Saturday, September 29, 2007


One of my favorite shots from the excursion was of this massive bull bugling.

It saddens me to think that this bull and many others like him will soon be legal game in front of the guns. Although portrayed in hunting magazines as a challenging and difficult to hunt wild animal, my experience with the Pennsylvania elk has been quite different. The animals I encountered here were unconcerned with human presence. They are “wild” as in free ranging and not penned but they have a great deal of tolerance for people. Speaking as a life long hunter, I cannot imagine finding any more challenge killing one of these elk than I would find shooting the family milk cow.

I do understand that the herd cannot be allowed to increase to the point that it is damaging its habitat or creating undo human conflict. To effectively control the herd size cow numbers must be kept in check and the most cost effective (profitable) method is through public hunting. The current Pennsylvania Game Commission regulations allows a considerable number of trophy bulls to be taken in the area where tourist access is available while at the same time the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is attempting to build a viable Eco-tourist industry in Pennsylvania’s north woods designated
Pennsylvania Wilds with elk viewing being one of the main attractions.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Standing Guard

The fresh autumn colors provided a beautiful backdrop for this bull watching over his favorite cow.

The rut (mating season) is a frantic time in the life of the Bull Elk, mid-day is the only time he rests. During the evenings, nights, and mornings he can be found pursuing cows and challenging other bulls to battle. The dominate bull keeps close guard over his harem of cows and is always on the alert for intruders. One veteran elk photographer advised me that in order to avoid problems “always make sure the bull knows that you are a man and never get between him and his cow.”

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bulls in the Fog

The heavy fog lent a surreal quality to the morning. This morning was my first time encountering rutting bulls up-close. Although the fog limited our visibility it also proved to be an asset by providing a beautiful soft-focus background for some of the shots.

As I stated in my previous post, this is a hunted herd. The killing of these animals is a highly controversial subject with diametrically opposed groups having little common ground. The Pa Game Commission considers it essential to hunt this herd to control its numbers. Also the hunt is the only direct source of income the commission derives from the herd. At the same time elk viewing is an important tourist resource bringing much needed tourism dollars to the local economy. The coming years will prove to be a balancing act between the various stakeholders.

As for me, the camera is the only way I have any desire to hunt these Majestic Animals

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hunting the Elk Rut

Monday morning began earlier than usual for me with my alarm sounding at 1:30am. After a quick bowl of cereal I was on my way to meet my brother in Benezette Pennsylvania, a drive of some three and one-half hours to hunt the elk rut. This was to be my first ever photo-hunt for these magnificent animals.

This area of Pennsylvania is the home of a free-ranging herd of elk that is estimated to number 1000 head or more. Although this herd does not contain the number of truly large bulls that it did a few years ago, before a hunting season was established, there continues to be quite a number of beautiful bull available to the photographer willing to work for them.

Following a considerable predawn hike over rough terrain we reached a meadow from which we had been hearing elk bugling. While straining to see the source of the commotion this bull appeared like an apparition as he hove into view.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Friday, September 21, 2007

Antietam, Parting Thoughts

As we leave Antietam I hope you have enjoyed viewing this series as much as I have sharing it. These photographs were taken one beautiful morning in late August as I roamed this sacred ground. I much prefer to visit such places when no crowds are present as it allows me to reflect upon what transpired here.

As I walk these grounds I feel as if I am in a sanctuary, much the feeling of reverence I experience in a house of worship but much stronger. The combatants upon this field were all American, some from the North and some from the South. Both sides worshiped the same god and asked their god to protect them and to give their side the victory. Many were good and a few were bad, but you could not separate them by the uniform they wore.

This war was fought to decide whether State’s rights came before the powers of the Federal Government. The issue was slavery.

Looking back I have difficulty understanding how a people who worshiped Christ and read the same Bible I read could have conceived and perpetrated such an institution but then again it is also difficult for me to understand how this same people took this land from its rightful owners, the Native Americans, through centuries of ethnic cleansing.

I have no answers, only questions as I contemplate the history of this great country. I have listened to preachers tell how our country was founded upon biblical principles by God fearing men and I am left to wonder when I look at the “skeletons in our closet”.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Antietam, Parting Shots

The final Union Assault was upon the Confederate right across what is now known as Burnside’s Bridge. This attack finally failed about 5:30pm with the arrival of Rebel troops under the command of Gen. A. P. Hill. The troops moved immediately into line of battle upon arriving after an exhausting seventeen mile march from Harpers Ferry effectively stopping the Union advance.

