Thursday, June 5, 2014

Separation Anxiety

When photographing wildlife, having some separation between animals is helpful. It allows all their features and distinctive body lines to show. More importantly, it does not create a distraction if, for example, one head blocks another.

This was a lovely spring day in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Spring showers came and went, and the grass was an almost impossible shade of green. The immature female in the foreground was calmly grazing while her mother rested in the background.

Many elk live in the Cataloochee section of the park, protected and thriving. These two were very close to the road, so exiting the car quietly with no door slamming was important to prevent them from being spooked by our presence.

I had to walk a short distance to my left in order to create the amount of separation I wanted in this shot. My original vantage point put the two heads too close together. These elk are acclimated to people, so normal movements did not disturb them. But when photographing any wildlife, no matter how calm or tame they might appear, it is important to remember that they ARE wild and can react in unpredictable ways very quickly. So moving slowly and quietly is important.

In most national parks, you are required to maintain a certain minimum distance from any wildlife at all times. The distance varies, depending on the type of animal. Be sure to read all park information so that you do not get too close, or engage in inappropriate behavior that will disturb the animals. Always remember that it is THEIR land and we are just visitors.

Shutter Speed 1/160 sec.  Aperture f/6.3.  ISO 400.  Lens: Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS, set to 200mm.  Camera: Canon 5D Mark III.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Animals give me more pleasure through the viewfinder of a camera than they ever did in the crosshairs of a gunsight. And after I've finished "shooting," my unharmed victims are still around for others to enjoy."  --Jimmy Stewart

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