Monday, August 31, 2009

I Photographed What I Found...

After showing you the ugly side of nature last week I thought it would be good to show you the gentler side to start this week. This cow and calf were standing just off the side of the road in the fog and rain. The weather did not provide the best for photographic opportunities but I did not have many chances to get fawns with spots so I fired away recording what I could.

Can you believe that tomorrow will be September already? I am not ready for summer to end or to close the pool. With Shane going back to school last Wednesday I went back to work last Thursday night ending my annual summer vacation. This week I will begin working full tours again until next June. I guess I need to look at the the up side of winter, football and hockey starts and we love hockey. This year I will be playing ice hockey with the Harrisburg Fire Department team and I am really looking forward to it, now not to get hurt and have to use sick leave. The wildlife gets active and I am planning trips already to the Shenandoah mountains, back to Elk County for the Elk rut (no Yellowstone this year), and just finding places around home to hopefully photograph some wildlife. We may even run back down to Florida in March for a cold break and to photograph birds and take in some baseball spring training. I am starting to look forward to next summer already.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Final Day of The Elk Incident...

Today is the final installment of the Elk incident that occurred in Benezette, Pa. When I ended yesterday's post the last photo I gave a time for was 8:28 a.m., today's first photograph was taken at 8:40 a.m. when the conservation officers moved in to untangle the bull from the swings. After removing the bull from the swing set they used a reciprocating saw to remove the damaged antler at 8:41. In the third photo taken at 8:43 the officers checked the bulls temperature and listened to his heart. If you are wondering who the young lady is in the photo she came with one of the officers so I would assume it is his daughter. She recorded the information while the officers tended to the Elk. The fourth photo was taken at 8:45, if you look closely at the right hand of the officer walking away you can see the tranquilizer dart in it. In photo five taken at 8:49 the officer is giving the bull an injection to bring him out of his induced state of unconsciousness. In the sixth photo taken at 8:52 the officer returned to the swing set to move the remaining swings so the bull would not be caught up in them when he came to. You will note on the photo that the right antler has been removed and an ear tag has been placed on his right ear also. I never gave it a thought at the time to ask the officers what number they gave the bull. In the seventh photo taken at 8:52 the Elk comes around and begins to get up. The officer never had the chance to finish moving all the swings before this happened. And in the last photo also taken at 8:52 the bull stands in the safety of the trees after a long ordeal.

As for the bulls status I did ask some questions and found that when the antler breaks off under the skin without the skin tearing that the closed wound often heals without effecting the animals health. That was great to hear as I thought a fracture in that area would possible mean death. They also confirmed that the right eye was okay and that it was not lost like we previously thought. They did inform us that when they use the drugs on an animal that the next 30 days were important to the health of the animal. Side effects are possible and the Elk could still die from the traumatic experience. They also noted that in coming years the right antler will still grow but that it would probably be non typical and that some day it may grow normal again.

I am sorry but I do not remember the names of the two conservation officers even though I was introduced to the one. I would like to commend them for the job they did that day, without them the outcome would have been different. We did stick around until about 9:30 talking and the Elk remained in the same area. We were very thankful that the outcome was positive and we are looking forward to photographing this Elk more in the future. I hope you enjoyed the article not as entertainment but as a news worthy event. The article was also meant to be educational in photography (like I know what I am doing, LOL), the jobs of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the lessons learned when animals and humans interact and maybe something about Elk themselves.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Help Has Arrived...





video

I wanted to start today's Elk rescue series off with one more set of photos of the Elk trying to escape the chains. The first five photographs are in order and were taken in a two second time period starting at 8:08:58 and ending at 8:09:00. All were recorded at the same settings, 292 mm, ISO 640, 1/500 at f4.5. As I mentioned on a previous post I found it necessary to keep the ISO up to get a fast enough shutter speed to record the action.

