beside the camp and began to trash the place. No people were hurt but he said the devastation was very complete

  13. #13

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    Re: Fall Colors in Alaska

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. Moose are really interesting creatures. One of the coolest things about photographing them is that one gets ample opportunity to observe their behavior. Right now the bulls are hanging around together all chummy and having sparring matches. In another week or so the rut will get into full swing and they will do everything they can to kill one another. Testosterone taken to the extreme...

  14. #14
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Re: Fall Colors in Alaska

    Nice job Dan. I enjoyed this.

  15. #15

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    Re: Fall Colors in Alaska

    I love these Dan, I really like that you were able to portray how steep the terrain is. I am sure that hike is a nice workout. I have Elk within an hour from me, your pics make me want to go check on them. The Elk are really cool to see when they go into rut too.

  16. #16
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    Re: Fall Colors in Alaska

    Great shots, Dan. Thanks for sharing those. I was fortunate enough to spend the first 2 weeks of September there a few years ago, and was amazed by the speed of the change in colors. Each day was a brand-new treat.

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