Sunday, November 6, 2011

Whitetail Bucks in Rut

Canon Mk IV 1D; canon 600 f4 @f6.3 1/1000 ISO250 63 yards

Joan and I traveled to Shenandoah National Park on Friday.  We arrived about noon and the top of the mountains along the Skyline Drive were socked in with fog.  We drove to one of our favorite spots and got our camera gear out and walked up into a meadow to be in the open thinking we may see more through the fog that way.  I was able to walk to within a few feet of a bedded buck and took pictures of him in the fog and in open moments between fog coverage.   After taking a number of shots of him, we wandered out into the major part of the meadow to wait for the fog to lift.  As it lifted we found ourselves surrounded by about 50 deer with three of them being bucks.  The cloudy conditions made for great filtered lighting and I was able to spend a considerable amount of time with a large 8 point buck that was working a doe. The shot posted above was one I got of him after he was finished with that doe.  he then chased off two other bucks and came running back to me and laid down in front of me. 

Canon Mk IV 1D; canon 600 f4 @f9 1/800 ISO400 35 yards
Canon Mk IV 1D; canon 600 f4 @f9 1/640 ISO400 EC-.33  25 yards

 I watched and photographed him in various light conditions and poses and thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon.  Even the Golden Light photos of him at the end of the day turned out well due to the contrast with the background. This is a buck that has been photographed by friends Willard and Coy Hill and you can read more about him and see more photos of him and other bucks I have posted in their blogs (Pa Wildlife and Country Captures). 

The next morning we were in the meadow area prior to sunrise and took position in the meadow as the sun rose.  I was able to photograph three good bucks in the morning light-one being the above 8 point from Friday.  The second one that made opportunity came running after a doe into the meadow and came close to me as he was chasing her. This is also a Golden Light photo that has good contrast to bring out the detail in the deer and be distinctive from the background. 

Canon Mk IV 1D; canon 600 f4 @f5.6 1/1250 ISO1250 63 yards

We saw a number of other bucks through the day and photographed them in various light conditions.  the sky was blue and light streaked through the trees in the woods and most of my shots were very contrasty.  I had left the flash with better beamer in the vehicle and could have used it to tame the lighting.   Crowds from the city were moving in as the day progressed and i decided to move back into the woods at the rear of the meadow for evening.  That proved to be wise as I was able to photograph six other bucks and ended the day with the biggest of all.  Prior to seeing the biggest buck I had fun watching two bucks groom each other for about a half hour. 
Canon Mk IV 1D; canon 600 f4 @f5 1/800 ISO1250 60 yards

I did not switch to a smaller lens in time and had to "portrait" the big buck for a few shots.  In this following shot he was side lit-so I got some shadow across his face. 
Canon Mk IV 1D; canon 600 f4 @f5.6 1/1600 ISO640 35 yards

Usually the Golden Light is our friend.  I like the rich yellow/golden cast of the last hour of daylight.  Often it yields very pleasing photos.  This following shot has those characteristics-but the background dead grasses are also yellow so I lost contrast to make him really stand out. I will just have to force myself to find him another day and try again!

Until next time!
Jim Borden