Around 8:20 a.m. another conservation officer arrived equipped with a gun to shoot darts and the equipment needed to handle the situation. He quickly surveyed the scene and at 8:25 fired a tranquilizer dart into the hind quarters of the bull. The photo of him standing at the tree was taken at 8:25:36 at the time the dart struck the rear quarters of the Elk (note the dart in the side that the leg is lifted). The video was taken by Shane, turn up the volume as he was recording when the officer fired the dart. The next photo shows the two conservation officers waiting for the drugs to take effect, it was shot at 8:28 with my D70. The last two photographs show the dart in the hind quarters of the bull and the drugs beginning to take effect on him. It took about 5 minutes for them to work allowing the officers to move in and help the Elk.

Tomorrow will be my last post on this incident, if you have not already looked at Shane's blog please do so as he posted two videos that are different than what I posted hereand he made another new post today. I also want to remind everyone that I am not trying to glorify the incident as no one there could have felt worse for the animal than what I did. I am thankful that the outcome was good and that we did not have to leave on a sad note.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day 3, The Elk Rescue Continues...



I hope no one is getting bored with the series of photographs and videos on the Elk rescue but as you can see I have many images I wanted to share and the story is rather long to tell it all. Besides if I have any of you hooked then you need to keep coming back each day to find out what happens next, LOL.

Today I thought I would give you a more over all view of the area, in the first photo Shane (if you missed it yesterday, Shane started his blog back up with photos and videos of the incident, he will post every Tuesday and Thursday) takes a break from shooting as Willard (in the background) records some stills of the incident. As you can see we made camp right on the hood of my truck, coffee, breakfast and the memory card case open and ready. The next two photographs are Willard and Shane recording the action. In the fourth photo taken around 7:30 the conservation officer has returned and blocked off the street with his truck, you can also see some of the other vehicles and people that came to the area to watch and photograph the events unfolding. All four were taken with the Nikon D70, I had not used this camera for over a year since I gave it to Shane to use and learn photography. On this trip I gave him my back up camera the D90 along with the 80-400 VR to use photographing wildlife. For the first time ever using it he did pretty good. All of these were shot at ISO 500 with shutter speeds ranging from 1/50 to 1/320.

In the fifth photo you can see a close up of how the chains and seats became tangled in the Elk's antlers. This photo was taken at 8:04:30, note the condition of the antlers because at this time he was trying feverishly to get free when things went south for him causing my heart to sink. The last photograph was taken at 8:05:46, you will notice that the antler on his left side has broken off. At this point I became even more worried for the well being of the bull when I realized the antler itself did not break but that is broke under the hide in the skull area. I related the fracture to a fractured skull on a person and felt at this time that the bull was destined to be put down. Thankfully that was not the end result. The last two photos were taken at ISO 640, the first at 1/250, f4, 315 mm, the last at 1/400, f4.5 at 292 mm.

Unfortunately like some blogs I can't mix my comments in between my photos, for some reason if I do not post my photos first followed by the comments the images will not get any larger when you click on them.

While photographing a herd of cows, calves and yearlings the night before Shane and I had the opportunity to meet Bob Shank and his son James from the Pocono area of Pennsylvania. They have a cabin in the area and also like to photograph wildlife. Both showed up at the incident a little later and also captured images, their sites can be found by clicking their names in this post, please stop by them and see their perspective of what took place. I also hope everyone stops back tomorrow for the fourth installment of the Elk rescue.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Elk Rescue Part 2...





video
Today's post is part 2 of the Elk rescue in Benezette, Pa. last week. If you compare yesterday's photos to today's you will notice that the bull was able to get the swing seats away from his eyes allowing him to see again, this occurred in the first 15 minutes we were there. But the downside was the chains from the swings got wrapped even more around his antlers giving him less room to move and a better chance of hurting himself. Every time he tried to escape I had the feeling that he was going to break his neck or hang himself, something I really didn't want to see but knew I could not prevent. To make matters worse more people began to show up making the bull try even harder to escape. Some people are just plain stupid, one man walked closer to the bull looking back to say if you have any bolt cutters we can get him out of here. He was right bolt cutters is what was needed but not with a conscious bull. He would have reacted even more violently causing harm to himself or gored someone with his antlers.

