It’s probably easy to tell that I really like moose and love photographing them.
Here is a link to a set I put together for a print series I’m working on.
These images were taken over the past four years around the Bragg Creek and Kananaskis areas in Alberta.
The deck off of our bedroom looks over the path that runs the length of Redwood Meadows towards the Elbow River. A couple of days ago, I was looking out of the windows towards the water and I saw a large bump in a clearing in the trees just across the trail. I ran out of the house with my 300mm lens to grab my tripod from my car and then walked up the rise. I thought it was a moose and I was really excited to see a young cow laying down in the snow. She seemed to be relaxing in the last sunshine of the afternoon. With the long lens, I was able to stay a good distance from the moose and she was not upset having me nearby. When their ears lay back and they keep their eyes pinned on you then you need to back away and possibly leave. I try to keep that from happening so that they stay comfortable and I can spend some time with them.
After a few images, she stopped nuzzling in the snow and got up to nibble on the twigs and branches. With her slowly walking westwards, I headed further down the path to the trail that leads down to the river. My thought being that if the moose kept moving west, she would come to this path which would allow for unobstructed photographs with the opening in the forest.
Leaving the moose behind, I lost track of her for a few minutes. I thought she might have headed through the forest north directly to the river but then I heard some rustling and soon saw her among the trees near the path. Here she was munching on foliage and watching me. I had set up in the middle of the path as I wanted her to see me and then choose whether to come closer or remain in the forest. With moose, I prefer to make sure they know where I am as they can become stressed if you disappear then suddenly appear or create noise nearby (per the shutter on a camera). She moved parallel to me and then crossed the small clearing and dined on the branches skirting the edge of the path.
Heading down the path, I thought she was going to the river but then she headed east, backtracking into the forest. At that point, I thought she was gone for the day. Evening was coming in quickly so I headed on to the river to see what the sunset might look like. The last one I shot there in December was beautiful so it is always worth checking. There wasn’t too much color to the west so I headed up one of the dried up channels of the river and was very happy to see my new friend once more. She had toured through the woods and then headed to this arm of the river to continue grazing.
I didn’t follow her this time as she trekked through the snow, heading up another path to my house. At the top of the trail, I looked for her and this is the last image I made with her heading north into a stand of trees towards the main part of the river. Possibly to cross into the undeveloped forest there or to continue her eastward trek between the Elbow and our small community.
Moose are not a rarity around Bragg Creek, but this was the first time that I have seen a moose directly in Redwood Meadows. A very special encounter with a beautiful animal.
I’m running through my 2010 image library and pulling out a few favourites from the year. In addition to wildlife, I will likely do a couple more themes. Before diving into the new year, it’s fun to have a look back over the last one.
This year I found my photographic interests often moving towards people and landscapes with wildlife taking a backseat compared to other years. That said, I still got out a fair bit and had some really great encounters with wild creatures on their terms.
I spotted this owl in West Bragg Creek as I was looking for moose. It was in the middle of stalking some small creature under the snow and continued its hunt as I watched. The advantage of longer lenses as I didn’t need to get very close to this beautiful bird so it was not disturbed. Here is my original post.
On a drive along one of Bragg Creek’s back roads on Christmas morning, I found this moose. He is one of three bulls that have been sparring over the last few weeks of December. So far, I have not been able to photograph them while they are locking antlers but friends have told me all three get right into it pretty frequently.
I photographed this bull in a boggy field in Bragg Creek in early October. He may be one of the three bulls but I haven’t been able to confirm a match with the photographs I have so far. He was mildly curious about me but never lowered the ears so I felt relatively comfortable sharing the same meadow with him. Here are some other photographs from that encounter.
This young bear walked out of the forest and around my house at about 7 am on a weekend. It ran across the road and disappeared back into the woods. I walked out to the path between my house and the river and waited figuring that the bear may nose around for a while but then decide to return to forest along the river. It did but not before tearing into a neighbour’s garbage cans that had been left at the side of the house. That’s how I spotted the bear again, I could hear the garbage cans and their contents banging around. So, it got spooked, probably by golfers on the nearby tee-off and sauntered across the road back towards the river. I was in a great spot to photograph him running across the grass and up into the forest. Here is my original post with more shots of the bear.
These whitetail deer were wary but not overly concerned as I watched them move out of the deeper forest towards the road I was standing on. Here we were watching each other and after a couple of minutes, I carried on down the road and they moved in the other direction along the fence line.
We were in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in April and one of the joys of the trip was seeing brown pelicans. They are numerous around the marina and shoreline in Cabo, considered pests by some. Where we stayed, there were a number of birds which started their day at the beach arriving at first light and soaring off well before the heat of the day settled in. I walked down to the water’s edge several mornings and enjoyed watching these giant birds start their day. I had a great time photographing the pelicans and this one was no exception. It strutted along the beach, stopping to preen, squawk with other pelicans and then glide over to another piece of beach.
Watching these birds and learning a bit about them made it very frustrating to see the damage they suffered in the Gulf of Mexico this summer.
It could be a Canadian rock band but here I am talking about a duotone process for creating black and white images of a moose I photographed yesterday.
Lately I have been experimenting with using the split toning controls to replace my black and white conversion workflow. The slightly metallic look appeals to me and I like the dimensionality that I can create using this technique. I have applied this technique to people and landscapes and wanted to try it on a wildlife subject. This moose looked great among the warm fall colors so it was fun to take that starting point and try to create a different feel to the images.
The specific process I follow starts in Adobe Lightroom’s Develop module but is applicable to Photoshop or any other editing program where you can set the colors. First I zero out the import settings so that I am starting with the unaltered RAW file and then I build the image following these are the steps to create this look.
Split Tone Color:
I like to set my highlight color to a shade between gold and silver (in LR I adjust the hue and saturation to get the tone I like). For the shadows, I set the color to some shade between blue and grey.
I apply an S curve and then tweak it to find the balance of shadow and highlight that works for me on that image.
Next, I adjust the Blacks, Fill, Clarity and Exposure to find the final look that I am looking for.
To finish I, like many, apply any noise reduction and sharpening that I feel adds to the image. I don’t use either very much but here with the fine detail in the moose’s coat, I found raising the sharpening amount and detail added to my enjoyment of the images.
Usually I have a pretty good idea of what I want the image to look like with this technique but a change to the tone colors or the mix of settings can make a surprising change to the feel of the image.
Good friends of ours told us about a small group of moose that settled in a field in West Bragg Creek a couple of days ago. This morning, I was out there early and quickly saw the young bull.
I made sure he saw me from a long ways off so that there were no surprises.
I moved slowly and watched his ears for signs of distress – if they get laid back then it is a sign that the moose is agitated. He is a young fellow maybe 4 or 5 years old judging by the immature rack. Nonetheless, still a very large animal and very impressive watching him track easily through the scrub brush and boggy grassland.
The cow was in the middle of a stand of trees to the side of the marsh where the bull was grazing.
She poked her head out to see what I was about. She quickly concluded that I wasn’t anything to be concerned with as she laid down in the grass presumably near her yearling. I didn’t see the young moose and had no interest in stressing the mother or getting into a dangerous position so I didn’t move any closer to the trees.
Great to see these young moose out. We have pretty decent numbers in the Bragg Creek area but I always worry about the impact of hunting so it is wonderful to see babies, yearlings and young bucks when they return to these parts of their range.