Elk Island Photographers, Yo!

Yesterday I had two goals in mind: shoot the sunrise while looking for the elusive bull moose having a morning drink / swim. It’s something I’ve seen many years ago, but never with a camera in hand, despite my many efforts. As I was entering the park, I came across a beautiful, lone bull moose, but he was on the south side of the park and there was no access so I could photograph him. Either way, always a treat to see one!

With my binoculars in hand, a body and lens set up on my tripod, I looked around and waited for a moose, while crinkling my nose at the rubbish sunrise. My choice of location proved to be an interesting spot for me, as I spent a good 90 minutes in this location and surrounding areas chatting with other photographers. In those 90 minutes, I “hosted” 4 informal photography chats. I have been coming to this spot for years, but never have I found so many chatty photographers in the morning come passing through. I was unable to concentrate on the wildlife in the coveted early morning light because I spent so much time answering questions and pointing directions. Whoops. I suppose it wasn’t meant to be that morning, but it’s hard to turn photographers away, as I do love photography chat and had wished for this interaction over the years myself. Saying that, had the damn moose appeared, I would have bolted and either dragged these photographers with me or just scream my apologizes for ditching them as the car leaves a trail of dust behind.

It’s great to see the photographers comfortable enough to approach other photographers. After all, chances we are there for very similar reasons, so why not interact when possible? You never know what you might learn or what goodies you can pass on to others. I do think there are certain situations photographers should probably not be approached, but that’s for another post down the road. My question to you: do you like to interact with other photographers when out in the field or do you prefer solitude when out shooting?

Since I lost my early morning light, I started to head out, but I had to stop and capture some backlit images of plains bison. It wouldn’t be a proper Elk Island visit if I didn’t, right?

Plains Bison Cow Tongue Bath in Early Morning Light ~ Elk Island

I had to include this strongly backlit image, as I returned to the scene of the crime and just sat back, relaxed and took it all in. No, the CF card I had lost previously in this very spot never appeared, but it was incredible just being there, listening to the birds who are still sticking around the park just do their thing. Even with no swimming moose and a rubbish, rubbish sunrise, all in all, the morning was cool, so I’m happy.

Elk Island National Park of Canada, Parc national du Canada Elk Island, Elk Island National Park, Parc national du Canada Elk Island, Elk Island, Discover Alberta, Explore Alberta, Travel Alberta, Alberta Tourism, Alberta, Canada, National Parks of Canada, Parcs nationaux du Canada, Parks Canada, Parcs Canada, tourism, nature, outdoors, wildlife, landscape, Elk Island Photography, EINP, Sidney Blake Photography, Sidney Blake, photographer, Alberta, copyrighted image, All Rights Reserved, 2012

Oh, and here is that rubbish sunrise. I would have fared better had I focused on the trees behind me the sun was briefly, but beautifully lighting.

Elk Island Sunrise

Note: Even though the technical gremlins have struck and messed with some plug-ins, until they are fixed by their owners, there are some navigation woes. Hopefully this will be rectified shortly.

See you in the field!

Photographers, Just Dive In »» Elk Island Photography

Picture it – a weekend morning on my way to Elk Island to capture the sunrise with hopes to find the damn elusive moose in water, when I came across not one, but two bull moose near some crop fields. After a quick detour, I had the rare chance to photograph bull moose, golden crops and the monster rising sun, all in the same bloody frame. I then enter the park and come across a couple hundred bison, slowly working their way off the loop for the day. I even photographed an injured bison, who could barely walk. Chances are she won’t survive the winter if her broken leg doesn’t heal in time (so sad). Later I see my mates and tell them I’m heading over to the ponds to photograph beavers. The sun had already risen higher than I’d like to photograph over water, but when looking for wildlife, you cannot always control the elements, and sure enough, the elusive beaver my mates couldn’t find, I came across. It was looking to be a good wildlife morning for me!

As I’m shooting the beaver, I did something I never do. I switched memory cards and to save time, I put the full card in my hoodie pocket and was about to grab the camera to shoot some more, when another photographer came up to me, as he had some questions. After our brief chat, he walked away to his vehicle, I grabbed my tripod and turned around, lost my footing and well, that was it. The rest sort of escaped my memory as I tumbled, extended tripod and large Wimberley head in hand, down into the ol’ wetlands. Stop laughing.

I thought I had broken my ankle, so I just sat there, unsure what to do next. The photographer came back, but not because he saw me fall, as he had no clue, but to shoot the beaver he missed earlier. Humiliated, not wanting to move, I remained sitting down in the swamp and pretended I was down there on purpose by adjusting my tripod for the perfect vantage point, checking ‘things out’, etc. In fact, I continued to sit on my ass in the stinky, shallow waters and vegetation until he left, which was about 10 mins. When I figured I was in the clear, I attempted to move and finally crawled out of the waters back to my vehicle, only a couple feet away. So. Klutzy.

After I got myself together, I retrieved my gear from the car, banged off some frames, then got inside my vehicle and sat there, watching the beaver work, popping off the odd image. It was then I noticed something was terribly wrong! Let’s see ….

No broken bones – check! Excellent spot found to shoot beavers from next time when wearing waders – check! Deflated ego – check! Thankful my camera and lens were still sitting on my passenger seat at the time – check! My FULL, 16GB Lexar 1000x Digital Film card – MISSING IN ACTION. I looked and looked and looked some more. I tweeted in a state of laughter, humiliation, and panic. I cried in physical pain and photographer pain, then I called my favourite partner-in-crime and cried to him. Chances are the card fell out of my hoodie when I auditioned for the wetlands diving qualifiers by tumbling in the swamp. There are no words to describe how sick I felt. I lost about 500 images I had taken of late that unfortunately were not uploaded to the computer yet, since I was holding off until I had everything transferred between the old and new laptop. Oops.

photographer injuries, tweet

These are the wetlands where I fell in. Thankfully there was lots of vegetation stopping me from getting right to the waters by the beaver lodge, and I landed somewhere in between. Awesome. I snagged these images post-tumble. Oy.

Elk Island Wetlands, Beaver Habitat, Elk Island National Park, landscape, photographer injuries

Read on..

Young Bull Elk :: The Prince Of The Rockies »» Alberta Wildlife Photography

We are well into the swing of the annual elk and moose rut, where bull elk and moose are truly something to see (and hear). So far, I haven’t been able to photograph the rut, but I’m sure hoping to spend some time doing so. It’s never enough, but I’ll take whatever time I can get this year, even if it’s only a few days. Oh  yeah!

Of all the images I have of bull elk, I have to say this one makes me chuckle; here we have a very young, eager and rather inexperienced little bull, ready to find his mates for the season. He is yet to be crowned the king of the Rockies, for there are many years ahead of him before he reaches the status as the majestic one.

I had just purchased the Canon 300mm ƒ2.8 when I shot him (October 2009), and while I know it’s not the most desirable lens for wildlife in terms of focal length (I am reminded of this regularly, thanks, folks!), I was rather happy to be able to capture some of the habitat surrounding this young bull, turning what could be seen as gear limitations into an environmental portrait for this young North American Elk (wapiti). Close up wildlife portraits are always coveted by many, and they are so very important to capture, but so are behavioural captures and environmental portraits. Between these different kinds of images, we are able to have a better glimpse of our wild world.

Though for very different reasons as this young prince (haha), I too am eager for what’s to come.

Young Bull Elk Eyeing His Harem During Rutting Season


See you in the field!