Sometime between 7 and 7:30 a.m. a Pa. Conservation Officer driving by was flagged down by one of the men watching the drama unfold. I was not able to hear everything said but I did get enough out of it to know that he would make additional notification and that he could do nothing to help the animal because he did not carry the drugs needed to tranquilize the bull.

The four photos posted today were all shot at the same settings, 277 mm, ISO 1000, f5 at 1/200. I should point out that my 70-200 2.8 shoots at f4 when the 1.4 tele-converter is added. The times of the photos were taken from top to bottom were 7:24, 7:26:30, 7:26:35 and 7:27:14. The video was taken by my son with the Nikon D90, please turn you volume up before playing it. We both have allot to learn about shooting the video and what we can upload onto this site. One of the biggest items we just learned in making this post is to adjust our white balance while in live view to reflect what we are seeing. It became apparent that we did not use the right WB when looking at the video and the photographs. We can't change WB in camera raw on videos. Some of his video was shot at 1280X720 (16:9), 24 fps, the ones he shot for the wed were taken at 320X216 (3:2), 24 fps. This video was taken at 7:17 a.m.

With the amount of photos and video I want to post and the length of the story I will continue it more this week to keep the post to a manageable size. My son Shane decided to get active again on his blog http://smyersphotos.blogspot.com/ , he posted photos and videos of the Elk ordeal today and plans to make post every Tuesday and Thursday. Please stop by and visit his blog, he is learning allot and taking some pretty good photos, now if he would just listen to Dad more often.

After almost two years of running this blog I have become bored with the template, I would love to make my own but since I can barely type on here let alone make something I just picked a new one from blogger. I hope you like the change of pace.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Elk Rescue In Benezette, Pa...


Thursday August 20TH started out like all the other mornings for us that week, we get up early, grab my coffee and some breakfast for in the truck load up our gear and head down the mountain from Saint Mary's to Benezette in search of Elk to photograph and watch. The weeks viewing was poor with the warm humid days and a fair amount of rain. Our hopes were high for the last morning with the storm front gone and doe and fawn whitetail we seen on the 30 minute trip to Benezette.

As we were entering the small community I always look to the left at the school building because Elk are often seen feeding in the grass. This morning I did a double take and as I headed for an area to turn around I told Shane that he would never believe what I just seen. As he said what did you see, my reply was it looked like a bull playing on the swings. It was still fairly dark and the fog was pretty heavy as we pulled back into the street leading to the school. I did not want to approach the Elk standing under the swings but I could not tell if he was tangled or just standing there. I tried a shot with the camera and zoomed in the photo to get a better view but the shutter speeds were just so slow I could not tell. As I turned to get back into the truck Shane quickly said Dad look, the Elk did have his antlers stuck in the chains of the swing.

We quickly headed for the store in town because cell phone service is non existent in the community. I went to the counter and asked the lady if she could call the game commission. Her reply was I only have a number if the Elk are injured or killed and I don't think they open until 7 a.m., it was about 6:30 then. I was a little perturbed as I was thinking the Elk may not be hurt now but he will break his neck or hang himself he he does not get help.

I got back in the truck and headed across the bridge just behind the store to see if there was any activity. What we found was a great photo opportunity in the water as a cow and calf were crossing the stream. I quickly parked off the bridge and Shane and I ran up in a hurry with the cameras. In a matter of less than a minute they were gone, but then that is my life story always a minute late. The Elk in the swings scenario was bothering me so I headed to the house Willard Hill was staying in. Willard is retired from the Pa. Game Commission and an expert on the Pa. Elk herd. As luck had it Willard had not left for the morning and I met him at the front door. After explaining the situation we headed for the school. Not being able to help the large animal ourselves we set up the cameras and awaited the arrival of someone who could.

This story and photo will take numerous post to tell, the intent of the photos are not to alarm anyone but to document what occurred that day. It is a part of nature and what can happen when wildlife and humans come together. Please check Willard's site the http://pawildlifephotographer.blogspot.com/ as I am sure he will be posting on the subject also. As I mentioned last week I will be posting my setting with some photos to show the difficulty in photography wildlife and the ever changing lighting conditions.