This cannon sits near where the Union troops entered Burnside’s Bridge.

A co-worker/friend of mine is taking a photography class taught by a former National Geographic photographer. The assignment for the fifth class is to shoot a scenic. He is required to shoot either in the morning between the hours of 7-9am or he may choose the evening between 5-7pm. I mentioned to him that Antietam would be a great place to shoot and took the opportunity to share this series with him. Following our conversation I began to make some mental notes concerning why I prefer the morning in most cases.

First I must admit I am a morning type of guy. My favorite part of the day is that peaceful time just before the sunrise. If you have ever shot anything other than the occasional snapshot I am sure you understand the effect of low angle lighting and its ability to enhance a photograph but naturally it is present both morning and evening.

Morning though is unique, heavy dew can make a scene sparkle or even become the subject itself. Ground fog can also be used to our advantage in many ways, and last but certainly not least; if the light is not correct for the shot envisioned, just wait, for it will improve. If this same situation presents itself in the evening the only remedy will be a return trip.

If it were necessary to choose between the two I am sure I would choose the morning but with that being said I would sorely miss the warm light that can only be found during a beautiful sunset.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Antietam, the Center

After the early morning attack against the Confederate left failed to break the enemy line, Union action moved to the Rebel center. The Union advance was halted by troops holding a very good position in the Sunken Road, soon to be renamed Bloody Lane.

The ferocity of the fighting here is demonstrated by the information contained on a plaque commemorating the 14th Indiana Infantry. Of three hundred and twenty officers and men engaged here from 9:00AM until 12:15PM, thirty were killed and one hundred and fifty wounded.

I captured this image through the rail fence that runs along the north side of The Bloody Lane

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Glimpse through the Window of Time

I glanced out the window of the Dunkar Church and was transported back in time. A small Confederate formation stood by their encampment, the same ground occupied by Stonewall Jackson’s troops in 1862.

This humble church, the sanctuary of worship of a small German Baptist sect became the objective of the Union Army 1st Corps commanded by General Hooker on the morning of the 17th, the bloodiest day in American History.

Monday, September 17, 2007


The Artillery pieces stand silent as they have for nearly one and a half centuries; a memorial to the men who fought and died here, a memorial to the day when the fate of our country hinged upon the actions of the men who met upon this field of battle.

As I walked the battlefield in the early morning my thoughts were interrupted only by the occasional biker or jogger. In the calm of the morning it was difficult to contemplate what the battle on this very ground must have been like. I tried to envision the movement of the troops, the sounds of the cannon and musketry, the yells and screams of the men. I tried to imagine the dash and daring along with the terror, the pain, and immense carnage but to little avail.

Antietam lies Peaceful and Calm

Sunday, September 16, 2007

September 17th, 1862 Remembered

September 17th 1862 remains the single bloodiest day in American History.

Two Great Armies met at Sharpsburg Maryland one hundred and forty five years ago today to contest the right of states to leave the Union. A union created just some eighty years earlier. The north remembered this terrible battle by the name of the creek that flowed through the contested ground, Antietam. While in the south it was known as the Battle of Sharpsburg. Nearly twenty three thousand causalities were the result of this single day of fighting, all American. To put the causalities into perspective, this day totaled more than was suffered in the American Revolution, The War of 1812, The Mexican War, and the Spanish American War combined.

This photograph is of the historic Rohrbach's Bridge, forever known since that fateful day as Burnside’s Bridge. I captured this image one misty morning as the first rays of sunlight fell upon it.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Youth Field Day

Youth Field Day is an event conceived by the Pennsylvania Game Commission a few years ago as a way of introducing our youth to the great outdoors. Today these events are held at various locations around our state.

Our local Youth Field Days, held today, included hands on seminars on all terrain vehicle safety and regulations, turkey hunting, archery, rifle shooting, trap shooting, furbearer trapping, boater safety and muzzle loading rifles. Most of these events are hands on and are conducted by officers from the Pa Game Commission, Pa Fish & Boat Commission, and DCNR (Department of Conservation and Natural Resources) along with local enthusiast.

In recent years youth participation in the outdoor sports has dwindled considerably. This event is a fun filled day designed to spark an interest in the outdoors. As to whether events such as these will help pry our youth away from their keyboards, TV’s and other assorted electronic gadgets has yet to be seen.

In this photo a young lady is firing a muzzle loading rifle possibly for the first time.

