Archive for Cervus elaphus

Banff Elk

Posted in Photography Technique with tags , , , , , , , on November 17, 2014 by chamimage
Bull Elk

Bull Elk

I photographed this elk in Banff two years ago (yes I am still editing images from 2012). I got some great shots of him, but the backgrounds were all very busy with that evergreen forest behind him.

I have yet to find a good way to blur a background without being obvious about it, though the new path and spin blurs in Photoshop CC 2014 are pretty cool for other uses, especially motor sports. I can’t bring myself to do any compositing when it comes to wildlife images so putting him on a different background was really an option for me.

I decided to do my best with Nik Color Efex Pro (still can’t bring myself to call it Google). The darken light center filter is one I have all but forgotten about lately. I put it to work on this image and was quite pleased with the result. I did some dodging and burning of the areas closest to the elk. I then still wanted the background a little bit darker so I opened it in Adobe Camera Raw (from Photoshop, which is totally cool since I always forget to dust spot before opening files in Photoshop and this way I can go back to do it using the dust spot finder in ACR) and moved the shadows slider to the left. This is a cool trick for darkening most backgrounds, as well as use in astro photography to make the Milky Way and stars pop.

This went from being an image I was kicking myself for not throwing away on the first edit to one I am pleased with. So now I am encouraged to procrastinate all the more about throwing out images that are flawed in some way. Perhaps I will think up a way to use it or perhaps someone will come out with a magic filter that will save it.

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RIP #10

Posted in Natural History with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2013 by chamimage
Sleeping #10

Sleeping #10

“Numbers, as you know, are in some ways mischievous.”

V.V. Raman

Bull elk #10 was found dead today in Yellowstone National Park. Earning an ear tag number means you have been dealt with in some manner by the Park Service and #10 earned his tag by being a bit of a rascal.

He was found near his favorite winter hangout where he and a bunch of these big guys go on Blacktail Plateau. Wolves had been on the carcass, but he apparently had a broken leg so no one is sure if he was hit by a car first or what exactly happened.

I guess if a car hit him it might be a bit of an irony since he liked to thrash cars with his antlers during the autumn rut in downtown Mammoth, which is what earned him an ear tag. He was just taking over a tradition from old #6, who preceded him in Mammoth.

Old #6

Old #6

#6 is shown here the day after he got his antlers cut off (again) by the park service in response to the mischief he had made with cars evening prior to that. In fact I think I made both of the above images on the same day. #6 did not survive an entanglement with a fence a few years back. What must he have been feeling that day? One day you are the king of the world and the next day you are emasculated by the park service.  That’s rough. In their defense, the next year the park service worked more on people management and let him keep his antlers, but then they were criticized for their shepherding of people.

Winter Elk

Winter Elk

This is a very vulnerable time of year for these bull elk. They have lost their antlers, so are relatively defenseless except for kicking. They spend all of their time and energy courting females in the autumn so don’t go into the winter in the greatest nutritional health. Then they have to dig for dry grass beneath the snow all winter, as shown above.

The dormant grass they eat in winter is not nutritious enough to maintain their health so they are pretty nutritiously depleted by spring.  It may be spring here, but there is still snow in much of Yellowstone so they still haven’t had much nutritious food yet. When last seen alive #10 was looking pretty thin and wasted, but spring was so close around the corner there was hope he would make it.

Someone said he was seventeen years old. That means he was born in 1996. Elk are said to generally live ten to fifteen years in the wild so he was old.

Winter Elk

Winter Elk

If he was hit by a car then he has damaged his last car, but he probably suffered. I would like to believe maybe he broke a leg running from wolves. The Canyon pack was on Blacktail Plateau at the time, but he was found very close to the road so in all likelihood he was yet another casualty of the car wars. Please drive slowly in National Parks and wildlife refuges, especially from late afternoon to late morning. It’s a national park, what’s there to hurry about? Life is all about the journey, anyway. Why speed past the good stuff?

How Elk Scratch

How Elk Scratch

“La coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait point.”

“The heart has its reasons which reason doesn’t understand.”  Blaise Pascal