The first photo was the 11 shot I took that morning, it was recorded at 6:52 a.m., if you look at the grass and dirt under the bull it looks as if he had not been tangled very long. It was shot at 420 mm, ISO 1600, f4 at 1/50. The second photo was taken at 7:16 a.m. at times the bull would attempt to get out of his predicament and other times the traffic passing by or the addition of more people showing up would cause him to try violently to get free. Of course with all wildlife you also have the stupid people that try to approach closer than they should causing this reaction. It was shot at 300 mm, ISO 1000, f4 at 1/125. It became difficult to get sharp images when the bull tried to escape and his movements were to fast for the shutter speeds. The last photograph was taken at 7:20 a.m. at 330 mm, ISO 1000, f4 at 1/160. These photos were all taken with the Nikon D300 with the 70-200 2.8 VR lens with the Nikon 1.4 tele from a tripod. Unfortunately I do not know how to use batch processing and I use no noise reduction programs, maybe someday I will buy one and Shane can teach me how to use it.

As the week continues I will attempt to tell the story as it unfolded all three and a half hours of it. Shane recorded the events with my Nikon D90 taking stills and video footage, I hope to try and upload some video to the site later in the week.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Week Away...

We are back from a great father and son adventure to Northern Pennsylvania. I do not like to post when I will be away until I get back to keep the rest of my family and home safe, but Shane and I just returned Thursday afternoon from Benezette, Pa. where we went to photograph the Elk and meet up with Willard Hill of the Pa Wildlife Photographer blog. We left Monday and hooked up with Willard later that evening before heading out for a walk to one of the meadows. The weeks Elk viewing was not what any of us expected, but we still seen some Elk, whitetails and turkeys, took a few photographs and made some new friends.

This young bull was photographed right in town during one of the many rain storms, note the velvet still on his antlers. The young bulls still had velvet while the larger bulls had theirs all rubbed off. For some of my shots I am going to post the settings used to take the shots. When photographing wildlife lighting can sometimes be difficult causing the ISO to have to be increased. This shot was taken at 150 mm, ISO 500, 1/160 at f4. The weather was to warm and humid but we still made the best of it. We also ended up on an exciting adventure Thursday morning before leaving for home. I will post the whole story with many photos and if possible some video to go along with it. To tell the whole story it might take a weeks worth of post and I am sure Willard will be covering the same subject soon. If any of you have never been to his site you can find a link in the top of the links column on the left. Plan to spend some time there as his photographs are fantastic and his knowledge vast.

Can you imagine a wife that would allow her two men to go away and have fun over there 25TH wedding anniversary? I am a lucky man to have the best wife and best son a person could ask for.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Blue Punch Bug...

If any of you out there have kids around the same age as mine you know what it means when I say blue punch bug. If not find a friend that does and ask them, better yet show a 10 year old a Volkswagen bug and ask them if they know what a punch bug is, then hold your arm. Shane and I are doing some traveling this week so we should be doing this a few times before we get home. Time is short and I have to get going, that is it for today.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Long Exposures...

If you have followed my blog then you may remember me posting long exposure photographs and photos that were taken from the hip. These are two things I like to try from time to time the results can be interesting. They can get even more interesting when combining the two together. This photo was taken on the strip in Honolulu, Hawaii. I do not know any of the people in the photo. As Linda and Shane were watching some of the street performers I positioned myself against a street light, lowered the camera to waist level and began looking in different directions for anything interesting. This photograph was taken at 18mm, ISO 640, f3.5 at .3 seconds. With the one person standing still it began to take on a lensbaby effect.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Happy 25TH Anniversary Linda...


Happy 25TH anniversary Linda. Twenty-five years ago today Linda and I were married while a few of our friends watched in a small Church near Centerville. What a beginning we were both young with lousy jobs making very little money, Linda made mashed potatoes that could be put in a glass and drank with a straw. I could not even imagine 25 years later, at that age I don't think I was looking five years down the road. We made it and thanks to a smart wife we now have good jobs, most anything we want a great special son (I know his mom says so) and our looking forward to another 25 years. Linda I love you and thanks you for being the best wife there is.