As I observed and photographed this event I realized there was no one representing one of the greatest of all outdoor sports. No one was introducing these children to Outdoor Photography.

Already plans are being made to fill this niche. If all goes well, next year yours truly will be working our local event, attempting to instill in these youth the love of the outdoors captured through the lens of a camera.

Friday, September 14, 2007


This large grasshopper watched cautiously as I captured her image. The grasshopper is so heavy with eggs that it was difficult for her to jump let alone fly.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Autumn Nears

The stately branches of the Common Mullen signal

the approaching end of Summer

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Yellow Swallowtail

Butterflies will soon be gone for another year so I will risk boring you with this Yellow Swallowtail. This old butterfly, although tattered, was flying vigorously among the blossoms.

Late this summer I have found most of my butterflies visiting thistle flowers. Thistles are considered a noxious weed by farmers and most landowners but in the scheme of nature thistle nectar and pollen is an important source of food for many insects while the seeds are hungrily sought after by birds.

The true value of nature is often not appreciated. Many folks spend their lives chasing the unholy dollar while ignoring the natural treasures we are blessed with. Mankind strives to control nature when instead we should be more concerned with learning to live in harmony with it.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Beauty in Flight

This Monarch tired of the “One Eyed Monster” hovering over her. I was aware my shutter fired just a moment to late but I was pleasantly surprised when I reviewed the image.

I would have preferred her to be sharper but in nature photography it is not possible to ask the subject for a retake.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Gargoyles & Castles

As out of place as a Model A at Daytona Speedway; the Berkeley Castle sits high on a ridge overlooking Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. Amazingly this castle was built as a summer cottage.

As I passed by this morning I could not resist pausing for a quick shot. After taking a few “tourist type” shots I began looking for an unusual perspective.

Click here to learn more about the interesting history of this unusual structure.

Friday, September 07, 2007

C&O Canal

The C&O Canal was conceived to be an affordable artery of transportation between the Chesapeake Bay and Ohio. Construction began in the 1830’s with the canal opening to barge traffic in 1850. Goods were moved by barges pulled by mule teams. The canal spans 184 miles and roughly follows the Potomac River. Seventy five locks were built to raise and lower the barges.

In retrospect the canal’s builders and investors had overlooked one very important competitor, a competitor who would keep the C&O from becoming the profitable investment they intended it to be, a competitor who would along with the rampaging Potomac River eventually become it's downfall, the B&O railroad.

Today the C&O is a
National Historic Park. The tow path that mules once trod is now a hiking and biking path. Remnants of the canal are still visible.

I captured this image from inside of lock 47.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Hiding, but not Hidden

While taking my evening stroll, this Leopard Frog alarmed by my presence, jumped into a small brook. Apparently believing himself hidden he remained motionless while I captured this image from a few inches away.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Early Arrival

A nice Whitetail Buck steps from the shadows into the warm evening sunlight

Photographing whitetails often involves working in low light conditions. Early mornings and late evening are the best times to encounter them in the open. Fast ISO’s, large apertures and slow shutter speeds are the norm in whitetail photography but on this evening the buck arrived a little early.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Seeing the Unexpected

Macro Photography frequently reveals details that would otherwise be overlooked

I failed to notice this tiny spider until I was focusing for the shot

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Carrick Furnace

Today my Wife and I took a morning drive into parts of four Pennsylvania counties. While driving North on Rt. 75 in Franklin County we came across this interesting ruin from days gone by. During the late 1700’s and into the mid to late 1800’s Franklin County supported a number of iron works. The Carrick Furnace was operated by the Dunn Family from 1828 until 1880.

Amazingly, as you can see, some of the iron parts of the facility are still intact standing to the right of the hearth itself.

Shooting this scene in the fog seemed fitting as so much of the history of this business and the men who labored here is now lost to the “Fog of Time”

Today Franklin County does not support any iron or steel works although it is a thriving manufacturing area with many job shops and a few large OEM’s.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Butterfly Hunting

A great late summer sport is butterfly hunting. Equipment requirements can be as simple as a close focusing Point & Shoot to as extravagant as a DSLR, tripod and a good 100mm+ macro lens. Butterfly hunting as those of you who have done it know, is not without challenge. I seems as if just when I have completed the setup and composed the photograph, my little friend has an immediate and urgent need to check another blossom or to leave the area altogether.

I think this is Clouded Sulphur Butterfly but if I am wrong I will be glad to stand corrected