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Where We Live by John Silveira and Richard Blunt. Photos and commentary from Oregon and New England.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.



Elk in Oregon, Part 2

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Yesterday, I posted seven photos of elk to this blog in the morning. Later in the day I got a call from one of the magazine’s employees, Toby Stanley, Jr. He told me that the same herd was back on the north bank of the Rogue River and was right up to the road. I didn’t realize how close to the road he meant until I got there.

When I arrived I was startled to see they were indeed right up to the road, looking as though they were getting ready to cross. All that stood between them and the other side was a fence that they can easily jump over and the occasional traffic on the road.

There was already a pickup with a camper shell parked on the shoulder. The driver was watching the herd when I got there. I pulled in behind the pickup and immediately switched out lenses and put my Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 L USM lens on my Canon 5D Mark III. The lens is a prime that has pretty good image quality and a lot of reach. When I was preparing to buy another lens, I agonized over whether to get it or the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM zoom lens. I’m not made of money, so I had to make my purchase wisely. It isn’t the most expensive or cheapest I’m looking to buy when I part with my cash, I try to get the most bang for the buck. So I read many reviews. There was one review in which the author, who lives in Toronto, placed photos of a distant building he’d shot, using the 400mm prime lens and the zoom lens, with the zoom set to 400mm. The image quality taken with the prime was noticeably better than the zoom’s, and that should have clinched it.

But I kept thinking about the versatility of the 100-400mm zoom. I can’t remember if it was in a forum or in the comment section to a review where a poster made the comment that he chose the 400mm prime because if you have the zoom you’re almost always going to be shooting it at 400mm. I thought, “Of course!” With that, I went for the prime. (Having said that, there have been moments I’ve thought I’d like to back out a little with the prime, but overall the 400mm prime has been just what I wanted.)

One of the first things I noticed was that there are now two full-grown bulls in the herd. The second one hadn’t been there all fall. So, I figure the rut must be over. Anyway, there I was, sitting in my car and, hoping not to spook the herd, I slowly got out with my camera in hand and started taking photos. The herd was nervous. I was excited. I was getting the best elk photos I’ve ever taken. Had I been a little less cautious, I might have been able to get closer to get a better angle on the two big bulls that were standing in water that about came up to their chests. I’m all for dramatic photos, but I was afraid that if I got too close I’d spook the whole herd. When someone else pulled over and took the spot I wanted without spooking them, I realized I’d missed my opportunity.

But I kept taking photos.

Some moron, in a big white dump truck leaned on his horn as he went by and did spook the herd. They started to run, but stopped after he’d passed. I’m not a person who expresses road rage or anything like that. In fact, I’m usually pretty calm in almost any situation. But for this guy I expressed myself in the most vulgar way I could think of on such short notice. If you, the truck driver, are reading this, I hope you saw it my gesture. I meant it sincerely.

Still I got some good photos; 175 in all. Choosing among them has been difficult, but here’s what I’m posting:

 

This bull was one of the first photos I took when I got there.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 800     focal length 400mm

 

This is just a small part of the herd. But you can see the fence that runs alongside the road, blurred in the foreground. They can easily leap over it without even having to get up a head of steam. They just can jump over very high fences from a standstill.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 500     focal length 400mm

 

You’re going to have to look at several photos of the bulls because, as I said in the previous post, only the babies can compete with them as far as interesting photos go.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 1000     focal length 400mm

 

This one’s almost up to his chest in water.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 800     focal length 400mm

 

Another one.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 800     focal length 400mm

 

Sights like this are hard to beat and they’re happening less than two miles outside of Gold Beach.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 1250     focal length 400mm

 

I didn’t crop this one. This is how my camera saw it.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 800     focal length 400mm

 

And here’s what competes with photos of the bulls with their magnificent racks: A momma grooming her calf.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 1000     focal length 400mm

 

A close-up. I don’t know what she’s licking off of it.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 1250     focal length 400mm

 

This guy just looks cool.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 800     focal length 400mm

 

This was among the last photos I took. They’re alert and curious about me.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 1000     focal length 400mm

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