Monday, August 17, 2009

More Blue Herons...

This weeks posts will be very short, I don't have much free time but I will elaborate more next week. This is another Blue Heron from Wildwood Lake, he is not the same one from last week. I hope everyone is enjoying the heat and making the most of the quickly fading summer.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Wildwwod Lake Heron...

Last week one day I finally decided to take a morning for my self and head to Wildwood Lake in Harrisburg to shoot some birds. Shane and I started the morning a little late but we still had some luck. There were numerous Blue Herons about along with some White Egrets, Canada Goose, a Green Heron and a few other birds. The feeders were filled with squirrels and no birds for some reason but we still had a good walk and finally got a few shutter releases in. More from Wildwood later. With any luck next week I will get a few Elk and Whitetail deer photos to share in the near future and get the opportunity to meet another fellow blogger that I have been following for some time.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sky Watch Over The Pacific...


It is that time of the week again, Sky Watch Friday. This one like the last few come from Hawaii. While on the ship we only really had one fantastic sunset that lit up the entire sky with red and beauty. Of course I watched it from a window while eating dinner. Please click on the photo for a much larger version. Thanks again to the sky watch team for this day each wee and don't forget to click the link to view more great sky watch photos from all over the world.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Battle At The Grove Continues...



The top photo is Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne followed by the sprint car Kasey drove and the modified driven by Kyle. Both did well in the heat races and led the first part of the features before fading late. We live in Sprint car country but Shane and I prefer the modified cars better.

Sorry for the short post but I am a little short on time these days. My days always get longer in the winter when the days get shorter but I am in no hurry for the cold weather to come.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Battle At The Grove...


Last Wednesday my family and I went to Williams Grove Speedway for some dirt track racing. The special Wednesday event was an annual event that features Kasey Kahne and another Nascar driver racing for charity. This year Kyle Busch was Kasey's guest driving a modified while Kasey drove a sprint car. We are lucky to have one of the more famous dirt tracks within five minutes of our house. Racing at the Grove is every Friday and Saturday with the World of Outlaws making frequent visits. More on the race later.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Starz Boys...


A couple more from Bike Fest last month in Carlisle. These guys were called the Starz Boys and they did some amazing things on motorcycles. I always preferred to have both wheels on the ground and at least one hand on the bars. I have to imagine they injured themselves many times perfecting their stunts.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Dolphins And Underwater Camera...


I mentioned in an earlier post about purchasing a different camera for underwater photography and I wanted to share with those of you that are on a budget like me. I could not afford or justify buying a housing for my DSLR so I went to purchase the disposable 35 mm designed for underwater at Walmart (no this is not a Walmart add). While looking at those my son spotted this camera, a Vivitar ViviCam 8400. It is an 8.1 megapixel with a 8x digital zoom and uses a SD card. I already had SD cards for my D90 and the price was $100.00, about what it would cost me to purchase five of the other cameras and have the film printed, plus if it worked we would have it for other trips or for the kids to play with in the pool or on the beach. We purchased the camera and immediately tried it in the pool before heading to vacation. We were happy with the results so it was packed for vacation. All my underwater photos were taken with it along with others that we took on the beach that I didn't want to risk using my good cameras for. I will post some of those later and I think you will be surprised with the quality of the image. I will point out that with the digital zoom if you use it the quality gets poor in a hurry, it also has a video feature that does not work bad but leaves a bit to be desired (no audio). If you are going to do some scuba diving or snorkeling and want to take photographs cheaply this is a decent camera. I did touch up the photos a little in photoshop.

The first photo was taken with the camera from a moving zodiac raft, if I remember correctly they are spinner dolphins.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Linda Tries Sky Watch Friday...


Today's sky watch Friday on my blog is a little different, the photo is not mine. It was taken by my wife Linda while laying on the beach at Waikiki and I think she did a pretty good job. I want to thank everyone that stopped by last week, I was a little surprised to be first on the list for my first time back in awhile. Thanks again to the staff of sky watch Friday and don't forget to click the link and check out more skies from all over the world.