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Archive for May, 2010

Wildlife Photography – I Don’t Have to Outrun the Bear…

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Bull Moose - Head On View

Not a view of a moose you'll normally want to see

You’ve probably heard the joke about the two hikers who are charged by a grizzly in the forest. One immediately starts removing his boots so he can run faster. The other says, “Are you crazy—you can’t outrun that bear!” The first replies, “I don’t have to outrun the bear… I only have to outrun you!”

I’ve been known to make the similar remarks about close-up wildlife photography (I don’t have to outrun the moose—just another photographer). But in truth, no photo is worth risking your life, and it’s not just the animals you should fear!

Wildlife, particularly in national parks, is often quite tolerant of humans—misleading some to act like they’re at a petting zoo! The apparent calm of bears, moose, bison, et al, can be quite misleading, as they all can suddenly charge. And outrunning them… forget it. Bull moose weigh from 1000-1800 pounds depending on region, and can reach speeds of 35 MPH. Bison can be 2000 pounts, and also hit 35 MPH and jump 6 feet vertically from a standing start! And pity the person who gets between mother and baby—it’s a recipe for disaster that will require great luck to escape. I know—I’ve literally “been there, done that!”

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Written by Craig de Fasselle

May 31st, 2010 at 10:56 am

The National Park Club

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Glacier Point Sunset - Half Dome & Clouds Rest at Yosemite National Park

Glacier Point Sunset - Half Dome & Clouds Rest at Yosemite National Park

We’ve found as we’ve visited the national parks, there are a lot of people like us, who are big fans of the national parks. It’s often easy to strike up a conversation with someone at a national park, and to find out which parks they’ve been to, and compare notes. You find yourself chatting with people from across the country, and around the world, and it is wonderful.

When I look at this photograph, one of Craig’s, I think of the evening we spent at Glacier Point, enjoying conversation with others in ‘the club‘ as we all spent time together overlooking one of my favorite spots in the world, Half Dome, as we waited for the sun to set.

Written by Sara

May 22nd, 2010 at 10:37 am

The Value of Research

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Fisher Towers Panorama outside of Arches National Park

Fisher Towers Panorama outside of Arches National Park

With each successive trip, I find that I do more and more research in preparation for our trip. Most if not all of the national parks have natural history associations that are a great source of information on the parks. You can get books, calendars, maps, hiking guides and DVD’s to help you learn about learn about the park’s scenery, wildlife and any other area of interest you may have. I have a pretty good sense of the place before we arrive, and it helps me look forward to the trip.

I naturally look for spectacular scenery, and discovered the Fisher Towers area in one book. It is outside of Arches National Park, in the Moab, UT area, and apparently not widely known, as we had the place to ourselves for most of the evening. As the sun was setting, a local photo guide brought some other tourists in to do some shooting. I have to say that I was rather proud to have found the place on my own without paying someone hundreds of dollars to get me there! As you can see, Craig was able to take a beautiful panorama of the spot!

Written by Sara

May 18th, 2010 at 6:12 pm

The “3000 Foot Flash” – when to use your flash outdoors

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It may have been too dim to shoot the moose, but Sara got this nice shot at Ox Bow Bend

It may have been too dim to shoot the moose, but Sara got this nice shot at Oxbow Bend

One evening at Oxbow Bend in The Grand Tetons, we were watching a cow moose browsing in the water. She was at least 200 yards away, and it was already too dim for a photo. But not according to someone who came up to us.

She claimed that she had successfully taken a photo showing the bottom of a 3000 foot canyon using the built-in flash of her point-and-shoot. She insisted that with our camera equipment, we should be able to capture the moose by using the flash! Uh, right.

She wouldn’t believe us when we said that she picked up the canyon based on ambient light rather than a flash—no flash is good for that distance (if it were, it would melt the camera—and probably the photographer—from the heat).

In most cases, the point-and-shoot users would get better results in dim, outdoor situations by turning off their flashes, at least when shooting distant objects. The flash is fine for closer shots, fill-in, or it the animal isn’t too distant, creating a “glint” in their eye (I’ve done this in bright light to get that specular highlight in the eye).

But not from 3000 feet! 😉

Written by Craig de Fasselle

May 8th, 2010 at 1:56 pm