Friday, September 27, 2013

Shooting the Elk Rut

Elk viewing area along Dewey Road
 I just returned home after spending four mornings and three evenings in the Pennsylvania elk range. 
Dense fog enveloped Winslow Hill each morning.  While fog can obscure the scene it also can add it's own particular atmosphere to the resulting images. 

When a bull began battling a tree it was necessary to get quite close to photograph the action.  Note the flying debris resulting from his violent shaking.
 The fog lifted between 9:30 and 11:00 am each morning but by that time the elk activity had moved into the woods.

Elk began returning to the open areas by late afternoon.  This bull was taking a short break when I photographed him bedded on the outskirts of his harem. 

On my last evening this old bull seemed to have tired of all the rushing about.  After walking away from a harem guarded by a younger bull, the old bull bedded soaking up the last rays of the late evening sun.  I was too close to the bull to get him all in a single frame with the 600mm lens but yet was not satisfied with the appearance of the image when shot with 70-200mm.  To obtain the image posted here I turned the Canon 6D vertical and shot a series of images moving left to right then stitching them together in Photoshop.
Once again I thoroughly enjoyed my excursion to the Pennsylvania elk range.  The elk activity, while not as wild as it has been some times, was good as was visiting and shooting with the ever growing group of dedicated wildlife photographers who make the annual pilgrimage to Benezette Pennsylvania each autumn in search of memorable elk images.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Birding Extremes

Saturday morning as I sat beside a meadow I was startled when a large bird swooped past so close that I could hear the wind in its feathers.  As quickly as it appeared it was out of sight and I was unsure of whether I had seen an immature bald eagle or my first golden for the fall. 
About 15 minutes later the eagle returned to perch in a tree 100-120 yards away.  While I would have loved to have had the bird closer this was close enough to get some decent shots with the 600mm lens.  It was also close enough to confirm that it was an immature bald eagle.

As the rain began falling I packed up my camera gear and began walking away.  Looking back I was surprised to see the eagle continuing to preen paying no mind to my presence.
After photographing the eagle, one of our largest birds, yesterday; this morning I went to the other extreme.  This female ruby throated hummingbird was perched in a dogwood tree moments before the sun crested the eastern horizon.  I began photographing the tiny bird from a few feet away and was rewarded with the best shot of the session when the little bird shook and ruffled its feathers before buzzing off in search of food.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

On the Water: The Last of Summer

As I left a Raystown Lake dock early Saturday morning I could hear the honking of geese over the idling of my outboard motor.  I had the Canon 100-400 L attached to the 6D and by hand holding it at 100mm, ISO 1000 was able to capture the scene as the flock passed overhead.

There seemed to be boats everywhere.  Later I learned that there were four tournaments underway in the area.  With summer rapidly winding down the some of the foliage is already beginning to change color. 

At one point I spotted this lone fisherman motoring at a moderate speed with the front mount trolling motor down.  I wonder if he was just wanting to go slow or if he was worrying about why his boat was not cruising normally.
It has been my experience that wildlife photos are difficult to come by on this lake.  There is plenty of diverse habitats to attract a variety of water loving birds and animals.  However it seems that most wildlife either avoid the area or remain hidden because of the high level of human disturbance.

Even the Great Blue Herons are quick to flush and seldom allow an approach to within good telephoto lens range.  For some reason this particular bird did allow me to approach it using both the electric motor and the outboard, both a slow speed.

This day was probably my last summer day on the water as I have different plans for the upcoming weekend.  While it is still summer it certainly didn't feel like it with the morning temperature in the mid 40's nor did it look like summer with the autumn colors beginning to show.
As I look at the calendar I see that soon autumn will begin and once again it will be time for my annual trip to the Pennsylvania elk range. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Meadow Grounds Lake Re-visited

It has been a while since I have shared photos of the drained lake.  This photo was taken from near the end of the shallow pool left as a catch basin facing the dam breast wall. 

On the western side across from the former boat dock a shallow pool still exists.  It appears that it is only a few inches deep. 
I didn't see any wildlife utilizing the pool but it did make a nice reflection shot.

Most of the lake bed is now covered in a thick mat of smartweed and sedge
A view of a small pool

In some places the exposed sediment has not broken down and is nearly as hard as shale


It appears that someone cut tires into sections and dropped them into the lake to improve fish habitat.  It has been a few decades since wide whitewall tires were popular which would lead me to believe that these tires have been here for quite some time.  They were in 20+ feet of water which protected them from damaging UV rays.

With SB680 stalled in the Pa House transportation committee; hope of the lake being repaired and refilled anytime soon is doubtful.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Raystown in the Fog

I awoke Saturday morning to a chilly 49 degrees at my house.  With plans to spend the morning on Raystown Lake I expected the warm lake to be blanketed in fog.  Arriving at the lake at sunup I was not disappointed. 

From the number of fishing boats hugging the shoreline it appeared that a bass tournament was underway.  Personally I never fish tournaments for I find no need to compete or gamble to make my time outdoors fulfilling.

Regardless of whether one was fishing for fun, competing in a tournament, or out photographing the scenery it was a beautiful morning on the water.

With the last wisp of fog dissipating, the lake, bathed in early morning sunlight, was stunningly beautiful under a crisp clear sky.  

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Colors of the Season

As summer winds down more colors are becoming evident besides that of flowers.  A roadside asparagus plant shows off its colorful fruits bejeweled by water drops.   

Poison Ivy leaves are changing colors and some have already fallen.  The ivy seed pods seen here in the background are favored food of many bird species. 

Virginia Creeper is one of our earliest plants to change into its autumn color.   It's crimson red color is easy to spot now while most other plants remain green.
While autumn is nearly three weeks away by the calendar, the seasonal change in nature is occurring every day now.